Concentrations of endogenous opioid peptides in the plasma are increased during exercise and these substances have been implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma induced by chloropropramide and alcohol in diabetic patients. This work was undertaken to determine whether exercise induced asthma might be mediated by endogenous opioids. Plasma beta endorphin, met-enkephalin, and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) concentrations were measured in five asthmatic patients and five normal volunteers breathing cold air during exercise. In four of the patients the effect of an infusion of naloxone on FEV1 was also measured during exercise induced asthma. Exercise produced acute bronchoconstriction in all asthmatics, characterised by a fall in FEV1; whereas no change occurred in normal subjects. There was no difference in plasma met-enkephalin, beta endorphin, and ACTH concentration between the two groups. Infusion of naloxone neither prevented nor worsened exercise induced asthma. These data suggest that endogenous opioids probably do not play a part in the development of exercise induced asthma.
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