Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

β-Endorphin Response to Exercise

An Update

Summary

β-Endorphin, a 31-amino-acid peptide, is primarily synthesised in the anterior pituitary gland and cleaved from pro-opiomelanocortin, its larger precursor molecule. β-Endorphin can be released into the circulation from the pituitary gland or can project into areas of the brain through nerve fibres. Exercise of sufficient intensity and duration has been demonstrated to increase circulating β-endorphin levels. Previous reviews have presented the background of opioids and exercise and discussed the changes in β-endorphin levels in response to aerobic and anaerobic exercise. The present review is to update the response of β-endorphin to exercise. This review suggests that exercise-induced β-endorphin alterations are related to type of exercise and special populations tested, and may differ in individuals with health problems. Additionally, some of the possible mechanisms which may induce β-endorphin changes in the circulation include analgesia, lactate or base excess, and metabolic factors. Based on the type of exercise, different mechanisms may be involved in the regulation of β-endorphin release during exercise.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. 1.

    De Meirleir K, Naaktgeboren N, Van Steiteghem A, et al. Beta-endorphin and ACTH levels in peripheral blood during after aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 1986; 55: 5–8

  2. 2.

    Goldfarb AH, Hatfield BD, Armstrong D, et al. Plasma beta-en-dorphin concentration: response to intensity and duration of exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1990; 22: 241–4

  3. 3.

    Goldfarb AH, Hatfield BD, Potts J, et al. Beta-endorphin time course response to intensity of exercise: effect of training status. Int J Sports Med 1991; 12(3): 264–8

  4. 4.

    McMurray RG, Forsythe WA, Mar MH, et al. Exercise intensity-related responses of β-endorphin and cathecholamines. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1987; 19: 570–4

  5. 5.

    Rahkila P, Hakala E, Alen M, et al. B-endorphin and corticotropin release is dependent on a threshold intensity of running exercise in male endurance athletes. Life Sci 1988; 43: 551–8

  6. 6.

    Gabriel H, Schwarz L, Steffen G, et al. Immunoregulatory hormones, circulating leucocyte and lymphocyte subpopulations before and after endurance exercise of different intensities. Int J Sports Med 1992; 13(5): 359–66

  7. 7.

    Heitkamp H-Ch, Schmid K, Scheib K. Beta-endorphin and adrenocorticotrophic hormone production during marathon and incremental exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 1996; 66(3): 269–74

  8. 8.

    Viru A, Tendzegolskis Z. Plasma endorphin species during dynamic exercise in humans. Clin Physiol 1995; 15(1): 73–9

  9. 9.

    Vissing J, Iwamoto GA, Fuchs IE, et al. Reflex control of glucoregulatory exercise responses by group III and IV muscle afferents. Am J Physiol 1994; 266(3): R824–30

  10. 10.

    Kraemer WJ, Fleck SJ, Callister R, et al. Training responses of plasma beta-endorphin, adrenocorticotropin, and cortisol. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1989; 21: 146–53

  11. 11.

    Kraemer WJ, Dziados JE, Marchitelli LJ, et al. Effect of different heavy-resistance exercise protocols on plasma beta-endorphin concentrations. J Appl Physiol 1993; 74(1): 450–9

  12. 12.

    Kraemer WJ, Fry AC, Warren BJ, et al. Acute hormonal responses in elite junior weighlifters. Int J Sports Med 1992; 13(2): 103–9

  13. 13.

    Pierce EF, Eastman NW, McGowen RW, et al. Resistance exercise decreases beta-endorphin immunoreactivity. Br J Sports Med 1994; 28(3): 164–6

  14. 14.

    Pierce EF, Eastman NW, Tripathi HL, et al. Plasma B-endorphinimmunoreactivity: response to resistance exercise. J Sports Sei 1993; 11: 499–502

  15. 15.

    Walberg-Rankin J, Franke WD, Gwazdauskas FC. Response of beta-endorphin and estradiol to resistance exercise in females during energy balance and energy restriction. Int J Sports Med 1992; 13(7): 542–7

  16. 16.

    Schwarz L, Kindermann W. Changes in B-endorphin levels in response to aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Sports Med 1992; 13(1): 25–36

  17. 17.

