Modulation of morphine antinociception by peripheral [Leu5]enkephalin: a synergistic interaction

Eur J Pharmacol. 1990 Apr 25;179(3):463-8. doi: 10.1016/0014-2999(90)90190-h.


This study determined whether the modulation of morphine antinociception by [Leu5]enkephalin, a compound which does not produce detectable antinociception when given i.p., was additive or synergistic. Co-administration of graded i.p. doses of morphine and [Leu5]enkephalin 20 min before testing resulted in a progressive leftward and parallel displacement of the i.p. morphine dose-response line. The increase in potency produced by i.p. [Leu5]enkephalin, but not the antinociception of i.p. morphine alone, was blocked by i.c.v. ICI 174,864. The data demonstrate strong and dose-related synergism between the two compounds, supporting the view that (a) peripheral administration of [Leu5]enkephalin can modulate morphine antinociception, apparently at the level of the brain and (b) that the interaction between mu and delta opioid agonists is not the result of simple additive action at the same (i.e., mu) receptor. Further evidence is thus provided for the existence of functional mu-delta interactions.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics*
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Synergism
  • Enkephalin, Leucine / analogs & derivatives
  • Enkephalin, Leucine / pharmacology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / pharmacology


  • Analgesics
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Enkephalin, Leucine
  • Morphine
  • N,N-diallyl-tyrosyl-alpha-aminoisobutyric acid-phenylalanyl-leucine