Neuropeptide FF, pain and analgesia

Eur J Pharmacol. 1998 Mar 12;345(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/s0014-2999(97)01604-x.


Neuropeptide FF (Phe-Leu-Phe-Gln-Pro-Gln-Arg-Phe-NH2) and the octadecapeptide neuropeptide AF (Ala-Gly-Glu-Gly-Leu-Ser-Ser-Pro-Phe-Trp-Ser-Leu-Ala-Ala-Pro-Gln-Arg-Phe -NH2) were isolated from bovine brain, and were initially characterized as anti-opioid peptides. They can oppose the acute effects of opioids and an increase in their brain concentrations may be responsible for the development of tolerance and dependence to opioids. Numerous experiments suggest a possible neuromodulatory role for neuropeptide FF. A precursor protein has been identified, in particular in human brain. Neuropeptide FF immunoreactive neurons are present only in the medial hypothalamus, and the nucleus of the solitary tract, and in the spinal cord in the superficial layers of the dorsal horn and areas around the central canal. Depolarization induces a Ca2+-dependent release of neuropeptide FF immunoreactivity from the spinal cord. Neuropeptide FF acts through stimulation of its own receptors and high densities of specific binding sites are found in regions related either to sensory input and visceral functions or to the processing of nociceptive messages. In both isolated dorsal root ganglion neurons and CA1 pyramidal neurons of the hippocampus, neuropeptide FF has little effect of its own but reverses the effects of mu-opioid receptor agonists. In agreement with the hypothesized anti-opioid role of neuropeptide FF, supraspinal injection lowers the nociceptive threshold and reverses morphine-induced analgesia in rats. Furthermore, immunoneutralization of neuropeptide FF increases endogenous and exogenous opioid-induced analgesia. Similarly, microinfusion of neuropeptide FF or neuropeptide FF analogs into the nucleus raphe dorsalis, the parafascicular nucleus, or the ventral tegmental area has no effect on the nociceptive threshold but inhibits the analgesia induced by co-injected morphine. Furthermore, infusion of neuropeptide FF into the parafascicular nucleus or the nucleus raphe dorsalis reverses the analgesic effect of morphine infused into the nucleus raphe dorsalis or the parafascicular nucleus, respectively, demonstrating remote interactions between neuropeptide FF and opioid systems. By contrast, intrathecal administration of neuropeptide FF analogs induces a long lasting, opioid-dependent analgesia and potentiates the analgesic effect of morphine. Analgesic effects of neuropeptide FF after supraspinal injection could also be observed, for example during nighttime. In young mice, (1DMe)Y8Famide (D.Tyr-Leu-(NMe)Phe-Gln-Pro-Gln-Arg-Phe-NH2), a neuropeptide FF analog, increases delta-opioid receptor-mediated analgesia. These findings indicate that neuropeptide FF constitutes a neuromodulatory neuronal system interacting with opioid systems, and should be taken into account as a participant of the homeostatic process controlling the transmission of nociceptive information.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Analgesia*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neuropeptides / physiology*
  • Oligopeptides / physiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Rats


  • Neuropeptides
  • Oligopeptides
  • phenylalanyl-leucyl-phenylalanyl-glutaminyl-prolyl-glutaminyl-arginyl-phenylalaninamide