Family history of alcoholism does not influence adrenocortical hyporesponsiveness in abstinent alcohol-dependent men

Elizabeth Hardin, Bryon Adinoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background: Early abstinence in alcohol-dependent subjects is marked by adrenocortical hyporesponsivity. However, it is uncertain whether the blunted response is primarily attributable to a genetic vulnerability or to the chronic abuse of alcohol. In the present study, the authors investigated the influence of a family history (FH) of alcoholism upon suppressed glucocorticoid reactivity. Methods: Twenty-two abstinent alcohol-dependent and 14 control men were studied. The cortisol response was assessed in 11 patients following oCRH infusion (.4 ug/kg) and in a separate group of 11 patients following cosyntropin infusion (.01 ug/kg) preceded by high-dose intravenous dexamethasone (8 mg). FH, as determined by self-report, was assessed using two different methods: history of parental alcoholism and number of alcohol-dependent first- and second-degree relatives. Results: Neither a parental history or familial loading of alcoholism had a significant effect upon glucocorticoid responsivity in abstinent alcohol-dependent men. Conclusions: Adrenocorticol responsiveness in recently abstinent alcohol-dependent men does not appear to reflect a preexisting biologic vulnerability to alcoholism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-160
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2008



  • Alcoholism
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Cosyntropin
  • Dexamethasone
  • Pituitary-adrenal system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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