To examine interactions between exogenous opioid analgesia and endogenous opioid generation at a site of burn-induced tissue injury, we measured β-endorphin (BE) and corticosterone (C) in aliquots of plasma and wound fluid withdrawn from subcutaneous wire mesh chambers beneath the site of a 3-5% surface area burn. After brief inhalational anesthesia at the time of thermal injury, rats received morphine (4 mg/kg, single dose), fentanyl (0.02 mg/kg hourly for 4 h), or no opioid. Systemic hormone responses and behavioral changes were minimal as expected for the minimal percentage burn. In all three groups intrachamber BE and C rose above baseline at 1, 2 and 4 h postburn, then returned to baseline at 24 h. Systemic opioid treatment produced analgesia (by tail flick latency testing) but did not reduce intrachamber hormone responses. Thus local BE and C responses at the site of thermal injury are regulated differently from systemic pituitary-adrenal responses.
- Stress response
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