    Engfred K, Kjaer M, Secher NH, et al. Hypoxia and training-induced adaptation of hormonal responses to exercise in humans. Eur J Appl Physiol 1994; 68(4): 303–9

  18. 18.

    Rahkila P, Laatikainen T. Effect of oral contraceptives on plasma beta-endorphin and corticotropin at rest and during exercise. Gynecol Endocrinol 1992; 6(3): 163–6

  19. 19.

    Pierce EF, Eastman NW, Tripathi HL, et al. Beta-endorphin response to endurance exercise: relationship to exercise dependence. Percept Mot Skills 1993; 77 (3 Pt 1): 767–70

  20. 20.

    Goldfarb AH, Hatfield BD, Sforzo GA, et al. Serum β-endorphin levels during a graded exercise test to exhaustion. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1987; 19(2): 78–82

  21. 21.

    Howlett TA, Tomlin S, Ngahfoong L, et al. Release of β-endorphin and met-enkephalin during exercise in women: response to training. BMJ 1984; 288: 1950–2

  22. 22.

    Lobstein DB, Ismail AH. Decreases in resting plasma beta-en-dorphin/lipotropin after endurance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1989; 19: 161–6

  23. 23.

    Walker EM, Bazzarre TL. Relationship of fasting plasma insulin and β-endorphin levels to weight loss and mealfeeding in normal and overweight females before and after a 12 week exercise program. Exerc Physiol 1986; 2: 11–23

  24. 24.

    Carr DB, Bullen BA, Skrinner GS, et al. Physical conditioning facilitates the exercise-induced secretion of β-endorphin and β-lipotropin in women. N Engl J Med 1981; 305: 560–3

  25. 25.

    Farrell PA, Kjaer M, Bach FW, et al. Beta-endorphin and adrenocorticotropin response to supramaximal treadmill exercise in trained and untrained males. Acta Physiol Scand 1987; 130: 619–25

  26. 26.

    Metzger JM, Stein EA. Beta-endorphin and sprint training. Life Sci 1984; 34: 1541–7

  27. 27.

    Lobstein DD, Rasmussen CL. Decreases in resting plasma betaendorphin and depression scores after endurance training. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 1991; 31(4): 543–5

  28. 28.

    Moughin C, Henriet MT, Baulay A, et al. Plasma levels of beta-endorphin, prolactin and gonadotropins in male athletes after an international Nordic ski race. Eur J Appl Physiol 1988; 57: 425–9

  29. 29.

    Perhonen M, Takala T, Huttunen P, et al. Stress hormones after prolonged physical training in normo- and hypobaric conditions in rats. Int J Sports Med 1995; 16(2): 73–7

  30. 30.

    Hikita H, Kurita A, Takase B, et al. Usefulness of plasma beta-endorphin level, pain threshold and autonomie function in assessing silent myocardial ischemia in patients with and without diabetes mellitus. Am J Cardiol 1993; 72(2): 140–3

  31. 31.

    Wanke T, Auinger M, Formanek D, et al. Defective endogenousopioid response to exercise in type I diabetic patients. Metabolism 1996; 45(2): 137–42

  32. 32.

    Foreman LJ, Estilow S, Lewis M, et al. Streptozocin diabetesalters immunoreactive β-endorphin levels and pain perception after 8 weeks in female rats. Diabetes 1986; 35: 1309–13

  33. 33.

    Foreman LJ, Estilow S, Mead J, et al. Eight weeks of streptozocin-induced diabetes influences the effects of cold stress on immunoreactive beta-endorphin levels in female rats. Horm Metab Res 1988; 10: 555–8

  34. 34.

    Timmers K, Vogels NR, Zalenshi C, et al. Altered β-endorphin, met- and leu-enkephalins, and enkephalin-containing peptides in pancreas and pituitary of genetically obese diabetic (db/db) mice during development of diabetic syndrome. Diabetes 1986; 35: 1143–51

  35. 35.

    Morley GK, Mooradian AD, Levine AS, et al. Mechanism of pain in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Am J Med 1984; 77: 79–82

  36. 36.

    Solerte SB, Fioravanti M, Petraglia F, et al. Plasma β-endorphin, free fatty acids and blood lipid changes in type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetic patients. J Endocrinol Invest 1988; 11: 417–28

  37. 37.

