Are Exogenous Opioids Considered To Be Neuropeptides?

  • Thread starter FredericChopin
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In summary: Yes. As opioid peptides mimic the activity of endogenous peptides, they can be considered neuromodulators.
  • #1
One class of neuromodulator are the neuropeptides.

An example of enodogenous neuropeptides are the opioids like enkephalin, endorphin, and dynorphin, which the body produces naturally. But can exogenous opioids like morphine and heroine be classified as "neuropeptides"?

Thank you.
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  • #2
No. Neuropeptides are classified as such because they have the chemical structure of peptides (polymers of amino acids). Thus, this is most of a classification based on the structure of the molecule than its function.

Many exogenous opiods like heroin and morphine manage to mimic the shape and biological activity of these neuropeptides while being quite distinct chemically. So despite their ability to act like neuropeptides, heroin and morphine are not classified as neuropeptides.
  • #3
I take a different approach than Ygggdrasil. Canonically, there are four criteria for defining a neurotransmitter (of which neuropeptides are a particular class); they are mostly bio-functional criteria [1], not particularly chemical structure based; the first is:

1. The substance must be present within the presynaptic neuron. Clearly, a chemical cannot be secreted from a presynaptic neuron unless it is present there. Because elaborate biochemical pathways are required to produce neurotransmitters, showing that the enzymes and precursors required to synthesize the substance are present in presynaptic neurons provides additional evidence that the substance is used as a transmitter. Note, however, that since the transmitters glutamate, glycine, and aspartate are also needed for protein synthesis and other metabolic reactions in all neurons, their presence is not sufficient evidence to establish them as neurotransmitters.

So the drug being exogenous, by definition, disqualifies it from being a neurotransmitter in the first place.
  • #4
Thank you for your responses.

Neurmodulators can fall into the categories of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters. Neuropeptides are proteins, while neurotransmitters are small molecules. So morphine and heroine (small molecules) wouldn't fall into the category of neuropeptides because they aren't proteins, and as Pythagorean pointed out, they wouldn't fall into the category of neurtransmitters either.

So another question is: Can exogenous opioids like morphine and heroine be considered "neuromodulators"? I have a feeling "no", because even though they "modulate" neuroactivity, similar to what Ygggdrasil said, it is not a matter of function, but structure of the compounds.

Is this correct?

Thank you.
  • #5

I can confirm that exogenous opioids such as morphine and heroin are not considered neuropeptides. Neuropeptides are a class of neuromodulators that are produced naturally by the body, specifically in the central and peripheral nervous systems. They play important roles in regulating various physiological processes, including pain perception, mood, and behavior.

While opioids do act on the same receptors as neuropeptides, they are not produced by the body and therefore cannot be classified as neuropeptides. Exogenous opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic substances that are derived from the opium poppy plant or created in a laboratory. They are used for their pain-relieving and euphoric effects, but they do not have the same function or structure as neuropeptides.

In summary, while opioids do have some similarities to neuropeptides, they are not considered to be neuropeptides themselves. It is important to differentiate between these two substances in order to better understand their effects on the body and develop appropriate treatment strategies for opioid addiction and pain management.

1. What are exogenous opioids?

Exogenous opioids are drugs that are derived from the opium poppy plant or synthesized in a laboratory, and act on the body's opioid receptors to produce pain relief, sedation, and a sense of euphoria.

2. How do exogenous opioids affect the body's neuropeptides?

Exogenous opioids bind to the same receptors as endogenous neuropeptides, or naturally occurring peptides in the body. This can lead to a disruption in the normal functioning of neuropeptides, which can impact various physiological processes.

3. Are exogenous opioids considered to be neuropeptides?

No, exogenous opioids are not considered to be neuropeptides. Neuropeptides are produced naturally in the body, while exogenous opioids are introduced from outside sources.

4. What are the potential risks of using exogenous opioids?

Exogenous opioids can cause a range of side effects, including respiratory depression, nausea, constipation, drowsiness, and addiction. They can also interact with other medications and substances, increasing the risk of adverse reactions.

5. How are exogenous opioids used in medical treatments?

Exogenous opioids are commonly used in medical treatments to manage pain, particularly in cases of acute or chronic pain. They may also be used as part of anesthesia during surgical procedures. However, due to their potential for abuse and addiction, they are closely regulated and monitored by healthcare professionals.

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