Endogenous opioids and feeding behavior: a 30-year historical perspective

Peptides. 2004 Apr;25(4):697-725. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2004.01.006.


This invited review, based on the receipt of the Third Gayle A. Olson and Richard D. Olson Prize for the publication of the outstanding behavioral article published in the journal Peptides in 2002, examines the 30-year historical perspective of the role of the endogenous opioid system in feeding behavior. The review focuses on the advances that this field has made over the past 30 years as a result of the timely discoveries that were made concerning this important neuropeptide system, and how these discoveries were quickly applied to the analysis of feeding behavior and attendant homeostatic processes. The discoveries of the opioid receptors and opioid peptides, and the establishment of their relevance to feeding behavior were pivotal in studies performed in the 1970s. The 1980s were characterized by the establishment of opioid receptor subtype agonists and antagonists and their relevance to the modulation of feeding behavior as well as by the use of general opioid antagonists in demonstrating the wide array of ingestive situations and paradigms involving the endogenous opioid system. The more recent work from the 1990s to the present, utilizes the advantages created by the cloning of the opioid receptor genes, the development of knockout and knockdown techniques, the systematic utilization of a systems neuroscience approach, and establishment of the reciprocity of how manipulations of opioid peptides and receptors affect feeding behavior with how feeding states affect levels of opioid peptides and receptors. The role of G-protein effector systems in opioid-mediated feeding responses, which was the subject of the prize-winning article, is then reviewed.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite Regulation / genetics
  • Appetite Regulation / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Opioid Peptides / history*
  • Opioid Peptides / physiology*
  • Receptors, Opioid / genetics
  • Receptors, Opioid / history
  • Receptors, Opioid / physiology*


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Opioid Peptides
  • Receptors, Opioid