Beta-endorphin in the brainstem, pituitary, and spinal fluid of infants at autopsy: relation to sudden infant death syndrome

Forensic Science International : Synergy
N Hollander

Abstract

Immunohistochemical localization of beta-endorphin was studied in the pituitaries and medullas of forty human infants at autopsy. beta-Endorphin immunoreactivity was found in anterior pituitary cells in all cases. In the medulla, beta-endorphin immunoreactivity was found in the neurons of the medial and lateral cuneate nuclei in ten out of the forty cases. In eight of these ten cases, the infants died of causes other than sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Only two of 25 SIDS cases had demonstrable beta-endorphin in the brainstem nuclei. Beta-endorphin levels in the spinal fluids of all the cases showed no correlation to cause of death, age or gender.

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