Author(s): Faber ES, Evans RH, Henderson G, Chambers JP
The present study explored the action of nociceptin, the putative endogenous ligand for the orphan opioid receptor (ORL1), on the rat hemisected spinal cord preparation. Electrical stimulation of a dorsal root evokes a glutamatergic population ventral root potential (DR-VRP) in the corresponding ventral root. Low intensity stimulation evokes two A fibre-mediated components; a compound action potential of motoneurones superimposed on a population e.p.s.p. (excitatory postsynaptic potential); at higher stimulus intensities sufficient to activate C fibres a more prolonged population e.p.s.p. is evoked. All three components were depressed by nociceptin in a concentration-dependent manner with IC50 values (s.e.mean) of 119 +/- 2 nM (n = 4), 241 +/- 3 nM (n = 4) and 32 +/- 2 nM (n = 4), respectively. The depressant actions of nociceptin (30 nM and 300 nM) were not reversed by the opioid antagonist naloxone (1 microM). Nociceptin (100 nM and 300 nM) had no effect on the afferent volleys in the dorsal root. Nociceptin therefore appears to be acting as an inhibitory peptide at the spinal level through a naloxone-insensitive opioid receptor.