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Endogenous opioid systems may be altered as a consequence of addiction, but evidence to support this idea is meager so far. We obtained 136 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from 72 opioid addicts during four distinct states: methadone maintenance, detoxification from methadone, opioid antagonist treatment, and drug-free status. CSF endorphins were measured in 86 patient samples using a radioreceptor assay (RRA), and β-endorphin levels were measured in 85 patient samples using a radioimmuno assay (RIA). During detoxification, both RRA fraction I and β-endorphin showed a generally similar pattern of changes. Both were lowest when measured 40–50 hr after the last opioid dose, and both showed an apparent rebound to higher than methadone maintenance values at 60–70 hr following the last dose. During methadone maintenance and drug-free states, the addicts' levels of fraction I RRA endorphins in the CSF were higher than levels found in a normal control group. Fraction II endorphins were also elevated in the addicts who were drug free. In contrast, CSF β-endorphin during both methadone maintenance and drug-free states was lower in the addicts as compared to the normal, drug-naive group. Except for the pattern found during detoxification, there were no consistent changes in endorphin levels across different states of addiction.
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Accepted: January 6, 1988
Received: October 1, 1987
☆Supported in part by NIDA Grant DA 01303 and by a grant from the VA Medical Research Service.
© 1988 Published by Elsevier Inc.