FMRFamide-related peptides: Anti-opiate transmitters acting in apoptosis

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Abstract

Members of the FMRFamide-related peptide (FaRP) family are neurotransmitters, hormone-like substances and tumor suppressor peptides. In mammals, FaRPs are considered as anti-opiate peptides due to their ability to inhibit opioid signaling. Some FaRPs are asserted to attenuate opiate tolerance. A recently developed chimeric FaRP (Met-enkephalin-FMRFa) mimics the analgesic effects of opiates without the development of opiate-dependence, displaying a future therapeutical potential in pain reduction. In this review we support the notion, that opiates and representative members of the FaRP family show overlapping effects on apoptosis. Binding of FaRPs to opioid receptors or to their own receptors (G-protein linked membrane receptors and acid-sensing ion channels) evokes or suppresses cell death, in a cell- and receptor-type manner. With the dramatically increasing incidence of opiate abuse and addiction, understanding of opioid-induced cell death, and in this context FaRPs will deserve growing attention.

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