Recent Development in Studies of Tetrahydroprotoberberines: Mechanism in Antinociception and Drug Addiction

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Abstract

The tetrahydroprotoberberines (THPBs) are compounds isolated from Chinese herbs that possess a unique pharmacological profile as D2 dopamine receptor antagonists and D1 receptor agonists. l-Tetrahydropalmatine (l-THP) and l-stepholidine (SPD), members of the THPB family, were shown to have potential clinical use in the treatment of pain. However, their mechanism of action is not clear. In the past decades, Chinese scientists have made a great deal of effort to explore the mechanisms by which the THPBs and its analogues elicit antinociception and their potential utility in treating drug abuse. It is now clear that the antinociception produced by l-THP is related to inhibition of D2 dopamine receptors. The present review focuses on the recent progress made in understanding the mechanisms of l-THP- and l-SPD-mediated antinociception and the sequel of drug addiction.

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