Effects of acute alcohol intoxication on pituitary-gonadal axis hormones, pituitary-adrenal axis hormones, beta-endorphin and prolactin in human adolescents of both sexes

Life Sci. 2000;67(9):1081-6. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(00)00702-5.


Teenage drinking continues to be a major problem in industrialized countries, where almost 35% of alcohol drinkers are under 16 years old. In the present paper we studied the effects of acute alcohol intoxication (AAI) on the pituitary-gonadal (PG) axis hormones, and the possible contribution of pituitary-adrenal (PA) axis hormones, beta-endorphin (BEND), and prolactin (PRL) to the alcohol-induced dysfunction of PG axis hormones. Blood samples were drawn from adolescents that arrived at the emergency department with evident behavioral symptoms of drunkenness (AAI) or with nil consumption of alcohol (controls [C]). Our results demonstrated that AAI produces in adolescents a high increase in plasma PRL, ACTH, and cortisol (F), and a contradictory behavior of testosterone (T) according to gender: plasma T was increased in females and decreased in males. ACTH and PRL correlated positively with F, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEAS) and T in females, which suggests that PRL and ACTH could synergistically stimulate adrenal androgen production. In contrast, the decrease in T and increase in BEND in males suggests that AAI could have an inhibitory effect on testicular T, perhaps mediated by BEND. The hormones studied are involved in the development of secondary sexual characteristics and the growth axis during adolescence. The deleterious effects of alcohol abuse should be made known to adolescents and the appropriate authorities.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / blood*
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / blood*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Ethanol / poisoning*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Gonadotropins, Pituitary / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Ovary / drug effects
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / drug effects
  • Prolactin / blood*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Testis / drug effects
  • Testosterone / blood
  • beta-Endorphin / blood*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Gonadotropins, Pituitary
  • Ethanol
  • Testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • beta-Endorphin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone