The effects of central administration of morphine-sulfate (MOR:80 μg) and morphine-6-glucuronide (M6G:1 μg) on the growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system were assessed. MOR and M6G were injected intracerebroventricularly (ICV) in chronically catheterized 24 h fasted rats; time-matched control animals received H2O (5 μl). MOR increased plasma GH concentrations 3-fold 2 h after ICV injection, and transiently increased the plasma concentration and liver content of IGF-I (60% and 90%, respectively) 30 min after ICV injection. M6G did not produce any significant alterations in plasma GH and IGF-I levels at the time-points measured. Both MOR and M6G increased the concentration of IGF binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) in plasma and liver 2 h after injection. However, MOR showed 2- to 2.5-fold greater effect than M6G in stimulating plasma and liver IGFBP-1. MOR and M6G produced similar increases in plasma epinephrine (5-fold), norepinephrine (3-fold) and corticosterone (1.5-fold). Neither opiate significantly altered circulating insulin levels. These findings suggest that opiate modulation of GH and IGF may be hormone-independent and centrally modulated. We speculate that differential affinities of MOR and M6G to the different opiate receptor subtypes might be responsible for their distinct effects on GH/IGF-I system.
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