Since the second decade of this century it has been known that opiates can influence ingestive behaviors. Generally, opioid agents enhance feeding and opioid antagonists decrease feeding. The present paper reviews the responsiveness of different animal species to opiates in relation to ingestive behaviors, the opioid receptors involved in such consummatory behaviors, the site of action of opioid modulation of feeding, the role of glucose in opioid induced feeding, and endocrine effects on opioid feeding systems. We emphasize the finding that more than one opioid receptor is involved in the modulation of feeding. A large body of evidence indicates a major role for the dynorphin/alpha-neo-endorphin kappa opioid receptor as one of the receptors involved in feeding modulation. Opioids appear to exert their effect predominantly within the central nervous system, though peripheral effects on taste and gastrointestinal function may play a role in opioid-induced feeding. Although opioid blockade acutely blocks food intake, chronic administration of opiate antagonists to humans and laboratory animals has not proven to be an effective means of decreasing body weight. Chronic opiate administration decreases body weight and autosensitization of beta-endorphin increases body weight. Thus, although it is clear that opioids can effect food intake, it is not clear what effect chronic administration of opioids has on food intake or body weight.
- Body weight