Abstract. To evaluate a possible role for endogenous opiates in modulating sympathetic-adrenal function in humans, we measured plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine (radioenzymatic method), blood pressure and heart rate in 8 normal men (aged 24–33 years) before and after placebo or different doses (0.4, 4.8, 10 mg) of naloxone. In 6 subjects plasma insulin and glucagon levels were also measured by radioimmunoassay after placebo and 10 mg naloxone.
Naloxone had no significant effect upon blood pressure, heart rate, plasma insulin, glucagon or norepinephrine. Placebo, 0.4 and 4.8 mg naloxone caused no significant change in peripheral levels of epinephrine while 10 mg produced an increase in epinephrine concentrations 15 min after iv injection (186 ± 23 vs 99 ± 9 pmol/l, P < 0.01).
Since naloxone did not modify plasma levels of insulin and glucagon, an indirect effect of naloxone on adrenal medullary secretion seems to be excluded.
These results are in agreement with in vitro experimental data obtained in animals and suggest that endogenous opiates also have a role in modulating adrenal medullary secretion in man.