Cloning of opioid receptors in common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) and their involvement in regulation of stress and immune response

M.K. Chadzinska, G.J. Hermsen, H.F.J. Savelkoul, B.M.L. Verburg-van Kemenade

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30 Citations (Scopus)


In mammals opiate alkaloids and endogenous opioid peptides exert their physiological and pharmacological actions through opioid receptors (MOR, DOR and KOR) expressed not only on neuroendocrine cells but also on leukocytes. Therefore, opioids can modulate the immune response. We cloned and sequenced all three classical opioid receptors (MOR, DOR and KOR) in common carp, and studied changes in their expression during stress and immune responses. Messenger RNA of opioid receptors was constitutively expressed in brain areas, specially in the preoptic nucleus NPO (homologous to mammalian hypothalamus). After exposure to prolonged restraint stress, mRNA levels of MOR and DOR decreased in the NPO and in the head kidney. Increased expression of all studied opioid receptors was observed in the pituitary pars distalis (containing ACTH-producing cells). In immune organs, constitutive but lower expression of opioid receptor genes was observed. During in vivo zymosan-induced peritonitis or after in vitro LPS-induced stimulation, when pro-inflammatory functions are activated, expression of the OR genes in leukocytes was concomitantly up-regulated. Additionally, specific agonists of opioid receptors especially reduced leukocyte migratory properties, manifested by reduced chemotaxis and down-regulated expression of chemokine receptors. Our data indicate an evolutionary conserved role for the opioid system in maintaining a dynamic equilibrium while coping with stress and/or infection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-266
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • zebrafish danio-rerio
  • plasma alpha-msh
  • beta-endorphin
  • sequence alignment
  • met-enkephalin
  • in-vitro
  • morphine
  • expression
  • inflammation
  • modulation

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