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Abstract

Beta-endorphin-related opiate peptides or the opiate antagonist naloxone were chronically infused for periods of 24 to 48 hours to the lateral cerebral ventricle of adult male rats using Alza osmotic minipumps. Previous studies have suggested a “chemotactic”-like effect of opiate peptides for supraependymal macrophages in the region of the third ventricle of the brain. The present study demonstrates a stimulatory effect of beta-endorphin infusion on the appearance of lymphocyte and neutrophil-like cells, in addition to macrophages, in the region of the third ventricle, suggestive of an intracerebral inflammatory response. None of the other molecules, including alphaendorphin, methionine-enkephalin, naloxone, or sterile saline produced similar cellular responses after infusion, although some of the latter substances may have induced the appearance of supraependymal neuron-like cells in the area. Observations suggest that the chronic presence of beta-endorphin, a biologically active opiate peptide, will interact with cells of the immune system, which have the ability to gain access to the cerebrospinal fluid.