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A review of the kappa opioid receptor system in opioid use.

The kappa opioid receptor (KOR) system is implicated in dysphoria and as an "anti-reward system" during withdrawal from opioids. However, no clear consensus has been made in the field, as mixed findings have been reported regarding the relationship between the KOR system and opioid use. This review summarizes the studies to date on the KOR system and opioids. A systematic scoping review was reported following PRISMA guidelines and conducted based on the published protocol. Comprehensive searches of several databases were done in the following databases: MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Scopus, and Cochrane. We included preclinical and clinical studies that tested the administration of KOR agonists/antagonists or dynorphin and/or measured dynorphin levels or KOR expression during opioid intoxication or withdrawal from opioids. One hundred studies were included in the final analysis. Preclinical administration of KOR agonists decreased drug-seeking/taking behaviors and opioid withdrawal symptoms. KOR antagonists showed mixed findings, depending on the agent and/or type of withdrawal symptom. Administration of dynorphins attenuated opioid withdrawal symptoms both in preclinical and clinical studies. In the limited number of available studies, dynorphin levels were found to increase in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) of opioid use disorder subjects (OUD). In animals, dynorphin levels and/or KOR expression showed mixed findings during opioid use. The KOR/dynorphin system appears to have a multifaceted and complex nature rather than simply functioning as an anti-reward system. Future research in well-controlled study settings is necessary to better understand the clinical role of the KOR system in opioid use.

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