Plasma and CSF beta-endorphin (beta-EP), beta-lipotropin (beta-LPH) and ACTH levels were studied in a group of 25 patients who underwent reversible ischaemic attacks or completed strokes. CSF beta-EP and beta-LPH in ischaemic patients were higher than those of the control population, independently of both clinical reversibility of the cerebral damage, and the time lapse sampling and the acute event. The presence of a CT demonstrable lesion was related to the highest CSF beta-EP levels. These data confirm an involvement of central opioid substances in the phenomena related to brain ischaemia. ACTH levels in the CSF did not differ from the controls; this finding further supports the concept of an independent central secretion of the different pro-opiomelanocortin-related peptides. The peripheral plasma concentrations of beta-EP, beta-LPH and ACTH, were, in contrast, within the normal range, confirming that CSF and plasma contents of pro-opiomelanocortin-related peptides are differently controlled and originate from different sources.
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