Endorphinergic Attenuation of Distress by Concomitantly Enhancing Endogenous Opioid Release and Switching Opioid Receptor Signaling from an Excessively Excitatory to a Normal Inhibitory Mode


The endogenous opioid system plays a significant role in the modulation of distress in many psychiatric, neurologic, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Many clinical distress symptoms show similarities to the excitatory autonomic withdrawal effects in chronic opioid-dependent animals and humans, as well as to the “quasi-morphine withdrawal syndrome” evoked in naive rodents shortly after acute systemic injection of cyclic AMP-phosphodiesterase (cAMP-PDE) inhibitors. These symptoms result from excessive excitatory opioid receptor signaling and increased endorphin release. Pharmacologic analyses of the remarkably plastic bimodal (excitatory/inhibitory) signaling functions of opioid receptors have utilized microelectrode recordings from opioid-sensitive neurons in tissue cultures of mouse sensory ganglia and hot-water tail-flick assays in mice. These studies led to development of specific chemical formulations that switch opioid receptor signaling from an excessively excitatory to a normal inhibitory mode. Critical combinations of cAMP-PDE inhibitors that release endorphins plus specific agents that switch opioid receptors from excitatory Gs-coupled to inhibitory Gi/Go-coupled signaling were shown to attenuate hyperalgesia and distress evoked by diverse chemical stressors in mouse tail-flick assays. Both the “quasi-morphine withdrawal syndrome” in naive rodents as well as the excitatory withdrawal effects in chronic, opioid-dependent animals and humans may be manifestations of a common Endorphinergic Distress Syndrome (EDS). We suggest that many distress symptoms are caused by EDS, a dysfunctional imbalance in the endogenous opioid system, consisting of abnormal endorphin levels, together with opioid receptors predominately in their excitatory mode. Therefore, concomitantly enhancing endogenous opioid release and switching excessive excitatory opioid receptor signaling to inhibitory signaling can attenuate these distress symptoms. Trials of a critically formulated oral preparation, containing both endorphin enhancers and opioid receptor switchers, have resulted in long-term anxiolytic efficacy and enhanced calm and mental clarity in large numbers of individuals with distress symptoms. These endorphinergic formulations may provide treatment for the emotional and physical distress associated with many psychiatric, neurologic, and neurodevelopmental disorders.


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S. Crain and S. Crain, "Endorphinergic Attenuation of Distress by Concomitantly Enhancing Endogenous Opioid Release and Switching Opioid Receptor Signaling from an Excessively Excitatory to a Normal Inhibitory Mode," Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, Vol. 3 No. 7, 2013, pp. 497-508. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2013.37052.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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