Opioid ligands were investigated for their effect on hCG release from trophoblast tissue obtained from term human placenta. Data obtained indicate that opiate agonists stimulate in vitro basal hCG release from trophoblast tissue. The potency of these opioid agonists correspond to their kappa receptor selectivity, i.e., the greater the selectivity the lower is the effective concentration causing maximum stimulation. Opioid antagonists inhibit the release of hCG due to their reversal of the stimulation caused by endogenous opioid peptides. Potency of the antagonists correspond also to their kappa receptor selectivity. Antagonists reverse the stimulation of hCG release caused by agonists indicating the ligand's action is mediated by the placenta kappa opioid receptors. The bell shaped response curves for agonists and antagonists suggest that opioids play a role in the regulation of hCG release from trophoblast tissue, but other mechanism(s) may also exist.
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