Author(s): Lissoni P, Barni S, Paolorossi F, Crispino S, Rovelli F,
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Abstract Endogenous opioid peptides have been shown to be involved in the regulation of tumour growth. At present, however, no data are available about the secretion of opioid peptides in cancer patients. To draw some preliminary conclusions on opioid brain function in human neoplasms, we evaluated hypophyseal hormone responses to the administration of a met-enkephalin analogue, FK 33-824. The study included 14 patients affected by early or advanced neoplastic disease, 12 healthy subjects and 7 patients with a chronic medical illness other than cancer. FK 33-824 was given intravenously at a dose of 0.3 mg. Venous blood samples were collected at zero time, and 30, 60 and 120 min after drug administration. In each sample, PRL, GH, LH, cortisol and beta-endorphin levels were measured by RIA. In all normal subjects and in patients with non-neoplastic chronic illness, FK 33-824 induced a rise in PRL and GH levels, and a decrease in LH, cortisol and beta-endorphin. A normal endocrine response to FK 33-824 was seen in our cancer patient only, while in the other cases with tumour no hormonal changes or a paradoxical response were seen after FK 33-824. Based on the fact that an abnormal endocrine response to FK 33-824 has been described in hypothalamic-pituitary disorders, in which anomalous brain opioid activity has been demonstrated, these results suggest the existence of an altered function of the opioid system in cancer patients, the clinical importance of which remains to be determined.
This article was published in Br J Cancer
and referenced in Endocrinology & Metabolic Syndrome