Endogenous opioids may mediate ethanol's effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-LH axis

T. J. Cicero, E. R. Meyer, C. E. Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There has been a good deal of speculation regarding the possibility that endogenous opioids participate in the effects of ethanol on the central nervous system. Thus far, however, this relationship has been very difficult to establish. Ideally, an appropriate model to employ to examine the interaction between the CNS actions of ethanol and endogenous opioid-containing neuronal elements would satisfy two criteria: first, that a role for opioid peptides in the system has been established; and, second, that the actions of ethanol on the system are also well-defined. The hypothalamic-pituitary-luteinizing hormone (LH) axis satisfies both of these criteria and was employed in the present studies. We found that naloxone substantially attenuated the inhibitory effects of ethanol on serum LH levels and, similarly, that ethanol effectively antagonized naloxone-induced increases in serum LH levels. The results thus support the hypothesis that ethanol exerts some of its effects through opioid-containing neuronal elements in the CNS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-171
Number of pages7
JournalNIDA Research Monograph Series
VolumeVol. 41
StatePublished - 1981


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