Pharmacological characterization of endomorphin-1 and endomorphin-2 in mouse brain

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1998 Aug;286(2):1007-13.


The recently isolated peptides endomorphin-1 and endomorphin-2 have been suggested to be the endogenous ligands for the mu receptor. In traditional opioid receptor binding assays in mouse brain homogenates, both endomorphin-1 and endomorphin-2 competed both mu1 and mu2 receptor sites quite potently. Neither compound had appreciable affinity for either delta or kappa1 receptors, confirming an earlier report. However, the two endomorphins displayed reasonable affinities for kappa3 binding sites, with Ki values between 20 and 30 nM. Both endomorphins competed 3H-[D-Ala2, MePhe4,Gly(ol)5] enkephalin binding to MOR-1 receptors expressed in CHO cells with high affinity. In mouse brain homogenates 125I-endomorphin-1 and 125I-endomorphin-2 binding was selectively competed by mu ligands. 125I-Endomorphin-1 and 125I-endomorphin-2 also labeled MOR-1 receptors expressed in CHO cells with high affinity. Autoradiography of the two 125I-labeled endomorphins demonstrated regional patterns in the brain similar to those previously observed for mu drugs. Pharmacologically, the endomorphins were potent analgesics. Although they were equipotent supraspinally, endomorphin-1 was more potent spinally. Endomorphin analgesia was effectively blocked by naloxone, as well as the mu-selective antagonists beta-funaltrexamine and naloxonazine. In CXBK mice, which are insensitive to supraspinal morphine, neither endomorphin was active, consistent with a mu mechanism of action. Finally, the endomorphins inhibited gastrointestinal transit. In conclusion, these results support the mu selectivity of these agents.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacokinetics
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • CHO Cells
  • Cricetinae
  • Gastrointestinal Transit
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Male
  • Membranes / drug effects
  • Membranes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Oligopeptides / pharmacokinetics
  • Oligopeptides / pharmacology*
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / agonists
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / drug effects


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Oligopeptides
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • endomorphin 1
  • endomorphin 2