For many years, opioids were thought to be ineffective for neuropathic pain. However, this attitude is changing.

[*] Przewlocki R and Przewlocka B (2005). Opioids in neuropathic pain. Curr Pharm Des 11: 3013-25. Opiates lack potent analgesic efficacy in neuropathic pain although it is now generally accepted that the poor effect of these drugs reflects a reduction in their potency. Reduction of morphine antinociceptive potency was postulated to be due to the fact that nerve injury altered the activity of opioid systems or opioid specific signaling. Endogenous opioid systems were found to be represented in the regions involved in the nociception and are implicated in chronic pain. Opioid peptides biosynthesis and opioid receptors density in the nociceptive pathways and their functions change under various conditions associated with neuropathic pain following damage to the spinal cord and injury of peripheral nerves. Identification of a role of opioid systems in neuropathic pain and molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying these processes are of importance to understanding of the opioid action in neuropathic pain that will hopefully facilitate development of therapeutic strategies in which effectiveness of opioids in alleviation neuropathic pain is increased. Department of Molecular Neuropharmacology, Institute of Pharmacology, 12 Smetna Street, 31-343 Krakow, Poland.