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Int J Pancreatol. 1989 Sep;5(2):165-78.

Effects of beta-endorphin, met-enkephalin, and dynorphin A on basal and stimulated insulin secretion in the mouse.

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Department of Pharmacology, Lund University, Sweden.


Since opioid peptides and opiate receptors have been demonstrated in the pancreatic islets, we investigated the effects of beta-endorphin, met-enkephalin, and dynorphin A, on basal and stimulated insulin secretion in the mouse. Each of the three opioid peptides was injected intravenously (0.06-64 nmol/kg) alone or together with each of the three insulin releasing agents glucose (2.8 mmol/kg), carbachol (cholinergic agonist, 0.16 mumol/kg), or terbutaline (beta 2-adrenoceptor agonist, 3.6 mumol/kg). It was found that beta-endorphin, met-enkephalin, and dynorphin A were all without effect on basal plasma insulin levels, except a slight elevation by beta-endorphin induced at 2 min after its injection at 64 nmol/kg (to 41 +/- 2 microU/mL vs 28 +/- 4 microU/mL in controls; p less than 0.05). Glucose- and terbutaline-induced insulin secretion were inhibited by beta-endorphin at the lower dose levels of 0.25 (p less than 0.01) and 1 nmol/kg (p less than 0.05). This effect was counteracted by the opiate receptor antagonist naloxone (500 micrograms/kg). In contrast, beta-endorphin at the high dose levels of 16 and 64 nmol/kg augmented the glucose- and terbutaline-induced insulin secretion (p less than 0.05). Carbachol-induced insulin secretion was not affected by beta-endorphin at the lower dose levels but augmented by the peptide at 64 nmol/kg (p less than 0.01). Met-enkephalin inhibited glucose- (p less than 0.01) and terbutaline- (p less than 0.05) induced insulin secretion at the high dose rates of 16 and 64 nmol/kg, but the peptide was without effect on carbachol-induced insulin secretion. The inhibitory effects were counteracted by naloxone. Dynorphin A did not affect stimulated insulin secretion at any of the dose levels tested. In summary, in the mouse 1. beta-Endorphin at low dose levels inhibits and at high dose levels augments stimulated insulin secretion; 2. Met-enkephalin inhibits stimulated insulin secretion; and 3. Dynorphin A does not affect insulin secretion. It is suggested that the main influence of beta-endorphin and met-enkephalin under in vivo conditions in the mouse is to inhibit stimulated insulin secretion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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