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      Different opioid mechanisms are involved in the modulation of ACTH and gonadotrophin release in man.


      Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, secretion, Adult, Female, Gonadotropins, Pituitary, Humans, Hydrocortisone, blood, Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System, physiology, Male, Naloxone, pharmacology, Pituitary Gland, Anterior, Pituitary-Adrenal System, Receptors, Opioid

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          Both the pituitary-adrenal axis and the pituitary-gonadal axis are under the tonic inhibitory control of endogenous opioid peptides in man. However, the precise opioid receptor involved in the modulation of these hormones remains unknown. The effect of a dose of intravenous naloxone on serum levels of luteinising hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and plasma cortisol was therefore investigated in ten normal subjects. In the male subjects, naloxone at a dose of 25 micrograms/kg caused a significant increase in serum LH and FSH; no increase in response was seen at the two higher doses (100 micrograms/kg and 250 micrograms/kg). The lowest dose (6 micrograms/kg) caused no change in serum LH and FSH. In the female subjects, tested in the early follicular phase of their cycles, no dose of naloxone significantly increased circulating gonadotrophins. In both male and female subjects, naloxone only stimulated a rise in serum cortisol at the highest dose (250 micrograms/kg). A second study in six normal subjects demonstrated that the rise in cortisol with the highest dose of naloxone was secondary to a rise in plasma ACTH. It is concluded that the opioid receptor(s) controlling gonadotrophin release in man are naloxone-sensitive, and are probably epsilon-receptors; the naloxone insensitivity of the pituitary-adrenal axis suggests that these responses are modulated by kappa- or delta-receptors.

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