CSF and plasma beta-casomorphin-like opioid peptides in postpartum psychosis

Am J Psychiatry. 1984 Sep;141(9):1059-66. doi: 10.1176/ajp.141.9.1059.


The authors measured opioid receptor-active components in the CSF of 11 women with postpartum psychosis, 11 healthy lactating women, and 16 healthy women who were not lactating. Activity that eluted with 0.2 M acetic acid 0.7-0.9 times the total volume of the column (fraction II activity) was significantly higher in the CSF of both healthy and psychotic women in the puerperium than in that of the lactating women. Very high levels of fraction II activity were seen in four psychotic patients. Material from these patients was further characterized by electrophoresis and high-performance liquid chromatography: The material migrated as bovine beta-casomorphin. Receptor-active material with the same characteristics was also found in the plasma of these four patients. The authors conclude that certain cases of postpartum psychosis are associated with the occurrence in plasma and CSF of unique opioid peptides probably related to bovine beta-casomorphin.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Endorphins / blood
  • Endorphins / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Endorphins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotic Disorders / blood
  • Psychotic Disorders / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Psychotic Disorders / metabolism*
  • Puerperal Disorders / blood
  • Puerperal Disorders / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Puerperal Disorders / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Opioid / blood
  • Receptors, Opioid / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Receptors, Opioid / metabolism*


  • Endorphins
  • Receptors, Opioid
  • beta-casomorphins