From Pharmacology to Physiology: Endocrine Functions of μ-Opioid Receptor Networks

Nikolai Jaschke, Sophie Pählig, Ying Xian Pan, Lorenz C. Hofbauer, Andy Göbel, Tilman D. Rachner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The steady rise in opioid users and abusers has uncovered multiple detrimental health consequences of perturbed opioid receptor signaling, thereby creating the need to better understand the biology of these systems. Among endogenous opioid networks, μ-receptors have received special attention due to their unprecedented biological complexity and broad implications in homeostatic functions. Here, we review the origin, molecular biology, and physiology of endogenous opioids with a special focus on μ-opioid receptor networks within the endocrine system. Moreover, we summarize the current evidence supporting an involvement of the latter in regulating distinct endocrine functions. Finally, we combine these insights to present an integrated perspective on μ-opioid receptor biology and provide an outlook on future studies and unresolved questions in this field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-319
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


  • GPCR
  • evolution
  • hormones
  • opioids
  • oprm1
  • β-endorphin
  • μ-receptors


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