ACTH and beta-endorphin responses to physical exercise in adolescent women tested for anxiety and frustration

Psychiatry Res. 1992 Feb;41(2):179-86. doi: 10.1016/0165-1781(92)90109-g.


Thirty healthy adolescent women (age: 14 years), high school students without clinical signs of psychiatric or major affective disorders, received psychological and endocrinological examinations. Two psychological tests were used: the Anxiety Score Test for Adolescents and the Pictures Frustration Test for Adolescents of Rosenzweig. On the basis of the results of these tests, subjects were divided into two groups: A (n = 21), normal subjects; B (n = 9), subjects with evidence of anxiety (n = 1), frustration (n = 1), or both (n = 7). Plasma levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and beta-endorphin were measured under basal conditions and after physical exercise (Step Test) in all subjects. Hormonal responses in groups A and B were compared. Basal concentrations of ACTH and cortisol were similar in the two groups, whereas basal beta-endorphin levels were significantly higher in group B than in group A. Exercise induced a slight but significant increase in plasma concentrations of both ACTH (32% increase) and beta-endorphin (60% increase) in group A. A striking increase in plasma ACTH (100% increment) and a slight increase of beta-endorphin (60% increment) levels were observed in group B after exercise. Absolute levels of ACTH and beta-endorphin after physical exercise were significantly higher in group B than in group A. These findings indicate increased levels of adrenocorticotropic and opioid activity in adolescent women with high scores on psychological measures of anxiety and frustration.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood*
  • Anxiety / blood*
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frustration*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Personality Inventory
  • Projective Techniques
  • beta-Endorphin / blood*


  • beta-Endorphin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone