Age-related changes in central nervous system beta-endorphin and ACTH

S. R. Gambert, T. L. Garthwaite, C. H. Pontzer, T. C. Hagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aging is associated with alterations in mood, thermoregulation, pain threshold, and stress response. Because these functions may be modulated by endogenous opiates, we measured immunoreactive ACTH and β-endorphin in discrete brain areas and pituitary glands from rats aged 6 weeks (young), 6 months (mature), and 20–24 months (senescent). β-Endorphin and ACTH declined significantly with aging in the hypothalamus and corpus striatum. β-Endorphin and ACTH increased in the frontal lobe during early life; however, no change was noted after maturity. A discordant response with age was noted in the pituitary in that ACTH did not change, while β-endorphin increased early in life without change after maturity. Cerebellar tissue exhibited no immunoreactive ACTH or β-endorphin. Age-related changes in brain and pituitary β-endorphin and ACTH must be considered in the evaluation of the physiological aging process and when comparing studies of these neuropeptides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-255
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1980


  • ACTH
  • Age
  • Brain
  • Pituitary
  • β-Endorphin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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