Mood and behavioral effects of physostigmine on humans are accompanied by elevations in plasma beta-endorphin and cortisol

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Science  26 Sep 1980:
Vol. 209, Issue 4464, pp. 1545-1546
DOI: 10.1126/science.7433977


Administration of physostigmine to normal volunteers produced significant elevations in plasma cortisol and beta-endorphin immunoreactivity as well as alterations in mood, cognition, and behavior. These observations might be explained by a cholinergically mediated stress syndrome. However, peak elevations in plasma beta-endorphin immunoreactivity (but not in plasma cortisol) were significantly correlated with physostigmine-induced increases in depression ratings. These results suggest that a cholinergically mediated beta-endorphin pathway may be involved in the observed affective changes.