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American Society for Action on Pain

UI - 000003

AU - Cohen MR

AU - Pickar D

AU - Dubois M

TI - The role of the endogenous opioid system in the human stress response

AB - IN: NIMH Clinical Neuroscience Branch, Section on Clinical Studies, Bethesda, MD LA: English AB:

Reviews the utilized strategies and the status of experimental work on the involvement of the endogenous

opioid system (EOS) in human adaptation to stressors. Three principal research strategies have been used:

(1) measurement of endorphin levels in body fluids (CSF and plasma) in relationship to the stress response

and the evaluation of effects on the stress response, (2) enhancement of the functioning of the EOS by

administering an opioid agonist, and (3) suppression of the functioning of the EOS by the administration of

an opioid antagonist (principally naloxone). Clinical studies with humans have demonstrated some stress-

induced analgesia, increased plasma levels of beta-endorphin after demanding physical exercise and in later

stages of labor, and decreases in lumbar CSF opioid levels in Ss suffering from chronic pain. In surgical

studies, evidence was found that elevated plasma beta-endorphin levels may be considered a biologic marker

of the human stress response. In addition, alterations in the physiological response to surgical stress followed

administration of opiates, suggesting the potential of the EOS to modify stress responses. (75 ref) (PsycLIT

Database Copyright 1984 American Psychological Assn, all rights reserved) KP: endogenous opioids; stress

responses; humans; literature review AN: 71-28038

SO - Psychiatric Clinics of North America 1983;6:457-471