The effect of hyperthyroidism on opiate receptor binding and pain sensitivity

Life Sci. 1990;47(24):2283-9. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(90)90160-s.


This study was conducted to determine the effect of thyroid hormone on opiate receptor ligand-binding and pain sensitivity. Specific opiate receptor-binding was performed on brain homogenates of Swiss-Webster mice. There was a significant increase in 3H-naloxone-binding in thyroxine-fed subjects (hyperthyroid). Scatchard analysis revealed that the number of opiate receptors was increased in hyperthyroid mice (Bmax = 0.238 nM for hyperthyroid samples vs. 0.174 nM for controls). Binding affinity was unaffected (Kd = 1.54 nM for hyperthyroid and 1.58 nM for control samples). When mice were subjected to hotplate stimulation, the hyperthyroid mice were noted to be more sensitive as judged by pain aversion response latencies which were half that of control animals. After morphine administration, the hyperthyroid animals demonstrated a shorter duration of analgesia. These findings demonstrate that thyroxine increases opiate receptor number and native pain sensitivity but decreases the duration of analgesia from morphine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Etorphine / metabolism
  • Hyperthyroidism / chemically induced
  • Hyperthyroidism / metabolism
  • Hyperthyroidism / physiopathology*
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Naloxone / metabolism
  • Pain*
  • Receptors, Opioid / metabolism*
  • Thyroxine


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Opioid
  • Naloxone
  • Etorphine
  • Morphine
  • Thyroxine