Spinal administration of selective opioid antagonists in amphibians: Evidence for an opioid unireceptor

Craig W. Stevens, Leslie C. Newman

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In mammals, opioids act by interactions with three distinct types of receptors: μ, δ, or κ opioid receptors. Using a novel assay of antinociception in the Northern grass frog, Rana pipiens, previous work demonstrated that selective μ, δ, or κ opioids produced a potent antinociception when administered by the spinal route. The relative potency of this effect was highly correlated to that found in mammals. Present studies employing selective opioid antagonists, β-FNA, NTI, or nor-BNI demonstrated that, in general, these antagonists were not selective in the amphibian model. These data have implications for the functional evolution of opioid receptors in vertebrates and suggest that the tested μ, δ, and κ opioids mediate antinociception via a single type of opioid receptor in amphibians, termed the unireceptor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)PL125-PL130
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - 29 Jan 1999



  • Amphibian
  • Morphine
  • Opioid antinociception
  • Opioid receptor
  • Unireceptor

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