DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Light micrograph (LM) of Enkephalin (endorphin) crystals. Enkephalin is a naturally occurring peptide endorphin (penta-peptide) isolated from the brain that has strong effects similar to opiates, and probably functions as a neurotransmitter. Endorphins bind to the opioid receptors in the brain. They disinhibit the dopamine pathways, causing more dopamine to be released into the synapses. Endorphins are endogenous opioid biochemical compounds. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates, and resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a sense of well-being. In other words, they work as natural pain killers. The term endorphin is used generally to refer to all of the endogenous opioid compounds and implies a pharmacological activity (analogous to the activity of the corticosteroid category of biochemicals). Magnification: x40 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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