Receptor affinity and pharmacological potency of a series of narcotic analgesic, anti-diarrheal and neuroleptic drugs

Eur J Pharmacol. 1977 Dec 1;46(3):199-205. doi: 10.1016/0014-2999(77)90334-x.


A series of 26 drugs was tested for in vitro binding to opiate receptors in the presence and absence of 0.1 M NaCl. The results were correlated with assays for in vivo pharmacological potency. Highly significant correlation was found between binding in the presence and absence of sodium ions and analgesic potency. For 10 drugs tested for anti-diarrheal potency significant correlation was observed with binding to brain opiate receptors when binding was carried out in sodium-containing medium. These data add support to the hypothesis that stereospecific opiate binding sites are pharmacological receptors which mediate analgesia and anti-diarrheal action. We found that neuroleptics can bind to opiate receptors with affinities in the micromolar range, in agreement with reports by others. The anti-diarrheal compound loperamide exhibits no significant central opiate effects but binds to opiate receptors from brain in vitro with high affinity. Evidency is presented suggesting that the lack of specific analgesic effect is the result of poor penetration through the blood--brain barrier. Our results lend further support to the similarity of opiate receptors in the brain and in the intestinal tract.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / metabolism
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antidiarrheals / metabolism
  • Antidiarrheals / pharmacology*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / metabolism
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Female
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Opioid / metabolism*
  • Stereoisomerism


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Antidiarrheals
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Receptors, Opioid