Morphine Inhibits the Pituitary-Adrenal Response to Ovine Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone in Normal Subjects

Roger S. Rittmaster, Gordon B. Cutler, Douglas O. Sobel, David S. Goldstein, Michele C.S. Koppelman, D. Lynn Loriaux, George P. Chrousos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


To determine the locus of opiate modulation of ACTH secretion, 11 normal subjects were given ovine cortico-tropin-releasing hormone (CRH) 30 min after receiving either placebo or morphine sulfate. Plasma ACTH, cortisol, arginine vasopressin (AVP), epinephrine, norepinephrine, and CRH were measured 30 min before and up to 150 min after CRH administration. Morphine blunted the ACTH response for the first 60 min and cortisol response for the first 90 min after CRH administration. Morphine did not lower arginine vasopressin or cate-cholamine levels. To determine whether morphine’s effect on ACTH and cortisol was due to a direct action on the corticotrophcell, dispersed rat pituitary cells were perifused with medium containing 1 μg/ml morphine sulfate or medium alone. Morphine had no effect on the ACTH response of these cells to 10 nM CRH pulses. Similarly, morphine had no effect on ACTH production by dispersed rat pituitary cells in monolayer culture in response to 90- and 180-min incubations with 5 nM CRH. We conclude that morphine blunts the early response of the pituitary gland to CRH in vivo Based on the lack of a direct effect of morphine on rat pituitary cells in vitro, we postulate that morphine given in vivo may modulate the pituitary ACTH response to CRH through other suprapituitary factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-895
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


Dive into the research topics of 'Morphine Inhibits the Pituitary-Adrenal Response to Ovine Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone in Normal Subjects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this