Vasopressin, corticotrophin-releasing factor, and pituitary adrenal responses to acute cold stress in normal humans

G. A. Wittert, H. K. Or, J. H. Livesey, A. M. Richards, R. A. Donald, E. A. Espiner

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Acute cold stress is a consistent stimulus to ACTH secretion in rats yet inhibits arginine vasopressin (AVP) in both rats and humans. We have studied the interrelationships of AVP, corticotrophin-releasing factor, and atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) in the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal response to acute cold stress in normal humans. Six healthy male volunteers deprived of food and fluid for 6 h, and minimally clothed, were studied in the early afternoon. After a 30-min period at 22 C, subjects were exposed to cold stress (4 C for 30 min), followed by a 30-min equilibration period at 22 C. By the end of the period of cold exposure there was a fall in plasma volume of 7.8 ± 1.4% (mean ± SEM), a significant increase in both systolic blood pressure (P = 0.0001) and in plasma norepinephrine level (P = 0.0001), but no change in plasma epinephrine or in plasma ANF. Plasma AVP levels fell significantly (P < 0.01) to reach a nadir at 5-10 min after cold exposure before returning to baseline levels. A significant fall in plasma cortisol levels occurred during the first 15 min of the baseline period and remained stable thereafter. No significant changes in plasma corticotrophin-releasing factor or ACTH occurred. These results suggest that cold inhibition of AVP release, presumably via afferent baroreceptor pathways, may act to reduce the response of the corticotrophs to a potentially noxious stimulus. Inhibition of AVP and/or ACTH during acute cold exposure are not dependent upon an increase in plasma ANF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750-755
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Jan 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical

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