Opioid agonist affinity in the guinea-pig ileum and mouse vas deferens

Frank Porreca, Diane LoPresti, Susan J. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The affinity of morphine, normorphine, methadone, Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-MePhe-NH(CH2)2(N-O)(CH3)2(RX 783030), [D-Ala2,D-Leu5]enkephalin (DADLE), ketazocine and ethylketocyclazocine (EKC) were determined for their pharmacological receptors in two bioassay tissues, the guinea-pig ileum and the mouse vas deferens (MVD). The method involved the use of the irreversible antagonist, β-chlornaltrexamine (β-CNA), and the method of partial receptor blockade. The agonist concentration-effect curves were displaced to the right with decreasing maximum effect, a pattern typical of partial, irreversible blockade of receptors. The concentrations of β-CNA required to produce a rightward displacement in the concentration-effect curves for different agonists, ranged between 2 and 3000 nM. No similarity was found between the IC50 and the dissociation constant (KA), values predicted to be equivalent only if a linear relationship exists between receptor occupation and observed effect; the dissociation constant for the agonists were between 3 and 218 times larger than the IC50 values. When methadone was used as the agonist in the guinea-pig ileum, β-CNA produced parallel displacement of the concentration-effect curve, regardless of the blocking concentration chosen, preventing the determination of KA for this agonist, in this tissue; this problem was not encountered in the mouse vas deferens. The KA of morphine, RX 783030 and ketazocine were found not to differ in the guinea-pig ileum and mouse vas deferens. As expected, DADLE had significantly different affinity in the two tissues, showing 117-fold lower affinity in the guinea-pig ileum. Suprisingly, the normorphine affinity was found to be 7-fold higher in the guinea-pig ileum. While the difference in affinity of DADLE may be due to the suggested lack of functional δ receptors in the guinea-pig ileum, the difference in affinity seen with normorphine, but not morphine, in the two tissues is difficult to explain. Taken together with the insensitivity of methadone to β-CNA blockade in the guinea-pig ileum, but not mouse vas deferens, the difference in the affinity of normorphine in these tissues may suggest the possibility of differences in local milieu of μ receptors or of μ receptor subtypes in the two tissues. The results provide fundamental information regarding opioid agonist affinity in two standard bioassays in vitro, and support the view of (1) a difference in receptors activated by DADLE in the guinea-pig ileum (μ) and mouse vas deferens (δ), as well as (2) possible differences in μ-receptors in these tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 10 1990


  • Ileum (guinea-pig)
  • Opioid affinity
  • Vas deferens (mouse)
  • β-Chlornaltrexamine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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