alexa Site and mechanism of morphine tolerance in the gastrointestinal tract


Advanced Practices in Nursing

Author(s): Akbarali HI, Inkisar A, Dewey WL

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Opioid-induced constipation is a major clinical problem. The effects of morphine, and other narcotics, on the gastrointestinal tract persist over long-term use thus limiting the clinical benefit of these excellent pain relievers. The effects of opioids in the gut, including morphine, are largely mediated by the μ-opioid receptors at the soma and nerve terminals of enteric neurons. Recent studies demonstrate that regional differences exist in both acute and chronic morphine along the gastrointestinal tract. While tolerance develops to the analgesic effects and upper gastrointestinal motility upon repeated morphine administration, tolerance does not develop in the colon with chronic opioids resulting in persistent constipation. Here, we review the mechanisms by which tolerance develops in the small but not the large intestine. The regional differences lie in the signaling and regulation of the μ-opioid receptor in the various segments of the gastrointestinal tract. The differential role of β-arrestin2 in tolerance development between central and enteric neurons defines the potential for therapeutic approaches in developing ligands with analgesic properties and minimal constipating effects.

This article was published in Neurogastroenterology and Motility and referenced in Advanced Practices in Nursing

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