Beta-endorphin infusion restores acute insulin responses to glucose in type-2 diabetes mellitus

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1987 May;64(5):944-8. doi: 10.1210/jcem-64-5-944.


To address the possibility that an abnormality in pancreatic beta-endorphin activity might contribute to abnormal insulin secretion in diabetes mellitus, we studied the effects of beta-endorphin infusion on islet function in diabetic patients. The iv infusion of human beta-endorphin at a dose of 0.5 mg/h for 2 h in type-2 non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients (n = 12) raised plasma insulin and glucagon levels and slightly but significantly lowered plasma glucose concentrations. beta-Endorphin infusion also resulted in reappearance of a clear-cut acute insulin response to glucose, while second phase insulin release was increased and glucose disposal accelerated. Acute insulin and glucagon responses to arginine were not increased by beta-endorphin, suggesting that the effect of the opioid on the B cells of the diabetic patients is specific for glucose. An intraislet abnormality of opioid peptides action and/or secretion may play a role in the disturbances of insulin secretion in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus.

MeSH terms

  • Arginine
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Endorphins / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Glucagon / blood
  • Glucose Tolerance Test*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • beta-Endorphin


  • Blood Glucose
  • Endorphins
  • Insulin
  • beta-Endorphin
  • Glucagon
  • Arginine