Presence of immunoreactive beta-endorphin in normal human plasma: a concomitant release of beta-endorphin with adrenocorticotropin after metyrapone administration.


To elucidate whether or not beta-endorphin exists in plasma of normal subjects, plasma extracts obtained before and after metyrapone administration were subjected to gel exclusion chromatography, and fractions obtained were assayed by a sensitive radioimmunoassay for beta-endorphin. The basal plasma level of beta-endorphin was 5.8 +/- 1.1 pg/ml (mean +/- SE, n = 5), which rose significantly to the level of 48.9 +/- 3.8 pg/ml after a single oral dose (30 mg/kg of body wt) of metyrapone administration (P less than 0.001). Plasma ACTH levels also increased from the mean basal level of 73 +/- 4 pg/ml to 269 +/- 41 pg/ml after metyrapone administration. These results indicate that beta-endorphin, distinct from beta-lipotropin, exists in normal human plasma and that it is released from the pituitary concomitantly with ACTH.

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