Endomorphin-2 is an endogenous opioid in primary sensory afferent fibers

Peptides. 1998;19(10):1783-9. doi: 10.1016/s0196-9781(98)00136-3.


Evidence is presented that the recently discovered endogenous mu-selective agonist, endomorphin-2, is localized in primary sensory afferents. Endomorphin-2-like immunoreactivity was found to be colocalized in a subset of substance P- and mu opiate receptor-containing fibers in the superficial laminae of the spinal cord and spinal trigeminal nucleus. Disruption of primary sensory afferents by mechanical (deafferentation by dorsal rhizotomy) or chemical (exposure to the primary afferent neurotoxin, capsaicin) methods virtually abolished endomorphin-2-like immunoreactivity in the dorsal horn. These results indicate that endomorphin-2 is present in primary afferent fibers where it can serve as the endogenous ligand for pre- and postsynaptic mu receptors and as a major modulator of pain perception.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / analysis
  • Analgesics, Opioid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Nerve Fibers / chemistry
  • Nerve Fibers / drug effects
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / chemistry
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / analysis
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology
  • Oligopeptides / analysis
  • Oligopeptides / metabolism
  • Oligopeptides / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / agonists
  • Substance P / analysis
  • Substance P / metabolism


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Oligopeptides
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Substance P
  • endomorphin 2