    Letizia C, Barilla F, Cerci S, et al. Beta-endorphin and pro-opiomelanocortin correlates peptides response in suspected and confirmed ischemie heart disease during exercise. Acta Cardiol 1996; 51(1): 27–36

  38. 38.

    Oldroyd KG, Gray CE, Carter R, et al. Activation and inhibition of the endogenous opioid system in human heart failure. Br Heart J 1995; 73(1): 41–8

  39. 39.

    Perna GP, Modini S, Valle G, et al. Plasma levels of basal beta-endorphin and after effort in patients with severe left ventricular dysfunction and heart failure. J Ital Cardiol 1994; 24(9): 1077–85

  40. 40.

    Wallbridge DR, Maclntyre HE, Gray CE, et al. Increase in plasma beta-endorphin precedes vasodepressor syncope. Br Heart J 1994; 71(6): 597–9

  41. 41.

    Karpov RS, Mordovin VF, Fedorov AI, et al. Diagnostic usefulness of ECG changes in response to exercise in women with various forms of ischemic disease. Kardiologiia 1991; 31(9): 21–5

  42. 42.

    Huang L, Zhu S. The role of beta-endorphin and pain perception in silent myocardial ischemia. Chung Hua Hsin Hsueh Kuan Ping Tsa Chih 1991; 19(1): 3–6

  43. 43.

    Kurita A, Takase B, Uehata A, et al. Difference in plasma beta-endorphin and bradykinin levels between patients with painless or with painful myocardial ischemia. Am Heart J 1992; 23(2): 304–9

  44. 44.

    Marchant B, Umachandran V, Wilkinson P, et al. Reexamination of the role of endogenous opiates in silent myocardial ischemia. J Am Coll Cardiol 1994; 23(3): 645–51

  45. 45.

    Miller PF, Light KC, Bragdon EE, et al. Beta-endorphin response to exercise and mental stress in ischemie heart disease. J Psychosom Res 1993; 37(5): 455–65

  46. 46.

    Sena AC, Maixner W, Ballenger MN, et al. The relationship between plasma beta-endorphin, opioid receptor activity, and silent myocardial ischemia. Clin J Pain 1992; 8(4): 307–16

  47. 47.

    Solomon P, Mazurek W. Levels of β-endorphin in patients with silent myocardial ischemia. Pol Arch Med Wewn 1994; 91(6): 446–50

  48. 48.

    Wu L. Assessment of plasma catecholamine and beta-endorphin contents in patients with silent myocardial ischemia and angina pectoris. Chung Hua Hsin Hsueh Kuan Ping Tsa Chih 1992; 20(2): 90–2

  49. 49.

    Light KC, Herbet MC, Bragdon EE, et al. Depression and type A behavior pattern in patients with coronary artery disease: relationship to painful versus silent myocardial ischemia and beta-endorphin responses during exercise. Psychosom Med 1991; 53(6): 669–83

  50. 50.

    Giugliano D, Torella R, Lefebvre PJ, et al. Opioid peptides and metabolic regulation. Diabetologia 1988; 31: 3–15

  51. 51.

    Taylor DV, Boyajian JG, James N, et al. Acidosis stimulates beta-endorphin release during exercise. J Appl Physiol 1994; 77(4): 1913–8

  52. 52.

    Stein C. Opioid analgesia at peripheral sites. In: Almedia OFX, Shippenberg TS, editors. Neurobiology of opioids. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1991: 273–85

  53. 53.

    Brooks S, Burrin J, Cheetham ME, et al. The responses of the catecholamines and beta-endorphin to brief maximal exercise in man. Eur J Appl Physiol 1988; 57: 220–34

  54. 54.

    Dearman J, Francis KT. Plasma levels of catecholamines, cortisol and beta-endorphin in male athletes after running 26.2, 6, and 2 miles. J Sports Med 1983; 23: 30–8

  55. 55.

    Angelopoulos TJ, Denys BG, Weikart C, et al. Endogenous opioids may modulate catecholamine secretion during high intensity exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 1995; 70: 195–9

  56. 56.

    Fatouros IG, Goldfarb AH, Jamurtas AZ. Low carbohydratediet induces changes in central and peripheral beta-endorphins. Nutr Res 1995; 15(11): 1683–94

  57. 57.

    Bruni J, Watkins W, Yen S. β-Endorphin in the human pancreas. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1979; 49: 649–51

  58. 58.

