The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of clonidine—an α2-adrenergic agonist—and naloxone—an opiate antagonist—on pituitary hormone release. The study involved 43 women: 20 menopausal women, 9 untreated women with ACTH-dependent Cushing's disease, and 14 healthy women. Serum GH, ACTH, LH, FSH, TSH, cortisol, and plasma β-endorphin concentrations were measured with RIA methods. A significant increase in GH and a significant decrease in ACTH and in cortisol was observed after clonidine injection in healthy women. Clonidine caused a significant decrease in LH concentration in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. However, naloxone induced the opposite effect on pituitary hormone release. In Cushing's disease, ACTH significantly decreased in response to clonidine. In postmenopausal women with hypertension a decrease in blood pressure, a marked decrease in the number of hot flashes, as well as a diminution in amplitude and frequency of LH pulsatility was found. Conclusions are as follows: (1) Clonidine may be useful in the treatment of hypertensive menopausal women; and (2) a diminution in ACTH, β-endorphin, and cortisol release in response to clonidine was observed in Cushing's disease.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. B. Baranowska at Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, 110 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H2W 1R7.
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