Identification of a μ opiate receptor signaling mechanism in human placenta

Kirk J. Mantione, Robert M. Angert, Patrick Cadet, Richard M. Kream, George B. Stefano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Previous studies report that genes in the morphine biosynthetic pathway have been found in placental tissue. Prior researchers have shown that kappa opioid receptors are present in human placenta. We determined if a μ opiate receptor was present and which subtype was expressed in human placenta. We also sought to demonstrate a functional μ4 opiate receptor in human placenta. Material/Methods: Polymerase chain reactions as well as DNA sequencing were performed to identify the μ1 opiate receptor subtypes present in human placenta. The functionality of the receptor was demonstrated by real time amperometric measurements of morphine induced NO release. Results: The μ4 opiate receptor sequence was present as well as the μ1 opioid receptor transcript. The addition of morphine to placental tissue resulted in immediate nitric oxide release and this effect was blocked by naloxone. Conclusions: In the present study, an intact morphine signaling system has been demonstrated in human placenta. Morphine signaling in human placenta probably functions to regulate the immune, vascular, and endocrine functions of this organ via NO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-352
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Science Monitor
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2010


  • Endogenous morphine
  • Nitric oxide
  • Opiate receptors
  • Placenta
  • Preeclampsia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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