Peripheral beta-endorphin and pain modulation

Anesth Prog. 1991 May-Jun;38(3):75-8.


Beta-endorphin is a peptide with morphine-like effects produced primarily in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. After its cleavage from the parent molecule, proopiomelanocortin, beta-endorphin is circulated via the blood stream to interact with specific opioid receptors located throughout the body. The peptide produces analgesia by inhibiting the firing of peripheral somatosensory fibers. It also affects other senses, such as vision, hearing, and smell. Whereas the ability to increase beta-endorphin secretion during times of surgical stress is positively correlated with amelioration of pain, the administration of exogenous opioids, such as fentanyl, reduces plasma beta-endorphin. Decreased beta-endorphin concentrations may play a role in trigeminal neuralgia, migraine headache, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nociceptors / physiology
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • beta-Endorphin / physiology*


  • beta-Endorphin