Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 491–499

Recent Development in Studies of Tetrahydroprotoberberines: Mechanism in Antinociception and Drug Addiction

  • Hongyuan Chu
  • Guozhang Jin
  • Eitan Friedman
  • Xuechu Zhen
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10571-007-9179-4

Cite this article as:
Chu, H., Jin, G., Friedman, E. et al. Cell Mol Neurobiol (2008) 28: 491. doi:10.1007/s10571-007-9179-4


The tetrahydroprotoberberines (THPBs) are compounds isolated from Chinese herbs that possess a unique pharmacological profile as D2 dopamine receptor antagonists and D1 receptor agonists. l-Tetrahydropalmatine (l-THP) and l-stepholidine (SPD), members of the THPB family, were shown to have potential clinical use in the treatment of pain. However, their mechanism of action is not clear. In the past decades, Chinese scientists have made a great deal of effort to explore the mechanisms by which the THPBs and its analogues elicit antinociception and their potential utility in treating drug abuse. It is now clear that the antinociception produced by l-THP is related to inhibition of D2 dopamine receptors. The present review focuses on the recent progress made in understanding the mechanisms of l-THP- and l-SPD-mediated antinociception and the sequel of drug addiction.


Tetrahydroprotoberberinesl-Tetrahydropalmatinel-StepholidineDopamine receptorAntinociceptionDrug addiction





Nucleus accumbens


Somatosensory cortex




Periaqueductal gray


Dorsal horn

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hongyuan Chu
    • 1
  • Guozhang Jin
    • 1
  • Eitan Friedman
    • 2
  • Xuechu Zhen
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia MedicaChinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Physiology & PharmacologyCity University of New York Medical SchoolNew YorkUSA