The involvement of the beta-endorphin (B-EP) system during acute prolonged (tonic) pain was investigated by biochemical and behavioral approaches in freely-moving rats after subcutaneous injection of a small amount of a dilute formaldehyde solution (0.08 ml, 5\%) in a forepaw. Beta-endorphin-like immunoreactivity levels were increased over the respective control groups in rats killed 30, 60 and 120 min after injection in discrete regions of the rat brain, namely ventro-medial hypothalamus, ventro-basal thalamus and periaqueductal gray matter, and at 30 and 60 min in postero-medial thalamus. In a separate group of experiments a small amount of anti-B-EP or normal rabbit serum was injected in the lateral ventricle; 6 h later rats received formalin injection as in previous groups and their behavior was scored over the following 2 h. A significant hyperalgesia (as expressed by an increase in the amount of time rats spent licking or chewing the injected paw) was observed 10-50 min and 70-80 min after formalin in the anti-B-EP icv-injected group. Other behavioral parameters such as general motor activity, grooming and limb flexion were not different in the two groups, nor was animal behavior prior to formalin injection. Altogether these data suggest that the central beta-endorphin system is triggered by prolonged noxious stimulation in freely-moving animals, and in turn plays a physiological role in the modulation of the reaction to, or perception of, tonic pain.
Central beta-endorphin system involvement in the reaction to acute tonic pain / Porro, C. A.; Tassinari, G.; Facchinetti, Fabio; Panerai, A. E.; Carli, G.. - In: EXPERIMENTAL BRAIN RESEARCH. - ISSN 0014-4819. - STAMPA. - 83:(1991), pp. 549-554.