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

Alcohol Alcohol. 2002 Mar-Apr;37(2):169-73. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/37.2.169.


- The effects of acute alcohol intoxication (AAI) on the pituitary-gonadal axis hormones, and the possible contribution of pituitary-adrenal axis hormones, beta-endorphin and prolactin to alcohol-induced dysfunction of pituitary-gonadal axis hormones were studied in adult men and women. Blood samples were drawn from adults of both sexes who arrived at the emergency department with evident behavioural symptoms of drunkenness (AAI) or from adult volunteers with nil consumption of alcohol (controls). Our results demonstrated that AAI produces a high increase in plasma prolactin, corticotropin (adrenocorticotropic hormone, ACTH), and cortisol in adults of both sexes, a decrease in luteinizing hormone levels only in men, an increase in dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEAS) and a contradictory behaviour of testosterone according to gender, with increased plasma testosterone in women and a decrease in men. ACTH and prolactin correlated positively with cortisol, DHEAS and testosterone in women, which suggests that prolactin and ACTH could contribute to stimulated adrenal androgen production. In contrast, the decrease in testosterone and increase in beta-endorphin in men suggests that AAI could have an inhibitory effect on testicular testosterone, perhaps mediated by beta-endorphin. Our results suggest that the effect of alcohol on pituitary-gonadal axis hormones in humans could depend on the gender and degree of sexual maturity of the individual.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Pituitary Hormones / blood
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / metabolism*
  • Prolactin / blood*
  • Sex Factors
  • beta-Endorphin / blood*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • beta-Endorphin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Prolactin
  • Hydrocortisone