Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Academic Editor: Rhoda Maneckjee
Dynorphins, endogenous opioid neuropeptides derived from the prodynorphin gene, are involved in a variety of normative physiologic functions including antinociception and neuroendocrine signaling, and may be protective to neurons and oligodendroglia via their opioid receptor-mediated effects. However, under experimental or pathophysiological conditions in which dynorphin levels are substantially elevated, these peptides are excitotoxic largely through actions at glutamate receptors. Because the excitotoxic actions of dynorphins require supraphysiological concentrations or prolonged tissue exposure, there has likely been little evolutionary pressure to ameliorate the maladaptive, non-opioid receptor mediated consequences of dynorphins. Thus, dynorphins can have protective and/or proapoptotic actions in neurons and glia, and the net effect may depend upon the distribution of receptors in a particular region and the amount of dynorphin released. Increased prodynorphin gene expression is observed in several disease states and disruptions in dynorphin processing can accompany pathophysiological situations. Aberrant processing may contribute to the net negative effects of dysregulated dynorphin production by tilting the balance towards dynorphin derivatives that are toxic to neurons and/or oligodendroglia. Evidence outlined in this review suggests that a variety of CNS pathologies alter dynorphin biogenesis. Such alterations are likely maladaptive and contribute to secondary injury and the pathogenesis of disease.