Subjective effects and changes in steroid hormone concentrations in humans following acute consumption of alcohol.
BACKGROUND: GABAA receptors are an important site of action of endogenous neurosteroids and an important mediator of several behavioral effects of alcohol. This study examined the effects of alcohol on plasma steroid hormone concentrations on the hypothesis that the endocrine effects mediate some of the subjective effects of alcohol. METHODS: Thirty-two healthy subjects (17 men) with no history of a substance use disorder participated in this human laboratory study. All subjects consumed three standard drinks of grain alcohol. Subjective measures and blood samples for steroid concentrations were collected at baseline and 40 min after alcohol consumption. RESULTS: Alcohol increased self-reported stimulation, alcohol liking, and desire for more alcohol. Alcohol also increased pregnenolone (PREG) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) concentrations, while it decreased progesterone (PROG) and allopregnanolone (ALLO) concentrations, as well as ALLO/PREG and PROG/PREG ratios. In men, the change in PREG concentration was significantly correlated with alcohol liking, while the alcohol-induced change in ALLO concentration correlated significantly with both alcohol liking and desire for more alcohol. DISCUSSION: These findings provide preliminary support for the hypothesis that endogenous neurosteroids mediate some of the subjective effects of alcohol. Efforts to replicate these findings should aim to specify more clearly the nature and time course of the effects.
Pierucci-Lagha, A; Covault, J; Feinn, R; Khisti, RT; Morrow, AL; Marx, CE; Shampine, LJ; Kranzler, HR
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