Role of delivery and trafficking of delta-opioid peptide receptors in opioid analgesia and tolerance

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2006 Jun;27(6):324-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2006 May 6.


Changes in the number of receptors on the cell surface lead to modulations of physiological functions and pharmacological responses of neurons. Recent studies show that delta-opioid peptide (DOP) and mu-opioid peptide (MOP) receptors have distinct subcellular localizations in neurons. In nociceptive small neurons in the dorsal root ganglia, DOP receptors are sorted into neuropeptide-containing secretory vesicles, enabling the stimulus-induced cell surface expression of these receptors. MOP receptors are constitutively expressed on the cell surface. The physical interaction between DOP receptors and MOP receptors seems to be an important mechanism for the modulation of receptor functions. Experiments in animals show that MOP-receptor-mediated spinal analgesia is enhanced and morphine tolerance does not develop when DOP receptor functions are pharmacologically or genetically attenuated. Thus, the delivery and trafficking of DOP receptors are crucial processes that modulate opioid analgesia and tolerance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia* / methods
  • Analgesics, Opioid / metabolism
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Drug Tolerance*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / drug effects
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / metabolism
  • Pain Threshold / drug effects
  • Protein Transport
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta / agonists
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / agonists
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / metabolism


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Morphine