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Carr Daniel B. MD; Ballantyne, Jane C. MB BS; Osgood, Patricia F. PhD; Kemp, James W. BS; Szyfelbein, Stanislaw K. MD
Anesthesia & Analgesia: August 1989

To examine whether an acute pituitary-adrenal response to stress may occur in vivo in the absence of hypothalarnic-pituitary connections, we measured plasma β-endorphin (β-EP) and corticosterone (C) in rats after acute thermal injury. β-EP rose significantly after thermal injury in normal rats and rats bearing pituitary-to-kidney autotrans-plants but not in animals with pituitary aspiration without reimplantntion. Corticosterone responses paralleled β-EP but were significant only in normal controls. Propranolol pretreatment did not reduce postburn β-EP and C rises in autotransplanted animals. Therefore, since circulating factors contribute in vivo to pituitary-adrenal responses, the widespread practice of using “stress hormone” responses to quantitate perioperative stress or pain may in some circumstances be flawed.

Address correspondence to Dr. Carr, Shriners Burns Institute, 51 Blossom Street, Boston MA 02114.

© 1989 International Anesthesia Research Society