Evaluation of β-Endorphin Secretion in Patients Suffering From Episodic Cluster Headache


Dr. R. Franceschini, Department of Internal Medicine, Viale Benedetto XV, n.6, 16143. Genoa, Italy.


In order to obtain data regarding peripheral levels of β-endorphin in head pain syndromes, we evaluated the plasma β-endorphin secretory pattern in 12 adult male patients suffering from cluster headache. Blood samples were drawn every 2 hours for a 24-hour period, and in addition at 30-minute intervals for 120 minutes during cluster attacks. The same sampling was repeated during an asymptomatic period. Cluster headache patients showed no significant β-endorphin circadian rhythm and a delayed acrophase during cluster periods compared with that recorded in the remission period and in normal subjects. Eighteen cluster headache attacks were recorded during the study day, 13 (72%) of which were followed by a significant increase in β-endorphin levels. No correlation was found between β-endorphin maximum net increase and intensity and/or duration of pain. These data suggest the hypothesis of a temporary alteration of β-endorphin circadian secretion, probably related to involvement of neural structures controlling biorhythm pacemakers.