Infusion of β-endorphin has no suppressive effect on the releasing hormone-stimulated pituitary-adrenal-axis of normal human subjects

in European Journal of Endocrinology
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The existence of a short-loop feedback inhibition of pituitary ACTH release by administration of β-endorphin was postulated. However, data on the effect of peripherally administered β-endorphin in humans are highly controversial. We infused human synthetic β-endorphin at a constant rate of 1 μg · kg−1 · min−1 or normal saline to 7 normal volunteers for 90 min. Thirty min after starting the β-endorphin or placebo infusion, releasing hormones were injected as a bolus iv (oCRH and GHRH 1 μg/kg, GnRH 100 μg, TRH 200 μg) and blood was drawn for measurements of β-endorphin immunoreactivity, all other pituitary hormones, and cortisol. Infusion of β-endorphin resulted in high β-endorphin plasma levels with a rapid decrease after the infusion was stopped. During the control infusion, β-endorphin plasma levels rose in response to CRH. Plasma ACTH and serum cortisol levels in response to the releasing hormone were not different in subjects infused with β-endorphin or placebo. The PRL response to TRH was significantly higher after β-endorphin than after placebo (area under the stimulation curve 1209±183 vs 834±104 μg · 1−1 · h). There was no difference in the response of all other hormones measured. Our data on ACTH and cortisol secretion do not support the concept of a shortloop negative feedback of β-endorphin acting at the site of the pituitary.


     European Society of Endocrinology

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