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Metabolic, respiratory, vasomotor and body temperature responses to beta-endorphin and morphine in rabbits.

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1. The effects of beta-endorphin and morphine on thermoregulatory responses of unanaesthetized rabbits to different ambient temperatures (Ta) of 2, 22 and 32 degrees C were assessed. 2. Intraventricular administration of either beta-endorphin or morphine produced dose-dependent hypothermia at 2 and 22 degrees C Ta. At 2 degrees C Ta the hypothermia was brought about solely by a decrease in metabolic heat production. At 22 degrees C Ta the hypothermia was due to a decrease in metabolism and an increase in peripheral blood flow. However, at 32 degrees C Ta, there were no changes in rectal temperature in response to either beta-endorphin or morphine application. 3. Hypothermic effects of the administration of beta-endorphin or morphine were greatly antagonized by pretreatment of animals with either an opiate antagonist naloxone or a serotonin depletor 5,6-dihydroxytryptamine. 4. These findings indicate that the hypothermic responses to beta-endorphin or morphine in rabbits may be mediated through central serotonergic mechanisms. The hypothermia was due to a decrease in heat production and/or an increase in heat loss.


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