Alcoholism abolishes the effects of melatonin on growth hormone secretion in humans


Coiro V, Vescovi PP






Chronic alcohol consumption profoundly affects hypothalamic-pituitary function. The present study was performed in order to establish whether alcoholism modifies the effects of melatonin (MEL) on the neuroendocrine control of growth hormone (GH) secretion. For this purpose, the effects of oral administration of 12 mg MEL or placebo on basal and hypoglycemia-stimulated GH secretion were tested in nine (40-52-year-old) alcoholic men after 10-31 days of abstinence and in nine age- and weight-matched normal controls. Hypoglycemia was induced with an intravenous bolus injection of 0.15 IU/kg body weight of insulin. MEL but not placebo administration induced a small, but significant increase in basal GH secretion in the normal controls. In contrast, neither MEL nor placebo treatment significantly changed the basal serum GH levels in alcoholic men. Both groups showed a similar hypoglycemic pattern after insulin administration. The GH response to insulin-induced hypoglycemia was significantly lower in alcoholic than in normal subjects. MEL administration significantly reduced hypoglycemia-induced GH rise in the normal controls, but not in alcoholic patients. These data show that alcoholism not only reduces the GH response to insulin-induced hypoglycemia, but also abolishes MEL actions on basal and hypoglycemia-stimulated GH secretion.