Scientists have confirmed the importance of this stress-damping system - known as the nociceptin system - as a potential target for therapies against anxiety disorders and other stress-related conditions.
"We were able to demonstrate the ability of this nociceptin anti-stress system to prevent and even reverse some of the cellular effects of acute stress in an animal model," said biologist Marisa Roberto, associate professor at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the US.
Produced in the brain, nociceptin belongs to the family of opioid neurotransmitters.
Resembling morphine in pharmacological effects, opioids are derived from opium and are used for pain relief. But the resemblance essentially ends there, said the study that appeared in "Journal of Neuroscience".
Scientists wanted to know more about the anti-stress activity of the nociceptin system, in part because it might offer a better way to treat stress-related conditions.
Several studies in rodents have found evidence that nociceptin can act in the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls basic emotional responses, to counter anxiety-related stress.
"This occurs automatically as part of a natural stress-damping feedback response," said Markus Heilig from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institute for Health in the US.
--IANS (Posted on 11-01-2014)