Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Increased central immunoreactive beta-endorphin content in patients with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and in alcoholics.
  1. J A Summers,
  2. P T Pullan,
  3. J J Kril,
  4. C G Harper
  1. Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Shenton Park, Western Australia.


    beta-endorphin, adrenocorticotrophin, and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone were measured by radioimmunoassay in three areas of human brain at necropsy in seven subjects with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and in 52 controls. Thiamin concentration in six brain areas was also measured. Mamillary body beta-endorphin concentrations were significantly increased in those with the syndrome compared with controls, and those controls with high alcohol intake showed increased mamillary body beta-endorphin compared with controls with low alcohol intake. Brain thiamin concentration was similar in both groups, with the exception of the brainstem, where it was reduced in subjects with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Thalamic beta-endorphin in controls was inversely correlated with thiamin in frontal white matter, frontal cortex, parietal white matter and parietal cortex, while beta-endorphin in the hypothalamus of patients was inversely correlated with thiamin in frontal cortex, parietal white matter, thalamus and brainstem. These results suggest that there is a disturbance of the endorphinergic system in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome which may be related to alcohol intake.

    Statistics from

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.