Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

β-Adrenoceptor activation mediates stress-induced secretion of β-endorphin-related peptides from intermediate but not anterior pituitary


Recently, we reported that adrenaline can stimulate the secretion of immunoreactive β-endorphin in the rat1. This response is mediated by β-adrenoceptors and requires circulating adrenaline concentrations which are known to occur during stress1–3. We therefore studied whether catecholamines are implicated in the stress-induced secretion of immunoreactive β-endorphin from the pituitary gland. We report here that in rat the β-adrenoceptor antagonist (−)propranolol reduces or abolishes the rapid increase of immunoreactive β-endorphin levels during some stress stimuli (footshock, passive avoidance, restraint) but not during others (ether, formalin, laparotomy). The propranolol-sensitive response is largely prevented by extirpation of the neurointermediate lobe of the pituitary gland but is unaffected by dexamethasone, which inhibits peptide secretion from the corticotroph cells of the anterior lobe. These results suggest that catecholamines activate the release of immunoreactive β-endorphin from the intermediate lobe but not from the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland during certain stress conditions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Berkenbosch, F., Vermes, I. & Tilders, F. J. H. Eur. J. Pharmac. 72, 97–100 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Kvetnansky, R. et al. Endocrinology 103, 1868–1874 (1978).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Tilders, F. J. H., Berkenbosch, F. & Smelik, P. G. Endocrinology 110, 114–120 (1982).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Guillemin, R. et al. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 297, 131–156 (1977).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Smyth, D. G. & Zakarian, S. Nature 288, 613–615 (1980).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Mains, E. M. & Eipper, B. A. J. biol. Chem. 256, 5683–5688 (1981).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Eipper, B. A. & Mains, R. J. biol. Chem. 256, 5689–5695 (1981).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Rossier, J. et al. Nature 270, 618–620 (1977).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Guillemin, R. et al. Science 197, 1367–1369 (1977).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Höllt, V., Przewlocki, R. & Hertz, A. Naunyn-Schiedebergs Archs Pharmak. 303, 171–174 (1978).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Ratcliffe, J. G. & Edwards, C. R. W. in Radioimmunoassay Methods (eds Kirkham, K. E. & Hunter, W. M.) 502–512 (Churchill-Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1971).

    Google Scholar 

  12. Berkenbosch, F., Vermes, I., Binnekade, R. & Tilders, F. J. H. Life Sci. 29, 2249–2256 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Liotta, A. S., Suda, T. & Krieger, D. T. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 75, 2950–2954 (1978).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Millan, M. J. et al. Brain Res. 208, 325–338 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Mueller, G. P. Life Sci. 29, 1669–1674 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Barrett, A. M. & Cullum, V. A. Br. J. Pharmac. 34, 43–55 (1968).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Vermes, I., Berkenbosch, F., Tilders, F. J. H. & Smelik, P. G. Neurosci. Lett. 27, 89–93 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Tilders, F. J. H., Post, M., Jackson, S., Lowry, P. J. & Smelik, P. G. Acta Endocr. 97, 343–351 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Cote, T., Munemura, M., Eskay, R. L. & Kebabian, J. W. Endocrinology 107, 108–115 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Berkenbosch, F. Endocrinology (submitted).

  21. Przewlocki, R., Millan, M. J., Gramsch, G. H., Millan, M. H. & Herz, A. Brain Res. 242, 107–117 (1982).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Glick, D., von Redlich, D. & Levine, S. Endocrinology 74, 653–657 (1964).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Penny, R. J. & Thody, A. J. Neuroendocrinology 25, 193–203 (1978).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Berkenbosch, F., Tilders, F. & Vermes, I. β-Adrenoceptor activation mediates stress-induced secretion of β-endorphin-related peptides from intermediate but not anterior pituitary. Nature 305, 237–239 (1983).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing