Pathobiology of dynorphins in trauma and disease

Kurt F. Hauser, Jane V. Aldrich, Kevin J. Anderson, Georgy Bakalkin, MacDonald J. Christie, Edward D. Hall, Pamela E. Knapp, Stephen W. Scheff, Indrapal N. Singh, Bryce Vissel, Amina S. Woods, Tatiana Yakovleva, Toni S. Shippenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Dynorphins, endogenous opioid neuropeptides derived from the prodynorphin gene, are involved in a variety of normative physiologic functions including antinociception and neuroendocrine signaling, and may be protective to neurons and oligodendroglia via their opioid receptor-mediated effects. However, under experimental or pathophysiological conditions in which dynorphin levels are substantially elevated, these peptides are excitotoxic largely through actions at glutamate receptors. Because the excitotoxic actions of dynorphins require supraphysiological concentrations or prolonged tissue exposure, there has likely been little evolutionary pressure to ameliorate the maladaptive, non-opioid receptor mediated consequences of dynorphins. Thus, dynorphins can have protective and/or proapoptotic actions in neurons and glia, and the net effect may depend upon the distribution of receptors in a particular region and the amount of dynorphin released. Increased prodynorphin gene expression is observed in several disease states and disruptions in dynorphin processing can accompany pathophysiological situations. Aberrant processing may contribute to the net negative effects of dysregulated dynorphin production by tilting the balance towards dynorphin derivatives that are toxic to neurons and/or oligodendroglia. Evidence outlined in this review suggests that a variety of CNS pathologies alter dynorphin biogenesis. Such alterations are likely maladaptive and contribute to secondary injury and the pathogenesis of disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-235
Number of pages20
JournalFrontiers in Bioscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005


  • AMPA
  • Apoptosis
  • Drug abuse
  • Excitotoxicity
  • Glutamate
  • N-methyl-D-aspartate
  • Neuropeptides
  • Neuropeptides processing
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Neurotrauma
  • Opioids
  • Pain
  • Review
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Striatum
  • κ-opioid receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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