Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 6, pp 857–896 | Cite as

The dynorphin/κ-opioid receptor system and its role in psychiatric disorders

  • H. A. Tejeda
  • T. S. ShippenbergEmail author
  • R. Henriksson


The dynorphin/κ-opioid receptor system has been implicated in the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of several psychiatric disorders. In the present review, we present evidence indicating a key role for this system in modulating neurotransmission in brain circuits that subserve mood, motivation, and cognitive function. We overview the pharmacology, signaling, post-translational, post-transcriptional, transcriptional, epigenetic and cis regulation of the dynorphin/κ-opioid receptor system, and critically review functional neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and pharmacological evidence, suggesting that alterations in this system may contribute to affective disorders, drug addiction, and schizophrenia. We also overview the dynorphin/κ-opioid receptor system in the genetics of psychiatric disorders and discuss implications of the reviewed material for therapeutics development.


Dynorphin κ-Opioid receptor Psychiatric disorder Pharmacology Neuroanatomy 



This review was supported by the: (1) Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse; (2) National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH083928); (3) National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (HAT); (4) Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship (HAT); (5) Meyerhoff Fellowship (HAT); and (6) Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet(RH). Special thanks to Dr. Vladimir Chefer for his thoughtful comments on the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors state that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG (Outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. A. Tejeda
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. S. Shippenberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. Henriksson
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Integrative Neuroscience SectionIntegrative Neuroscience Research BranchBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyUniversity of Maryland, BaltimoreBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of Clinical NeuroscienceKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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