Opioids pp 711-727 | Cite as

Ontogeny of Mammalian Opioid Systems

  • J. E. Pintar
  • R. E. M. Scott
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 104 / 1)


At least two of the three distinct genes encoding peptides with opioid activity are expressed during prenatal development not only in the CNS and endocrine cells, but also in specific peripheral tissues. Although it is not yet known whether any of the opioid peptides derived from these opioid precursors are required for normal development, any prospective action requires not only gene activation, but also appropriate maturation of numerous cellular functions including biosynthesis, posttranslational processing, and regulation of synthesis and secretion. In addition, the cognate receptor(s) for presumptive bioactive peptides must be present and active. In this review, we will synthesize the information available on prenatal expression of all three opioid systems, proopiomelanocortin (POMC), proenkephalin (PENK), and prodynorphin (PDYN), but will focus on differentiation of POMC cells in the rodent pituitary where the most complete information is available. Relevant studies and reviews beyond the scope of this review will be cited as appropriate, and the authors apologize in advance for being unable to cite or discuss in detail all relevant work because of space limitations.


Opioid Receptor Opioid Peptide Postnatal Development Intermediate Lobe POMC mRNA 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. E. Pintar
  • R. E. M. Scott

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