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Opioid involvement in the perception of pain due to endurance exercise in trained man

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  • P E Paulev
  • J E Thorbøll
  • U Nielsen
  • P Kruse
  • R Jordal
  • F W Bach
  • M Fenger
  • M Pokorski
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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of endogenous opiates in modulating physical performance during dynamic exercise in conscious man. The plasma concentration of beta-endorphin (BEP) and of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) along with muscle pain (McGuill Pain Questionnaire) were assessed in 17 trained, male runners before and after running the longest possible distance within 12 min (i.e., the Cooper test). Each runner participated twice in the test (double-blind cross-over design), with a 1-week interval--with or without an injection of the opiate antagonist naloxone (0.8 mg i.v.). The average (SEM) distance reached was 3,198 (45) m in the naloxone test and 3,240 (38) m in the placebo test. The BEP increased significantly during the tests by a factor of 4.1 on naloxone and by 2.8 on placebo (from the normal resting averages of 1.7 and 2.1 pmol/l, respectively). The ACTH also increased significantly by a factor of 2.0 on naloxone and 2.5 on placebo (from the normal resting averages of 19.3 and 16.8 pmol/l, respectively). There were no significant differences between the naloxone and the placebo test with respect to the increments of BEP or ACTH by exercise. However, the perception of muscle pain was enhanced with naloxone. The increased perception of pain did not decrease the athletes ability to perform in terms of the distance run. We conclude that endogenous opiates are involved in the perception of pain associated with exhaustive exercise and may subserve psychological rather than physiological functions during exercise.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Japanese journal of physiology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1989

    Research areas

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, Adult, Exercise, Humans, Male, Pain, Perception, Physical Endurance, beta-Endorphin

ID: 32503103