Antisera were developed that specifically recognize orphanin FQ/nociceptin, the 17 amino acid peptide reported to be the endogenous ligand for the orphan opioid receptor. Immunocytochemical localizations in rat spinal cord demonstrated that orphanin FQ/nociceptin-immunoreactivity (-ir) was abundant in superficial dorsal horn, lateral spinal nucleus and the region dorsal to the central canal, areas that also exhibit prominent enkephalin- and dynorphin-ir. Orphanin FQ/nociceptin-ir was not affected by dorsal rhizotomy, indicating that in spinal cord the peptide is produced by central rather than primary afferent neurons. Thus, the distribution of orphanin FQ/nociceptin-ir appeared in neuronal circuits that parallel those containing enkephalin- and dynorphin-ir, with only modest co-existence of these peptides.
- Orphan opioid receptor
- Spinal cord