Fewer beta-endorphin expressing arcuate nucleus neurons and reduced beta-endorphinergic innervation of paraventricular neurons in schizophrenics and patients with depression

Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 2002:48 Online Pub:OL259-65.


In order to elucidate whether the hypothalamic expression of beta-endorphin is altered in patients with mental disorders we studied the cellular localization of the peptide in arcuate nucleus neurons as well as the beta-endorphinergic innervation of paraventricular neurons in nine schizophrenics, six subjects with depression, and nine controls. A polyclonal antiserum against beta-endorphin was employed for the immunohistochemical detection of the peptide in sections of postmortem human brains. Quantitative analysis revealed that the number of beta-endorphin-containing arcuate neurons was statistically reduced in schizophrenics and depressives in comparison to controls. Moreover, the number of endorphinoceptive (i.e. beta-endorphin-innervated) paraventricular nerve cells was also lower in psychiatric patients than in control cases. Our results showing an altered endorphinergic system in human hypothalami of schizophrenics and depressives might contribute to a renewal of interest in this peptide as a possible factor of importance in psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / pathology*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / pathology
  • Depressive Disorder / pathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / pathology*
  • Reference Values
  • Schizophrenia / pathology*
  • beta-Endorphin / metabolism*


  • beta-Endorphin