Endorphins in the cerebrospinal fluid of psychiatric patients

D. Pickar, D. Naber, R. M. Post

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In this paper we have reported the results of studies in psychiatric patient groups using the strategy of measuring opioid activity and β-endorphin (ir) in CSF. Our findings do not lend support to the notion of excess endorphin activity in schizophrenia, but rather suggest the possibility of a decrease in endogenous opioid activity in some schizophrenic patients. In affectively ill patients our data suggest that there may be a relative change in endogenous opioid system activity across state change in manic-depressive illness. We also found a relationship between nurses' ratings of anxiety and CSF opioid activity in depressed patients, although it is unknown whether this directly relates to the pathophysiology of this symptom, or is related to stress response. The relationship between CSF opioid activity and HPA axis activity, as reflected by urinary free cortisol excretion supports the notion of important physiologic relationships between these systems and raises the issue of a role for the endogenous opioid system in the abnormal activation of this system in depression. Finally, the finding of increased CSF opioid activity in anorexia nervosa patients when a minimum weight coupled with data relating endogenous opioids to eating behavior raises interesting questions regarding a possible involvement of the endogenous opioid system involvement in this illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-412
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
VolumeVol. 398
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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