Beta-endorphin and ACTH levels in peripheral blood during and after aerobic and anaerobic exercise

  • Kenny de Meirleir
  • Nico Naaktgeboren
  • André Van Steirteghem
  • Frans Gorus
  • Jan Olbrecht
  • Pierre Block
Article

Summary

Beta-endorphin (Β-End) and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) were determined in the peripheral blood of 14 human volunteers exercising on a bicycle ergometer. After 1 h of submaximal work below anaerobic threshold (AT), defined as the 4 mmol · l−1 lactic acid level in arteriolar blood (Kindermann 1979; Mader 1980), Β-End and ACTH levels did not change from control conditions. Eleven of the same 14 subjects performed an uninterrupted graded exercise test on the same bicycle ergometer until exhaustion. This time Β-End and ACTH levels increased concomitantly with exercise of high intensity: at each moment, during and after this maximal test, a highly significant correlation (P<0.0001) was noted between the levels of Β- End and ACTH. The peak values of these hormones were reached within 10 min after stopping maximal exercise, and coincided with lactic acid peak levels. A rise in lactic acid levels above the anaerobic threshold always preceded the exercise-induced rise in Β-End and ACTH. Within the population tested, two subgroups could be distinguished: one comprising individuals whose hormonal response nearly coincided with the rise in lactic acid (rapid responders) and a second group composed of subjects whose normal response appeared delayed with respect to the lactic acid rise (slow responders). These results support the view that Β-End and ACTH are secreted in equimolar quantities into the blood circulation in response to exercise, and suggest that metabolic changes of anaerobiosis play a key role in the regulation of stress-hormone release. In view of the variable time of onset of hormonal response, it seems likely that complex regulatory mechanisms are operative.

Key words

Exercise Anaerobic threshold Beta-endorphin ACTH 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Berk LS, Tan SA, Anderson CL, Reiss G (1981) Beta-endorphin response to exercise in athletes and non-athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 13 (abstract):134Google Scholar
  2. Carr DB, Bullen BA, Skrinar GS, Arnold MA, Rosenbladt M, Beitins IZ, Martin JB, Mc Arthur JW (1981) Physical conditioning facilitates the exercise-induced secretion of beta-endorphin and beta-lipotropin in women. N Engl J Med 305:560–562Google Scholar
  3. Colt EW, Wardlow SL, Frantz AG (1981) The effect of running on plasma Β-endorphin. Life Sci 28:1637–1640Google Scholar
  4. Dearman J, Francis KT (1983) Plasma levels of cathecholamines, cortisol, and beta-endorphins in male athletes after running 26.2, 6 and 2 miles. J Sports Med 23:30–37Google Scholar
  5. Dwyer J, Bybee R (1983) Heart rate indices of anaerobic threshold. Med Sci Sports Exerc 15:72–76Google Scholar
  6. Elliot DL, Cooldberg L, Watts WJ, Ornoll E (1984) Resistance exercise and plasma beta-endorphin/beta-lipotropin immunoreactivity. Life Sci 34:515–518Google Scholar
  7. Farrell PA, Gates WK, Maksued MG, Morgan WP (1982) Increases in plasma Β-endorphin/Β-lipotropin immunoreactivity after treadmill running in humans. J Appl Physiol 52:1245–1249Google Scholar
  8. Farrell PA, Garthwaite TL, Gustafson AB (1983) Plasma adrenocorticotrophin and cortisol responses to submaximal and exhaustive exercise. J Appl Physiol 55:1441–1444Google Scholar
  9. Fraioli F, Moretti C, Paolucci D, Alicicco E, Crescenzi F, Fortunio G (1980) Physical exercise stimulates marked concomitant release of Β-endorphin and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) in peripheral blood in man. Experientia 36:987–989Google Scholar
  10. Gambert SR, Gaithwaite TL, Pontzer CH, Cook EE, Tristani FE, Duthie EH, Martinson DR, Hagen TC, McCarty DJ (1981) Running elevates plasma Β-endorphin immunoreactivity and ACTH in untrained human subjects (41225). Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 168:1–4Google Scholar
  11. Kindermann W, Simon G, Keul J (1979) The significance of the aerobic-anaerobic transition for the determination of work load intensities during endurance training. Eur J Appl Physiol 42:25–34Google Scholar
  12. Krieger DT, Liotta A, Li CH (1977) Human plasma immunoreactive Β lipotropin: correlation with basal and stimulated plasma ACTH concentration. Life Sci 21:1771Google Scholar
  13. Mader A, Liesen H, Heck H, Philippi H, Rost R, Schürch P, Hollmann W (1976) Zur Bennteilung der sportsartsjecifischen Ausdauerleistungsfühigheit in Labor. Sportarzt Sportmed 27:80–88, 109–112Google Scholar
  14. Pitts FN, McClure JV (1972) Lactate metabolism in anxiety neurosis. N Engl J Med 277:1329–1336Google Scholar
  15. Sutton JR (1978) Hormonal and metabolic responses to exercise in subjects of high and law work capacities. Med Sci Sports Exerc 10:1–6Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenny de Meirleir
    • 1
  • Nico Naaktgeboren
    • 1
  • André Van Steirteghem
    • 1
  • Frans Gorus
    • 1
  • Jan Olbrecht
    • 1
  • Pierre Block
    • 1
  1. 1.Academic Hospital of the Vrije Universiteit BrusselsBrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations