Beta-Endorphin in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells: Effect of Aging and Pharmacological Treatments

  • Paola Sacerdote
  • Emilio Clementi
  • Barbara Manfredi
  • Alberto E. Panerai
Part of the Hans Selye Symposia on Neuroendocrinology and Stress book series (HSSN, volume 3)


Beta-endorphin is known to affect the immune system when added in vitro or when its release is increased in vivo, e.g. during stress. Moreover, the synthesis of the beta-endorphin precursor proopiomelanocortin (POMC) has been consistently shown, by now, in several cells of the immune system, while the effect of extracellular beta-endorphin has been widely studied in vitro and in vivo. We investigated the synthesis of the opioid peptide in immune cells and its release from peripheral blood mononuclear cells obtained from normal subjects of different ages, both under resting conditions and after stimulation with polyclonal mitogens such as PHA or Con-A. The in vivo and in vitro modulation of intracellular beta-endorphin by pharmacological treatments is also described. Our findings indicate that the concentrations of beta-endorphin in peripheral blood mononuclear cells increase after the age of thirty years, and that the peptide is released by PHA or Con-A stimulation from cells obtained from subjects aged over thirty years, but not from cells of younger donors. Finally, we show that beta-endorphin is under a tonic inhibition exerted by the dopaminergic system, while serotonin exerts a tonic stimulatory effect. Preliminary data indicate that calcium homeostasis might be important for the differences observed in cells obtained from young (<30 years) or old (> 30 years) patients.


Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Newcastle Disease Virus Sodium Valproate Peripheral Mononuclear Cell Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Sample 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paola Sacerdote
    • 1
  • Emilio Clementi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Barbara Manfredi
    • 1
  • Alberto E. Panerai
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of MilanoItaly
  2. 2.C.N.R. Centre of CytopharmacologyMilanoItaly
  3. 3.Department of Pharmacology, School of PharmaciUniversity of Reggio CalabriaCatanzaroItaly

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