Enkephalins, catecholamines, and psychological mood alterations: effects of prolonged exercise

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1987 Aug;19(4):347-53.


Seven healthy trained men were studied to determine if running at various relative intensities [percent maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max)] alters peripheral venous levels of leucine enkephalin-like material. Enkephalins were measured using a radio-receptor assay (Leu-Enk RRA). Subjects ran for 80 min at 40 and 60% VO2max and for 40 min at 80% VO2max. Each session was separated by at least 1 wk. Heart rate, blood pressure, lactic acid, and rectal temperature responses increased in an intensity-dependent manner. Epinephrine increased from resting values of 38.2 +/- 6.8 pg X ml-1, mean +/- SE to 75.0 +/- 13.3 pg X ml-1 during the 40% VO2max run, from 60.2 +/- 15 to 186 +/- 45 pg X ml-1 during the 60% run, and from 33.4 +/- 7.6 to 311 +/- 52 pg X ml-1 at the 40th min of the highest workload (80% VO2max). These increases were significant (P less than 0.05). Plasma Leu-Enk RRA was between 3.8 and 6.2 pmol X ml-1 prior to each run and did not change significantly as a result of exercise. Levels of Leu-Enk RRA also did not change during 30 min of supine recovery. Perception of effort increased (P less than 0.05) with increases in exercise intensity, and effort sense was unrelated to plasma Leu-Enk RRA. Psychological tension decreased significantly (P less than 0.05) following exercise at 60 and 80% of VO2max, but the decrease following the 40% run was not significant (P greater than 0.05). Reduced tension following exercise was not related to Leu-Enk RRA.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Body Temperature
  • Catecholamines / blood*
  • Dopamine / blood
  • Enkephalin, Leucine / blood*
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Lactic Acid
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Radioligand Assay


  • Catecholamines
  • Lactates
  • Lactic Acid
  • Enkephalin, Leucine
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine