Nociceptin system as a target in sepsis?
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The nociceptin system comprises the nociceptin receptor (NOP) and the ligand nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) that binds to the receptor. The archetypal role of the system is in pain processing but the NOP receptor is also expressed on immune cells. Activation of the NOP receptor is known to modulate inflammatory responses, such as mast-cell degranulation, neutrophil rolling, vasodilation, increased vascular permeability, adhesion molecule regulation and leucocyte recruitment. As there is a loss of regulation of inflammatory responses during sepsis, the nociceptin system could be a target for therapies aimed at modulating sepsis. This review details the known effects of NOP activation on leucocytes and the vascular endothelium and discusses the most recent human and animal data on the role of the nociceptin system in sepsis.