Pain, motivation, migraine, and the microbiome: new frontiers for opioid systems and disease

Kyle E. Parker, Elizabeth Sugiarto, Anna M.W. Taylor, Amynah A. Pradhan, Ream Al-Hasani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


For decades the broad role of opioids in addiction, neuropsychiatric disorders, and pain states has been somewhat well established. However, in recent years, with the rise of technological advances, not only is the existing dogma being challenged, but we are identifying new disease areas in which opioids play a critical role. This review highlights four new areas of exploration in the opioid field. The most recent addition to the opioid family, the nociceptin receptor system, shows promise as the missing link in understanding the neurocircuitry of motivation. It is well known that activation of the kappa opioid receptor system modulates negative affect and dysphoria, but recent studies now implicate the kappa opioid system in the modulation of negative affect associated with pain. Opioids are critical in pain management; however, the often-forgotten delta opioid receptor system has been identified as a novel therapeutic target for headache disorders and migraine. Lastly, changes to the gut microbiome have been shown to directly contribute to many of the symptoms of chronic opioid use and opioid related behaviors. This review summarizes the findings from each of these areas with an emphasis on identifying new therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-444
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2020


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