Dexamethasone alters plasma levels of beta-endorphin and postoperative pain

Kenneth M. Hargreaves, Elizabeth A. Schmidt, Gregory P. Mueller, Raymond A. Dionne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Secretion of pituitary immunoreactive β-endorphin is hypothesized to modulate the perception of pain. The present study examined this question by evaluating the effects of intravenous placebo or dexamethasone (0.1, 0.32, or 1.0 mg) on suppression of immunoreactive β-endorphin secretion and development of postoperative pain after the surgical removal of impacted third molars in 48 patients. Compared with placebo, all doses of dexamethasone suppressed the postoperative increase in circulating levels of immunoreactive β-endorphin. Patients administered 0.1 mg dexamethasone reported greater levels of pain, compared with those given placebo, from 60 through 120 minutes after surgery. Postoperative pain for the 0.32 and 1.0 mg doses did not differ from that for the placebo group. The increased pain after suppression of β-endorphin release by the low dose of dexamethasone suggests that pituitary secretion of immunoreactive β-endorphin alleviates postoperative pain under these conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-607
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Dexamethasone alters plasma levels of beta-endorphin and postoperative pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this