Key words: Beta-endorphin – Cerebrospinal fluid – Nucleus tractus solitarius – Sudden infant death
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract. In nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) beta-endorphin (BEND) induces bradycardia and respiratory depression which have been reported to precede death in sudden infant death (SID). Of SID victims, 50% have elevated levels of beta-endorphin immunoreactivity (BENDI) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and 50% had undetectable levels. We therefore investigated the relationship of BENDI in the CSF to BENDI levels in the NTS area. This study included SID victims (CSF from n=47, brain stem from n=16), borderline SID victims (CSF and brain stem from n=2), sudden death in childhood (CSF and brain stem from n=1), and controls (CSF from n=32, brain stem from n=11). BEND in CSF and NTS area, after extraction, was measured by radioimmunoassay. High performance liquid chromatography was used for closer identification of BENDI. We found that the SID victims divided into two subpopulations, one having a relatively high BENDI level in CSF and one having no detectable level (P〈0.01). Furthermore, an inverse relationship was found between BENDI level in CSF and BENDI level in NTS area in the SID victims (P〈0.05). We conclude that increased BENDI level in CSF is associated with low BENDI level in the NTS area in 50% of SID victims. The low BENDI level in the NTS area may be due to increased release of BEND.
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