Physiological elevations of plasma β-endorphin alter glucose metabolism in obese, but not normal-weight, subjects

Dario Giugliano, Domenico Cozzolino, Teresa Salvatore, Antonio Ceriello, Roberto Torella, Paul Franchimont, Pierre J. Lefebvre, Felice D'Onofrio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study was undertaken to evaluate the metabolic and hormonal responses to physiologic elevations of plasma β-endorphin concentrations in both normal-weight and obese healthy subjects. The infusion of synthetic human β-endorphin (4.5 ng/kg/min) produced the following: (1) in normal-weight subjects, no significant change of plasma glucose and pancreatic hormones (insulin, C-peptide, and glucagon), a significant plasma free fatty acids (FFA) increase, and a suppression of glycerol plasma levels; (2) in obese subjects, significant increases of glucose, insulin, C-peptide, and glucagon, a progressive decline of circulating FFA, and no change in glycerol plasma levels. In obese subjects, the intravenous administration of naloxone, given as a bolus (5 mg injected in 5 minutes) before the start of β-endorphin infusion, reduced the plasma glucose response to the opioid by approximately half, annulled the pancreatic hormonal responses, and also reduced the FFA, but not glycerol, response. In normal-weight subjects, naloxone pretreatment did not induce any change of the flat glucose and hormonal responses to β-endorphin, but reversed its effects on circulating FFA and glycerol. These data suggest that physiological elevations of plasma β-endorphin concentrations produce metabolic and hormonal effects in obese subjects significantly different from those occurring in normal-weight subjects; these effects are partially naloxone-sensitive, suggesting the mediation of endogenous opioid receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-190
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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