    Krieger D. Brain peptides: what, where and why? Science 1983; 222: 975–85

  59. 59.

    Angelopoulos TJ, Robertson RJ, Goss FL, et al. Insulin and glucagon immunoreactivity during high-intensity exercise under opiate blockade. Eur J Appl Physiol 1997; 75: 132–5

  60. 60.

    Farrell PA, Ebert TJ, Kampine JP. Naloxone augments muscle sympathetic nerve activity during isometric exercise in humans. Am J Physiol 1991; 242: E317–E22

  61. 61.

    Farrell PA, Gustafson AB, Garthwaite TL, et al. Influence of endogenous opioids on the response of selected hormones to exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol 1986; 61: 1051–7

  62. 62.

    Hickey MS, Trappe SW, Biostein AC, et al. Opioid antagonismalters blood glucose homeostasis during exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol 1994; 76: 2452–60

  63. 63.

    Imai N, Stone CK, Woolf PD, et al. Effects of naloxone on systemic and regional hemodynamic responses to exercise in dogs. J Appl Physiol 1988; 64: 1493–8

  64. 64.

    Staessen J, Fiocchi R, Bouillon R, et al. Effects of opioid antagonism on the hemodynamic and hormonal responses to exercise. Clin Sci 1988; 75: 293–300

  65. 65.

    Bramnert M, Hokfelt B. Lack of effect of naloxone in a moderate dose on the exercise-induced increase in blood pressure, heart rate, plasma catecholamines, plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone in healthy males. Clin Sci 1985; 68: 185–91

  66. 66.

    Farrell PA, Sonne B, Milines KJ, et al. Stimulatory role of endogenous opioids on postexercise insulin secretion in rats. J Appl Physiol 1988; 65: 744–9

  67. 67.

    McMurray RG, Newbould E, Bouloux P, et al. High-dose naloxone modifies cardiovascular and neuroendocrine function in ambulant subjects. Psychoneuroendocrinology 1991: 16: 447–55

  68. 68.

    Viveros OH, Diliberto EJ, Hazum E, et al. Opiate-like material in the adrenal medulla: evidence for storage and secretion with catecholamines. Mol Pharmacol 1979: 16: 1101–8

  69. 69.

    Feldman M, Kiser R, Unger R, et al. Beta-endorphin and the endocrine pancreas: studies in healthy and diabetic human beings. N Engl J Med 1983; 308: 349–53

  70. 70.

    Ipp E, Dobbs RE, Unger RH. Morphine and B-endorphin influence the secretion of the endocrine pancreas. Nature 1978; 276: 190–1

  71. 71.

    Reid R, Sandier J, Yen S. β-Endorphin stimulates the secretion of insulin and glucagon in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1981; 52: 592–4

  72. 72.

    Fatouros IG, Goldfarb AH, Jamurtas AZ, et al. Beta-endorphin infusion effects on glucose and hormonal homeostasis during exercise [abstract]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996; 28(5): S76

  73. 73.

    Corio V, Volpi R, Maffei ML, et al. Opioid modulation of the gamma-aminobutyric acid-controlled inhibition of exercise-stimulated growth hormone and prolactin secretion in normal men. Eur J Endocrinol 1994; 131: 50–5

  74. 74.

    Vettor R, Pagano C, Fabris R, et al. Lipolytic effect of beta-endorphin in human fat cells. Life Sci 1993: 52: 657–61

  75. 75.

    Sforzo GA. Opioids and exercise: an update. Sports Med 1988; 7(2): 109–24

  76. 76.

    Richter WO, Naude RJ, Oelofsen W, et al. In vitro lipolytic activity of beta-endorphin and its partial sequences. Endocrinology 1987; 120: 1472–6

  77. 77.

    Vettor R, Manno M, De Carlo E, et al. Evidence for an involvement of opioid peptides in exercise-induced lipolysis in rats. Horm Metab Res 1987; 19: 282–3

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Dr Allan H. Goldfarb.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Goldfarb, A.H., Jamurtas, A.Z. β-Endorphin Response to Exercise. Sports Med 24, 8–16 (1997). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-199724010-00002

Download citation

Keywords

  • Naloxone
  • Opioid Receptor
  • Resistance Exercise
  • Naltrexone
  • Incremental Exercise