Cardiac synthesis, processing, and coronary release of enkephalin-related peptides

Antoine Younès, Salvatore Pepe, Barbara A. Barron, Harold A. Spurgeon, Edward G. Lakatta, James L. Caffrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Although preproenkephalin mRNA is abundant in the heart, the myocardial synthesis and processing of proenkephalin is largely undefined. Isolated working rat hearts were perfused to determine the rate of myocardial proenkephalin synthesis, its processing into enkephalin-containing peptides, their subsequent release into the coronary arteries, and the influence of prior sympathectomy. Enkephalin-containing peptides were separated by gel filtration and quantified with antisera for specific COOH-terminal sequences. Proenkephalin, peptide B, and [Met5]enkephalin-Arg6-Phe7 (MEAP) comprised 95% of the extracted myocardial enkephalins (35 pmol/g). Newly synthesized enkephalins, estimated during a 1-h perfusion with [14C]phenylalanine (4 pmol·h-1·g wet wt-1), were rapidly cleared from the heart during a second isotope-free hour. Despite a steady release of enkephalins into the coronary effluent (4 pmol·h-1·g wet wt-1), enkephalin replacement apparently exceeded its release, and tissue enkephalins actually accumulated during hour 2. In contrast to the tissue, methionine-enkephalin accounted for more than half of the released enkephalin. Chemical sympathectomy produced an increase in total enkephalin content similar to that observed after 2-h control perfusion. This observation suggested that the normal turnover of myocardial enkephalin may depend in part on continued sympathetic influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1989-H1998
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4 48-4
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Enkephalin-containing peptides
  • Opioids
  • Rat heart

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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