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β-Endorphin Responsiveness in Depression-Reply

Elizabeth A. Young, MD; Stanley J. Watson, MD; Roger F. Haskett, MD; Huda Akil, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1993;50(5):406-407. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1993.01820170092012.
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As noted by Morphy et al, their study involved the use of a specific RIA for β-endorphin in depressed patients. In contrast, our study used an antibody that measures both β-lipotropin and β-endorphin, and consequently is able to detect both molecular forms (β-lipotropin and β-endorphin) of the C-terminal portion of the ACTH precursor, POMC. Thus, this measure is an index of the overall secretory activity of the pituitary cells that synthesize and secrete ACTH and β-lipotropin/ β-endorphin. Changes in the processing of β-lipotropin to β-endorphin that may occur in depression could result in a different β-endorphin vs β-lipotropin response to metyrapone, eg, a decreased β-endorphin response but an increased β-lipotropin response following metyrapone in depressed patients. This explanation is completely consistent with both their data and our data in humans and rodents. In rats, we have demonstrated just such a change in anterior lobe corticotroph processing and secretion following adrenalectomy,


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