Trafficking of central opioid receptors and descending pain inhibition

Mol Pain. 2007 Dec 4:3:37. doi: 10.1186/1744-8069-3-37.


The delta-opioid receptor (DOR) belongs to the superfamily of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) with seven transmembrane domains, and its membrane trafficking is regulated by intracellular sorting processes involving its C-tail motifs, intracellular sorting proteins, and several intracellular signaling pathways. In the quiescent state, DOR is generally located in the intracellular compartments in central neurons. However, chronic stimulation, such as chronic pain and sustained opioid exposure, may induce membrane trafficking of DOR and its translocation to surface membrane. The emerged functional DOR on cell membrane is actively involved in pain modulation and opioid analgesia. This article reviews current understanding of the mechanisms underlying GPCRs and DOR membrane trafficking, and the analgesic function of emerged DOR through membrane trafficking under certain pathophysiological circumstances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / metabolism
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • Receptors, Opioid / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Opioid