Cultured astrocytes release proenkephalin

David K. Batter*, Marie Helene Vilijn, John Kessler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Astrocytes as well as neurons express the mRNA encoding the opioid peptide precursor, proenkephalin. In neurons proenkephalin is cleaved intracellularly to yield smaller, bioactive peptides such as Met-enkephalin and Leu-enkephalin. By contrast, utilizing a combination of radioimmunoassay and chromatographic analysis, we report here that astrocytes cultured from neonatal rat brain contain primarily unprocessed proenkephalin and only small amounts of Met-enkephalin. Further, similar experiments with and without the inclusion of several peptidase inhibitors indicate that cultured astrocytes release proenkephalin itself into the medium where it may be subsequently cleaved to smaller peptide products. The release of intact proenkephalin by astrocytes suggests that the glial propeptide subserves a different function than neuronal proenkephalin and that opioid peptides may play novel roles in the central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-32
Number of pages5
JournalBrain research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 1 1991


  • Astrocytes
  • Enkephalin
  • Neuropeptide
  • Opiate
  • Proenkephalin
  • Secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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