Opioid-induced preconditioning: recent advances and future perspectives
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Opioids, named by Acheson [Martin, W.R., 1967. Opioid antagonists.Pharmacol Rev. 19, 463-521] for compounds with morphine-like actions despite chemically distinct structures, have received much research interest, particularly for their central nervous system (CNS) actions involved in pain management, resulting in thousands of scientific papers focusing on their effects on the CNS and other organ systems. A more recent area which may have great clinical importance concerns the role of opioids, either endogenous or exogenous compounds, in limiting the pathogenesis of ischemia-reperfusion injury in heart and brain. The role of endogenous opioids in hibernation provides tantalizing evidence for the protective potential of opioids against ischemia or hypoxia. Mammalian hibernation, a distinct energy-conserving state, is associated with depletion of energy stores, intracellular acidosis and hypoxia, similar to those which occur during ischemia. However, despite the potentially detrimental cellular state induced with hibernation, the myocardium remains resilient for many months. What accounts for the hypoxia-tolerant state is of great interest. During hibernation, circulating levels of opioid peptides are increased dramatically, and indeed, are considered a "trigger" of hibernation. Furthermore, administration of opioid antagonists can effectively reverse hibernation in mammals. Therefore, it is not surprising that activation of opioid receptors has been demonstrated to preserve cellular status following a hypoxic insult, such as ischemia-reperfusion in many model systems including the intestine [Zhang, Y., Wu, Y.X., Hao, Y.B., Dun, Y., Yang, S.P., 2001. Role of endogenous opioid peptides in protection of ischemic preconditioning in rat small intestine. Life Sci. 68, 1013-1019], skeletal muscle [Addison, P.D., Neligan, P.C., Ashrafpour, H., Khan, A., Zhong, A., Moses, M., Forrest, C.R., Pang, C.Y., 2003. Noninvasive remote ischemic preconditioning for global protection of skeletal muscle against infarction. Am. J. Physiol. Heart Circ. Physiol. 285, H1435-H1443], the CNS [Borlongan, C.V., Wang, Y., Su, T.P., 2005. Delta opioid peptide (d-ala 2, d-leu 5) enkephalin: linking hibernation and neuroprotection. Front Biosci. 9, 3392-3398] and the myocardium Romano et al., 2004 and Peart and Gross, 2004a. For the purpose of this review, we will focus primarily on the protective effects of opioids against post-reperfusion myocardial stunning and infarction.