Programm                 "Degeneration und Regeneration– Grundlagen, Diagnostik und Therapie"

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Opioid-Peptidergic Innervation of the Anterior Segment of the Rat Eye

Selbach J. M., Buschnack S. H., Kremmer S., Steuhl K. P.
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Essen, Germany

Purpose: Opioid mechanisms appear to influence intraocular pressure, possibly through effects on outflow. Recently discovered endogenous opioid peptides such as nociceptin are known to modulate neurotransmitter release of primary afferent neurons (especially substance P) and they have also been demonstrated in peripheral (intestinal) nerve fibers. Therefore we investigated whether there is any opioid peptidergic innervation in the anterior eye segment with respect to these newly discovered peptides.
Method: The anterior eye segments of 20 rat eyes were cut in tangential and sagittal plane and the sections stained with antibodies against nociceptin, nocistatin, endomorphin 1 and 2, leu- and met-enkephalin. Sections of the spinal cord or brain were used as positive controls to show that the antibodies were working in the material.
Results: A weak staining for met- and leu-enkephalin could be seen in the iris and ciliary body. Nerve fibers immunoreative for nociceptin, nocistatin, endomorphin1 or 2 have not been detected in any part of the anterior eye segment. Immunoreactivity for these peptides could however be identified in the spinal cord and in parts of the brain serving as positive control.
Conclusions: Under normal conditions there is only little opioid peptidergic innervation in the anterior eye segment of healthy eyes and thus it possibly only plays a minor role

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