Distribution of dynorphin and enkephalin peptides in the rat brain

J Comp Neurol. 1986 Jul 15;249(3):293-336. doi: 10.1002/cne.902490302.


The neuroanatomical distribution of dynorphin B-like immunoreactivity (DYN-B) was studied in the adult male and female albino rat. The distribution of DYN B in colchicine- and noncolchicine-treated animals was also compared to that of another opioid peptide derived from the prodynorphin precursor dynorphin A (1-8) (DYN 1-8), and an opioid peptide derived from the proenkephalin precursor met-enkephalin-arg-gly-leu (MERGL). DYN B cell bodies were present in nonpyramidal cells of neo- and allocortices, medium-sized cells of the caudate-putamen, nucleus accumbens, lateral part of the central nucleus of the amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, preoptic area, and in sectors of nearly every hypothalamic nucleus and area, medial pretectal area, and nucleus of the optic tract, periaqueductal gray, raphe nuclei, cuneiform nucleus, sagulum, retrorubral nucleus, peripeduncular nucleus, lateral terminal nucleus, pedunculopontine nucleus, mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus, parabigeminal nucleus, dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus, lateral superior olivary nucleus, superior paraolivary nucleus, medial superior olivary nucleus, ventral nucleus of the trapezoid body, lateral dorsal tegmental nucleus, accessory trigeminal nucleus, solitary nucleus, nucleus ambiguus, paratrigeminal nucleus, area postrema, lateral reticular nucleus, and ventrolateral region of the reticular formation. Fiber systems are present that conform to many of the known output systems of these nuclei, including major descending pathways (e.g., striatonigral, striatopallidal, reticulospinal, hypothalamospinal pathways), short projection systems (e.g., mossy fibers in hippocampus, hypothalamo-hypophyseal pathways), and local circuit pathways (e.g., in cortex, hypothalamus). The distribution of MERGL was, with a few notable exceptions, in the same nuclei as DYN B. From these neuroanatomical data, it appears that the dynorphin and enkephalin peptides are strategically located in brain regions that regulate extrapyramidal motor function, cardiovascular and water balance systems, eating, sensory processing, and pain perception.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Diencephalon / metabolism
  • Dynorphins / analogs & derivatives
  • Dynorphins / metabolism*
  • Endorphins / metabolism
  • Enkephalin, Methionine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Enkephalin, Methionine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / metabolism
  • Mesencephalon / metabolism
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Pons / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Telencephalon / metabolism


  • Endorphins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Enkephalin, Methionine
  • Dynorphins
  • dynorphin (1-8)
  • enkephalin-Met, Arg(6)-Gly(7)-Leu(8)-
  • rimorphin