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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1986 Mar;62(3):577-82.

Opioid modulation of normal and pathological human chromaffin tissue.


To evaluate whether opioid receptor blockade might modulate sympathetic-adrenal activity, we studied the effects of placebo or naloxone administration on plasma catecholamine (CA) levels in a group of 13 normal subjects and 15 hypertensive patients suspected to have a pheochromocytoma. Diagnostic evaluation confirmed the presence of pheochromocytoma in 9 patients. Among these, 4 had a unilateral epinephrine (E)-secreting tumor, 3 had bilateral E-secreting tumors due to multiple endocrine adenomatosis type IIa, and 2 had a unilateral norepinephrine (NE)-secreting tumor. In each subject studied, CA secretion was evaluated by calculating the area (0-30 min) under the plasma hormone curves after placebo or naloxone administration. In normal subjects naloxone caused a significant increase (P less than 0.005) of E secretion, whereas NE did not change. Similarly, in the group of hypertensive patients, E secretion increased after naloxone (P less than 0.01). In pheochromocytoma patients naloxone caused a significant increase in E (P less than 0.05) and NE (P less than 0.01) secretion from E-producing tumors but no increase in the patients with NE-secreting pheochromocytomas. The study suggests that CA secretion from normal and pathological chromaffin tissue is modulated by endogenous opioids; this modulation seems particularly evident in patients with E-secreting pheochromocytoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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