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The octapeptide form of CCK predominates in the central nervous system (CNS) of mammalian species, including man. Many of the physiological roles of CCK in the CNS are unknown, but it is believed to be involved in nociception. CCK is distributed throughout cortical grey matter, periaqueductal grey matter, ventromedial thalamus and spinal dorsal horn, all of which are areas known to be associated with pain modulation. CCK receptor subtypes have been identified and may be classified according to their affinity for the sulphated and desulphated forms of CCK-8 and the recently described selective antagonist. MK-329. CCK-A receptors have high affinity for sulphated CCK-8 and for MK-329 but low affinity for desulphated CCK-8 and CCK-4 whilst CCK-B sites bind MK-329 with low affinity and discriminate poorly between sulphated and desulphated CCK-8. CCK-A receptors are found predominantly in peripheral tissues but they also exist in discrete regions of the primate CNS, including the spinal cord. CCK-B receptors are found ubiquitously throughout other regions of the neuraxis. The results of studies on the effects of CCK-8 and the decapeptide analogue caerulein on pain thresholds are conflicting. Some workers suggest that large doses of CCK-8 and caerulein induce naloxone-reversible analgesia in certain pain models. However, it appears likely that analgesia induced by large doses of CCK and caerulein in animals may be a pharmacological rather than a physiological phenomenon. Accordingly, others have found that small (and most probably, physiological) doses of CCK-8 attenuate the analgesic effects of morphine, and of endogenous opioids. Thus, it has been proposed that CCK may act as an endogenous opiate antagonist. Studies in rats with the selective CCK antagonist MK-329 have helped clarify the interaction between CCK and morphine-induced analgesia. Treatment with MK-329 enhances morphine analgesia and chronic treatment with MK-329 prevents the development of tolerance to morphine analgesia. However, the antagonist does not prevent naloxone-precipitated withdrawal symptoms in morphine-dependent rats. In man, caerulein prevents pain associated with gall-bladder contraction, probably by relaxation of the sphincter of Oddi. Caerulein has also been shown to reduce renal colic and the pain of intermittent claudication. Preliminary clinical studies with the weak, non-selective, CCK antagonist proglumide, indicate an enhancement of morphine analgesia. As yet, no studies have demonstrated analgesic effects of CCK antagonists in man when administered alone.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)


Journal article



Publication Date





307 - 328


Analgesia, Animals, Ceruletide, Cholecystokinin, Humans, Pain, Receptors, Cholecystokinin