Nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ), the endogenous ligand of the NOP receptor, exerts a variety of effects on the gastrointestinal tract. The present study was aimed at evaluating the possible implication of N/OFQ in the maintenance of gastric mucosal integrity. N/OFQ was given either centrally or peripherally 30 min prior to intragastric administration (i.g.) of 1 ml/rat of ethanol (either 25% or 50%, v/v), which produces macroscopically visible gastric lesions. Intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injection of 2 microg/rat of N/OFQ significantly reduced lesions caused by 50% ethanol, while 1 microg/rat was enough to significantly reduce lesions caused by 25% ethanol. Intracerebroventricular injection of 5 microg/rat of the selective NOP receptor antagonist, UFP-101, completely reversed the protective effect of N/OFQ, 1 or 4 microg/rat against 25% or 50% ethanol, respectively. The intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of N/OFQ produced a significant reduction of lesions induced by 50% ethanol, the peak effect being observed at 10 microg/kg. Intraperitoneal pretreatment with UFP-101, 120 microg/kg, completely abolished the protective effect of peripherally injected N/OFQ. Therefore, N/OFQ acts both centrally and peripherally as a protective agent against ethanol-induced gastric lesions, and its effect is mediated by NOP receptors.
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