Effect of ethanol ingestion on plasma vasopressin and water balance in humans

Am J Physiol. 1982 May;242(5):R522-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1982.242.5.R522.


The effects of 75 ml ethanol ingested over 60 min on plasma osmolality (Posmol) and plasma vasopressin (PAVP) in four normal subjects were studied. In the 1st h of the investigation PAVP fell, then rose, even though plasma ethanol levels were still rising. The rise in PAVP was preceded by a rise in Posmol corrected for the influence of ethanol. The fall in PAVP was followed by an increase in free water clearance and a decrease in urine osmolality, while the later rise in PAVP was followed by a decrease in free water clearance (CH2O) and a rise in urine osmolality. The relationship between PAVP and Posmol was then studied during intravenous (iv) hypertonic saline infusion in five subjects. The results were compared with those from a second infusion in the same subjects after ingestion of ethanol (0.5 ml/kg). Ethanol reduced vasopressin release in response to iv hypertonic saline infusion, and this correlated with a reduced decrease in CH2O. We conclude that ethanol inhibits PAVP release by decreasing the response of the osmosodium receptors to changes in plasma tonicity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Parenteral
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic / administration & dosage
  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic / pharmacology
  • Urine
  • Vasopressins / blood*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance / drug effects*


  • Saline Solution, Hypertonic
  • Vasopressins
  • Ethanol