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Nihon Yakurigaku Zasshi



[Therapeutic potentials of safe opioid analgesics targeting nociceptin/orphanin FQ peptide receptor].


Kiguchi N, Kishioka S, Ko M-C
Nihon Yakurigaku Zasshi. 2021; 156(3):139-144.
PMID: 33952840.


After the identification of nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) peptide (NOP) and its cognate receptor, the unique functional profiles of the N/OFQ-NOP receptor system have been uncovered. NOP receptors are distributed in the key regions that regulate pain and reward processing in the central nervous system. In non-human primates (NHPs), activation of the NOP receptor causes antinociception and anti-hypersensitivity via spinal and supraspinal effects. Moreover, activation of the NOP receptor attenuates dopaminergic transmission and potentiates mu-opioid peptide (MOP) receptor-mediated analgesia. Here, we highlight the functional profiles of bifunctional NOP and MOP receptor agonists based on their promising effects for the treatment of pain and drug abuse. Bifunctional NOP/MOP receptor "partial" agonists, such as AT-121, BU08028, and BU10038, exert potent analgesic effects without MOP receptor-related side effects such as abuse liability, respiratory depression, physical dependence, and itching in NHPs. These novel NOP/MOP receptor agonists reduce rewarding and the reinforcing effects of abused drugs. Furthermore, a mixed NOP/opioid receptor "full" agonist, cebranopadol, is undergoing several clinical trials, and the therapeutic advantage of the coactivation of NOP and MOP receptors has also been confirmed in humans. Therefore, this class of drugs that coactivate NOP and MOP receptors proposes a wide therapeutic range with fewer side effects, indicating a greater potential for the development of novel safer opioid analgesics.