A preliminary study of beta endorphin during chronic naltrexone maintenance treatment in ex-opiate addicts

Life Sci. 1986 Jul 7;39(1):55-9. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(86)90437-6.


Because opioid antagonists acutely produce rises in serum beta endorphin, we studied beta endorphin levels in 21 former opiate addicts chronically taking naltrexone. The mean AM (19.5 pg/ml) beta endorphin level was higher than the AM mean for 39 normals under 40 years old (12.1 pg/ml) (t = 3.2, p less than 0.001); the mean PM level for the naltrexone treated patients was 13.6 pg/ml. Four patients had beta endorphin levels more than 2 S.D. above the mean for the normals (greater than 26.4 pg/ml), and six others had relatively elevated PM levels. Thus, 47% (10/21) had abnormal patterns of beta endorphin levels. We had previously reported abnormally high cortisol levels in these patients, and AM cortisol correlated with AM beta endorphin levels (r = 0.7, p less than 0.001). We concluded that sustained beta endorphin elevations may occur during chronic naltrexone treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Endorphins / blood*
  • Heroin Dependence
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Naltrexone / pharmacology*
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / blood*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy
  • beta-Endorphin


  • Endorphins
  • Naltrexone
  • beta-Endorphin
  • Hydrocortisone