The measurement of endorphins in body fluids

D. Naber, D. Pickar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The measurement of endorphins in body fluids has been an important advance in clinical research attempting to link the endogenous opioid system to psychiatric illness and symptomatology. The consideration of methodologic differences in assay technique and in clinical methods is important in evaluating results of studies. Whereas findings in early clinical studies supported the notion of increased endorphin system function in patients with schizophrenia, cumulative data from the considerable number of studies carried out throughout world centers have been unable to demonstrate a consistent abnormality in levels of endorphins in CSF or plasma of patients with schizophrenia. Among the affective disorders, data suggest the possibility of relative changes in levels of opioids within individual manic-depressive patients when studied across state change from depression to mania. In studies of depressive illness there is accumulating evidence that the endogenous opioid system may relate or contribute to abnormality of the HPA axis. In their work measuring opioids in CSF the authors have observed relationships between anxiety and CSF opioids in normals and psychiatric patients and changes in CSF opioid activity in patients with anorexia nervosa accompanying weight change. These data are consistent with other evidence linking endorphins to CNS noradrenergic systems and to biologic response to stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-456
Number of pages14
JournalPsychiatric Clinics of North America
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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