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March 1979

Improvement of Schizophrenic Patients Treated With Des-Tyr1]-γ-endorphin (DTγE)

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry (Drs Verhoeven and Praag), and the Rudolf Magnus Institute for Pharmacology (Drs van Ree and de Wied), State University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(3):294-298. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780030060005

• It was postulated from animal experiments that γ-endorphin and, in particular, the nonopiate-like peptide [des-Tyr1]-γ-endorphin (DTγE, β-lipotropin [β-LPH]62-77) have neuroleptic-like activity. To test this, 14 patients with long-lasting, relapsing schizophrenic or schizoaffective psychosis resistant to conventional neuroleptics were treated with DTγE. An open design was used first for six patients (study 1) and a double-blind, crossover design for the other eight (study 2). In study 1, all neuroleptic medication was discontinued and 1 mg of DTγE zinc phosphate was given daily intramuscularly for about seven days. In study 2, six patients were maintained with neuroleptic therapy and two patients were drug free; all eight received daily intramuscular injections of 1 mg of nonlasting DTγE in saline solution for eight days. There was transient or semipermanent improvement in both studies in which the psychotic symptoms diminished or even disappeared. In study 2, there was a slight but significant improvement with the first treatment. Improvement continued and by day 4, the psychotic symptoms had almost disappeared. No toxic side effects were noted. These effects of DTγE may be a consequence of the normalization of β-endorphin homeostasis in the brain.