Beta-endorphin response to exercise. An update

Sports Med. 1997 Jul;24(1):8-16. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199724010-00002.


beta-Endorphin, a 31-amino-acid peptide, is primarily synthesised in the anterior pituitary gland and cleaved from pro-opiomelanocortin, its larger precursor molecule. beta-Endorphin can be released into the circulation from the pituitary gland or can project into areas of the brain through nerve fibres. Exercise of sufficient intensity and duration has been demonstrated to increase circulating beta-endorphin levels. Previous reviews have presented the background of opioids and exercise and discussed the changes in beta-endorphin levels in response to aerobic and anaerobic exercise. The present review is to update the response of beta-endorphin to exercise. This review suggests that exercise-induced beta-endorphin alterations are related to type of exercise and special populations tested, and may differ in individuals with health problems. Additionally, some of the possible mechanisms which may induce beta-endorphin changes in the circulation include analgesia, lactate or base excess, and metabolic factors. Based on the type of exercise, different mechanisms may be involved in the regulation of beta-endorphin release during exercise.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • beta-Endorphin / metabolism
  • beta-Endorphin / physiology*


  • beta-Endorphin