Plasma beta-endorphin, prolactin (PRL), FSH and LH were measured in 17 volunteer male subjects at rest and under the stress caused by a long-distance nordic ski race. The race induced increased levels of beta-endorphin and PRL in all skiers. The changes in PRL with exercise were significantly related to the changes in beta-endorphin (r = 0.69, p less than 0.001). Furthermore, the highly trained skiers training over 150 km.week-1 of nordic ski showed consistently higher post-exercise beta-endorphin and PRL levels than the moderately trained skiers who trained for 20 km.week-1. In addition the race induced slight falls in FSH and LH; however plasma gonadotropin levels did not show any correlation with plasma beta-endorphin concentrations and did not differ between the two groups of skiers. These results suggest that endogenous opioid peptides may modulate PRL secretion in heavy exercise, since they are of minor importance in the release of FSH and LH in such a situation. The observations also suggest that the degree of previous training and the exercise intensity do seem to be responsible for the hormonal changes.

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]