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Life Sci. 1989;44(4):273-80.

Effect of ethanol on androgen receptors in the anterior pituitary, hypothalamus and brain cortex in rats.

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Department of Anatomical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma.


The purpose of this study was to investigate ethanol-induced changes in androgen receptor sites in the anterior pituitary, hypothalamus, and brain cortex. Young adult male King-Holtzman rats were fed for 5 months a nutritionally complete liquid diet, with ethanol or isocaloric sucrose constituting 36% of the total calories. Androgen receptor sites were measured by sucrose density gradient and charcoal assay using tritiated dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Scatchard plot analysis of the data revealed that apparent dissociation constants of DHT-receptor complex for the anterior pituitary, hypothalamus, and brain cortex from alcohol-fed animals were estimated to be 0.7 +/- 0.13, 0.6 +/- 0.16 and 0.9 +/- 0.15 nM, respectively. These values are identical to those of their isocaloric controls. The concentrations of cytosol androgen receptors of the pituitary, hypothalamus, and brain cortex from alcohol-fed rats were 8.0 +/- 1.2, 6.2 +/- 1.0 and 4.9 +/- 0.7 fmol/mg protein, respectively. This represents about a 34, 24, and 22% reduction when compared to the values of the isocaloric control animals. In contrast to control rats, neither castration nor androgen or LHRH replacement to castrated alcohol-fed rats altered an alcohol-induced reduction of androgen receptor contents. Serum LH and testosterone levels were significantly decreased in alcohol-fed rats but these hormone levels were increased by administration of LHRH or norepinephrine. Such reduction of androgen receptors, serum LH and testosterone, but enhancement of these hormone levels by treatment with neurohormone and neurotransmitter in these animals suggests that ethanol exerts an adverse effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary unit and the neurotransmitter-hypothalamic hormone relationship, resulting in impairment of the androgen-induced sexual events and a suppression of the pituitary gonadotropin secretion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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