Researchers uncover how kappa opioid receptors drive anxiety


University of North Carolina School of Medicine researchers esteem uncovered a cellular mechanism by which kappa opioid receptors (KOR) drive anxiety. These proteins inhibit the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate in a character of the brain that regulates excitement . KORs have been of great participation as a drug target for the manipulation of addiction and anxiety disorders.


Thomas L. Kash, PhD, unite professor of pharmacology and the direction author of the study published in the magazine Cell Reports, used mice to usher the effects of KORs on carriage.

“When KORs are inactivated, glutamate is released in a strict sense and mice showed significant signs of sensibility less anxious,” said Kash, who is likewise a member of the Bowles Center with respect to Alcohol Studies. “But when kappa opioid receptors are activated, this glutamate acquit associated with ‘safety’ was tamped down. There were clear signs of other thing anxiety. So, in essence, KORs exclude off an anxiety-reducing pathway in the brain.”

Humans besides have kappa opioid receptors that toil in the same way.

Several pharmaceutical companies are even now working on developing KOR antagonists at the same time that a treatment for anxiety and unsalable article abuse, Kash said. The new study in Cell Reports adds to a extending body of literature showing how these drugs may moil.

Profiling neurons to define new target proteins for drug development is in the midst of the next logical steps in this calling of research. Kash also said that what may occur hereafter projects could include the study of forms of uneasiness that are more pathological, such during the time that those associated with excessive alcohol intake or opiate abuse.

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