In vitro, central and peripheral proteolytic processing of β-endorphin by membrane-bound enzymes results in the formation of specific active fragments that have been recently shown to function in behavior, intestinal motility and in the central control of urinary bladder activity. A high resolution, reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography system capable of separating 28 β-endorphin related fragments simultaneously was used to study the time-course processing of β-endorphin by membrane associated peptidases in the brain and regions of the small intestine. The hypothesis we tested was that a homeostatic balance between α- and γ-type endorphins exists in these tissues. The results of the study show that the rate and quantity of fragments produced between the mucosa and nerve-muscle regions of the small intestine are significantly different. Metabolic rates, pattern, and the ratio of α/γ-type endorphins in the brain were very similar to the nerve-muscle region of the small intestine. This suggests that β-endorphin processing to active fragments is occurring at the nerves of the small intestine and that a specific and similar balance of α/γ-type endorphin exists in the brain and gastrointestinal system at neutral pH.
- High performance liquid chromatography
- Intestinal motility
- Membrane associated proteolytic processing
- Peptide processing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience