Opioid peptides modulate the organization of vimentin filaments, phagocytic activity, and expression of surface molecules in monocytes
Prieto J, Subirá ML, Castilla A, Arroyo JL, Serrano M.
It is theorized that intermediate filaments are important in the modulation of membrane activity and cell motility; however, their functions are unknown.
The assembly and organization of these filaments are under hormonal regulation. We investigated in human monocytes the in vitro effects of Met-enkephalin, Leu-enkephalin, and beta-endorphin on the expression of immunoreactive cytoskeletal vimentin filaments.
We simultaneously examined their effect on the phagocytosis of Candida albicans and on the membrane display of surface molecules. The three opioid peptides markedly reduced the expression of vimentin filaments, the phagocytic activity, and the display of HLA-DR molecules at concentrations of 10(-6), 10(-8), and 10(-10) M. On the other hand, the intravenous administration of fentanyl, a synthetic opiate agonist, to patients undergoing surgery induced similar changes in monocytes. In other experiments, 10(-8) M beta-endorphin also decreased the expression of CR3 but did not influence the display of CD13, a surface protein of unknown function. Expression of vimentin filaments correlated directly with the display of HLA-DR antigens and CR3 and with the phagocytic activity. The results of this paper indicate that opiates and opioids, neuropeptides known to be released during stress, can directly depress several monocyte functions.
Furthermore, from these data it may be speculated that intermediate filaments may regulate the membrane expression of some surface molecules and the phagocytic process.