Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Enkephalins are molecules which are synthesized naturally by the central nervous system to numb pain. Enkephalins lock into receptors on the surface of a nerve cell and open ion channels. An enkephalin is a pentapeptide involved in regulating nociception in the body. The enkephalins are termed endogenous ligands, or specifically endorphins, as they are internally derived and bind to the body's opioid receptors. Discovered in 1975, two forms of enkephalin were revealed, one containing leucine ("leu"), and the other containing methionine ("met"). Both are products of the proenkephalin gene.