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Sex differences in kappa opioid pharmacology (2011)

Sex differences in kappa opioid pharmacology (2011)

  1. Calliope
    Life Sciences, 2011, 88(1):2-16

    Khampaseuth Rasakham, Lee-Yuan Liu-Chen ⁎

    Abstract
    In recent years it has become apparent that sex is a major factor involved in modulating the pharmacological effects of exogenous opioids. The kappa opioid receptor (KOPR) system is a potential therapeutic target for pain, mood disorders and addiction. In humans mixed KOPR/MOPR ligands have been found to produce greater analgesia in women than men. In contrast, in animals, selective KOPR agonists have been found to produce greater antinociceptive effects in males than females. Collectively, the studies indicate that the direction and magnitude of sex differences of KOPR-mediated antinociception/analgesia are dependent on species, strain, ligand and pain model examined. Of interest, and less studied, is whether sex differences in other KOPR mediated effects exist. In the studies conducted thus far, greater effects of KOPR agonists in males have been found in neuroprotection against stroke and suppression of food intake behavior. On the other hand, greater effects of KOPR agonists were found in females in mediation of prolactin release. In modulation of drugs of abuse, sex differences in KOPR effects were observed but appear to be dependent on the drug examined. The mechanism(s) underlying sex differences in KOPR-mediated effects may be mediated by sex chromosomes, gonadal hormonal influence on organization (circuitry) and/or acute hormonal influence on KOPR expression, distribution and localization. In light of the diverse pharmacology of KOPR we discuss the need for future studies characterizing the sexual dimorphism of KOPR neural circuitry and in examining other behaviors and processes that are modulated by the KOPR.