Effect of stress and dexamethasone on immunoreactive β‐endorphin levels in rat hypothalamus and pineal
ABSTRACT In response to mild stress the levels of immunoreactive β-endorphin in rat anterior pituitary, hypothalamus and pineal fell within 10 minutes from 210 to 129 pmol/lobe, 1.47 to 0.89 pmol/mg protein and 2.53 to 0.41 pmol/gland, respectively. No alterations were found to take place in β-endorphin levels in posterior pituitary or plasma. Dexamethasone pre-treatment given 18 h prior to stress resulted in significantly greater reduction of β-endorphin levels in hypothalamus and pineal than stress alone—hypothalamic levels fell to 0.73 pmol/mg protein and pineal to 0.07 pmol/gland. Plasma β-endorphin levels in dexamethasone pretreated stressed rats were significantly lower than in intact rats (42 fmol/ml vs. 98 fmol/ml). The almost complete disappearance of β-endorphin from the pineal in response to stress and dexamethasone suggests that pineal does not itself synthesize the hormone but only utilizes and/or stores it. Gel filtration analysis of the β-endorphin im-munoreactivity in tissue extracts and plasma showed that anterior pituitary and plasma contain three immunoreactive components, eluting like β-endorphin,βP-Epotropin and pro-opiocortin, whereas only β-endorphin-like material was detected in posterior pituitary, hypothalamus and pineal.