Involvement of delta-opioid receptors in the effects induced by endogenous enkephalins on learned helplessness model
Tejedor-Real P, Mico JA, Smadja C,
Maldonado R, Roques BP, Gilbert-Rahola J
Department of Neurosciences,
School of Medicine,
University of Cadiz, Spain.
Eur J Pharmacol 1998 Jul 31; 354(1):1-7


Pharmacological, neurochemical and behavioural findings support a possible role of endogenous opioids in clinical depression. There is evidence from animal studies that delta-opioid receptors are involved in several behavioural responses to opioids, including motivational activities. In the present study, the mixed enkephalin catabolism inhibitor, RB 101 (N(R,S)-2-benzyl-3[(S)-(2-amino-4-methylthiobutyldithio]-1-oxoprop yl)-L-phenylalanine benzyl ester) (1.25, 2.5 and 5 mg/kg), induced a dose-dependent antidepressant-like effect in a learned helplessness model. Thus, RB 101 reversed escape deficits in rats previously subjected to inescapable shocks, suggesting the involvement of endogenous enkephalins in depression. Similar effects were observed after administration of the selective delta-opioid receptor agonist, BUBU (Tyr-D.Ser-(O-tert-butyl)-Gly-Phe-Leu-Thr(O-Tet-butyl-OH) (1 and 2 mg/kg). Moreover, RB 101 effects were antagonized by administration of naltrindole (NTI) (0.1 mg/kg), which points to a preferential involvement of delta-opioid receptors in this enkephalin-controlled behaviour. As RB 101 has been reported to be almost devoid of opiate-related side-effects, it could represent a promising alternative in the treatment of depressive patients who are unresponsive to, or intolerant of, classical antidepressants.
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