Ethanol reduces vasopressin release by inhibiting calcium currents in nerve terminals

Brain Res. 1991 Jun 14;551(1-2):338-41. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(91)90954-t.


Ingestion of ethanol (EtOH) is known to result in a reduction of plasma arginine-vasopressin (AVP) levels in mammals. We examined the basis for this effect using a combination of biochemical and electrophysiological techniques. Release of AVP from nerve terminals isolated from the rat neurohypophysis was very sensitive to EtOH, with significant reductions in AVP release evident in 10 mM EtOH. However, EtOH did not affect the release of AVP from terminals which had been permeabilized with digitonin, suggesting that voltage-gated calcium channels might be the target of EtOH's actions. Patch clamping of these terminals indicated that both inactivating and long-lasting calcium currents were reduced in EtOH, but the long-lasting currents were more sensitive (significant reductions in 10 mM EtOH). EtOH-induced decreases in plasma AVP levels can be explained by EtOH's inhibition of calcium currents in the nerve terminals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine Vasopressin / metabolism*
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Nerve Endings / metabolism
  • Nerve Endings / physiology*
  • Pituitary Gland, Posterior / metabolism
  • Pituitary Gland, Posterior / physiology
  • Rats


  • Arginine Vasopressin
  • Ethanol
  • Calcium