Which Opioid Receptor Mechanism Modulates Feeding?

John E. Morley, Allen S Levine, Blake A. Gosnell, Charles J Billington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


There is substantial evidence for the role of endogenous opioid peptides in the regulation of appetite. This communication examines the possible opioid peptide mechanism(s) which are involved in appetite regulation. In the rat, activation of both the dynorphin-kappa opioid receptor and the beta-endorphin-epsilon opioid receptor appear to enhance feeding, most probably acting in different areas of the central nervous system. It also appears that rats may have a mu anorectic system. Too few studies have been undertaken to define whether the delta or sigma receptor systems are also involved in feeding responses. It is becoming apparent that a great deal of species diversity exists in the feeding responses to opiates, making it difficult to extrapolate the results obtained in rats to other species. In humans, studies with naloxone suggest an opioid sensitive feeding system which possibly is specifically involved in the regulation of carbohydrate uptake. In addition, we report here preliminary data suggesting the presence of a mu anorectic system in humans. Thus, analogous to the findings for the role of opioid receptors in analgesia, it appears that multiple opioid receptors may be involved in appetite regulation, each receptor relating to a different aspect of feeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1984


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