In humans the release of growth hormone (GH) elicited by dopamine (DA) and DA agonists may represent a reliable model to assess change in sensitivity of DA receptors. We now report that in chronic alcoholics, 4-7 days after the suspension of alcohol consumption, the increase of GH response to DA infusion was higher than that seen in non alcoholic volunteers. The specificity of this GH response to DA administration was demonstrated by the use of domperidone, a novel peripheral antagonist of DA receptors. These results suggest the development of hyper-responsiveness of DA receptors involved in the control of GH secretion in chronic alcoholics during the later phases of the "withdrawal syndrome".
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