Pasternak, Gavril W. Department of Neurology, Memorial Hospital, Sloan-Kettering Institute Cancer Center, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:March 2021
- Structure and processing
- Regional distributions and actions
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A family of endogenous peptides with morphinelike action present within the central nervous system. The enkephalins were the first group of endorphins to be identified. They were discovered in 1975 and opened research into a wide number of centrally active neuropeptides. The term endorphin is generic, referring to all opioid peptides, whereas specific peptides are given individual names, such as the enkephalins, dynorphins, and β-endorphin. Their isolation, shortly after the identification of the opioid receptors, brought together the concept of endogenous opioid peptide systems within the central nervous system that can modulate pain perception and through which opioids act (see illustration). See also: Nervous system (vertebrate); Opiate; Opioid; Pain; Peptide
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