The cellular distribution of enkephalin, an endogenous opioid, in the developing rat cerebellum was determined by immunocytochemistry. Methionine and leucine enkephalin were concentrated in the external germinal layer, a matrix of proliferative cells; staining was confined to the cortical cytoplasm. Enkephalin was not detected by immunocytochemistry in differentiated neural cells. These results indicate that endogenous opioids are involved specifically in early phases ofnervous system development, particularly cell proliferation and differentiation.
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