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In the present study the effects of intravenously administered corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) on the release of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) derivatives such as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), beta-lipotropin (beta-LPH) and beta-endorphin (beta-END) as well as direct effects of CRH on pain sensitivity were examined. In 16 healthy volunteers we studied the effects of 100 microg intravenously administered CRH in absence or presence of 12 mg naloxone on heat or pressure pain sensitivity, using a double-blind, cross-over and placebo-controlled design. To evaluate analgesic effects of CRH via release of POMC derivatives, we determined plasma concentrations of beta-END-immunoreactive material (IRM), authentic beta-END (beta-END(1-31)) and beta-LPH IRM, in parallel with heat and pressure pain tolerance thresholds before and 15 and 30 min after treatment with CRH (or placebo), and 5 min after naloxone (or placebo) administration which was administered 40 min after CRH (or placebo) injection. CRH increased levels of beta-END IRM, beta-END(1-31) and beta-LPH IRM. As compared to beta-END IRM levels measured by a commercial RIA kit, the beta-END(1-31) levels determined by a highly specific two-site RIA, proved to be remarkably small. Furthermore, CRH did not induce increases of heat pain tolerance thresholds, but of pressure pain tolerance thresholds, which, however, were not reversible by naloxone. Neither beta-END nor beta-LPH IRM nor beta-END(1-31) levels correlated with heat or pressure pain tolerance thresholds. We conclude that CRH does not modulate heat, but pressure pain; POMC derivatives like beta-END IRM, beta-END(1-31) or beta-LPH do not mediate this effect.


Reginald Matejec, Holger Uhlich, Christina Hotz, Jörg Mühling, Heinz-W Harbach, Rolf-H Bödeker, Gunter Hempelmann, Hansjörg Teschemacher. Corticotropin-releasing hormone reduces pressure pain sensitivity in humans without involvement of beta-endorphin(1-31), but does not reduce heat pain sensitivity. Neuroendocrinology. 2005;82(3-4):185-97

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PMID: 16534240

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