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May 1993

β-Endorphin Responsiveness in Depression

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry State University of New York at Buffalo and Veterans Administration Medical Center 3495 Bailey Ave Buffalo, NY 14215

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1993;50(5):406. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1993.01820170092011

Young et al1 reported in the August 1991 issue of the Archives on fast-feedback inhibition of β-endorphin/β-lipotropin by hydrocortisone infusion that occurred in 16 control subjects but not in 16 depressed patients. Their data suggested a decreased sensitivity to glucocorticoid fast feedback in depression, and complemented studies demonstrating decreased sensitivity to delayed feedback by dexamethasone.

Recently we described the effects of metyrapone on pro-gamma—melanocyte-stimulating-hormone (MSH), corticotropin (ACTH), and cortisol plasma levels in 30 drugfree male patients who met the DSM-III-R criteria for a major depressive episode and 21 healthy control subjects.2The availability of a specific radioimmunoassay (RIA) for β-endorphin with no significant cross-reactivity with β-lipotropin, γ-endorphin, or metenkephalin (Peninsula Laboratories, Belmont, Calif) led us subsequently to evaluate β-endorphin and its response to metyrapone. Details of the patient population, informed consent, protocol, and methods were provided.2 The intra-assay and interassay coefficients of variation of our β-endorphin RIA

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