Pharmacology of amphibian opiate peptides

Peptides. 2000 Nov;21(11):1639-47. doi: 10.1016/s0196-9781(00)00295-3.


In 1980 the skin of certain frogs belonging to the genus Phyllomedusinae was found to contain two new peptides that proved to be selective mu-opioid agonists, and named dermorphins. Since 1987 deltorphins, a family of highly selective delta-opioid peptides were identified either by cloning of the cDNA from frog skins or isolation of the peptides. The distinctive feature of opioid peptides is the presence of a naturally occurring D-enantiomer at the second position in their common N-terminal sequence, Tyr-D-Xaa-Phe. The discovery of the amphibian opiate peptides, provided new insights into the functional role of the mu- and delta-opiate systems. It also provided models for novel analgesics with enhanced therapeutic benefits and reduced toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bufonidae
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Oligopeptides / chemistry
  • Oligopeptides / pharmacokinetics
  • Opioid Peptides
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta / agonists
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta / chemistry
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / agonists
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / chemistry
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Oligopeptides
  • Opioid Peptides
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • deltorphin
  • dermorphin