The control of ACTH secretion by opiates seems to involve stimulatory and inhibitory pathways, since opiate agonists and antagonists are capable of releasing ACTH in conscious rats. To elucidate the role of different opiate receptors in the control of ACTH release, rats were treated with receptor-selective opiate agonists and antagonists. The mu-opiate agonists, morphine and (D-Ala2, MePhe4, Gly5-ol)enkephalin, and the benzomorphan kappa-opiate agonists, MR 2034 and MRZ 2549, both stimulated ACTH release after central or peripheral injection. The effects of morphine, but not those of MR 2034, were blocked by a low dose of naloxone (50 ug/kg) and by the mu-receptor antagonist, beta-funaltrexamine. A 20 times higher dose of naloxone also blocked the effects of the kappa-agonist. Our data suggest that both mu- and kappa-opiate receptors are involved in the stimulation of ACTH release in rats.
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