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Neuroscience. 1998 Aug;85(3):659-62.

Nociceptive stimulus induces release of endogenous beta-endorphin in the rat brain.

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Department of Life Science, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.


The hypothesis that the naturally occurring analgesic peptide, beta-endorphin, is released in the brain in response to pain had never been directly validated. In this study, we applied a brain microdialysis method for monitoring beta-endorphin release in vivo, to test this hypothesis in the brains of conscious, freely moving rats. Herein we first show that endogenous beta-endorphin can be measured in vivo in the brain under physiological conditions. Upon induction of a nociceptive stimulus by injection of formalin into the hind-paws of rats, the extracellular levels of beta-endorphin in their arcuate nucleus increased by 88%, corresponding to their nociceptive response. This direct evidence for the release of endogenous beta-endorphin in the brain in response to nociceptive stimulus indicates a possible mechanism for organisms to cope with pain.

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