Beta-endorphin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, cortisol and catecholamines during aerobic and anaerobic exercise

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1990;61(3-4):165-71. doi: 10.1007/BF00357593.


Twelve non-specifically trained volunteers (aged 26.5 years, SD 3.6) performed exhausting incremental graded exercise (ST) and 1-min anaerobic cycle ergometer exercise (AnT) at 2-h intervals for the purpose of investigating beta-endorphin (beta-E) behaviour dependent on exercise intensity and anaerobic metabolism. In order to determine [beta-E], adrenocorticotropic hormone [ACTH], cortisol [C], adrenaline [A] and noradrenaline [NA] concentrations, venous blood samples were collected prior and subsequent to exercise until the 20th min of the recovery period, as well as in ST before and after exceeding the individual anaerobic threshold (THan,i). Before, during and after ST, lactate concentration, heart rate and perceived degree of exertion were also determined; after AnT maximum lactate concentration was measured. Both types of exercise led to significant increases in [beta-E], [ACTH], [A] and [NA], with levels of [beta-E] and [ACTH] approximately twice as high after ST as after AnT. The [C] increased significantly only after ST. During ST significant changes in [beta-E] and [ACTH] were measured only after exceeding THan,i. At all measuring times before and after ST and AnT both hormones correlated positively. In AnT the increases of [beta-E] and [A] demonstrated a correlation (r = 0.65; P less than 0.05). Both in AnT and ST there was a relationship between the maximum concentrations of beta-E and lactate (r = 0.63 and 0.71; each P less than 0.05). We therefore conclude that physical exercise with increasing or mostly anaerobic components leads to an increase in [beta-E], the extent correlating with the degree of lactate concentration.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood*
  • Adult
  • Aerobiosis
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Catecholamines / blood*
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • beta-Endorphin / blood*


  • Catecholamines
  • beta-Endorphin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine