Liver alcohol dehydrogenase activity is increased by thyroidectomy, orchidectomy, or hypophysectomy. We investigated the mechanisms of these hormonal effects by examining the effects of testosterone, dexamethasone and thyroid hormone on liver alcohol dehydrogenase activity in hypophysectomized rats and in cultured hepatocytes, and the effect of administration of androgens to neonatal female rats. Testosterone did not lower alcohol dehydrogenase activity in hypophysectomized rats, whereas dexamethasone and thyroxine produced moderate decreases in activity. Triiodothyronine reduced alcohol dehydrogenase activity of cultured hepatocytes from male and hypothyroid female rats in a dose-dependent fashion, confirming that thyroid hormone had pituitary-independent effects on the enzyme activity. Dexamethasone was required for the expression of alcohol dehydrogenase activity in cultured cells, and it increased the enzyme activity when present at supraphysiologic concentrations. Treatment of neonatal female rats with testosterone reduced the activity of the enzyme in adulthood. The difference in alcohol dehydrogenase activity in adult male and female rats appears to be determined in part by neonatal imprinting by androgens and in part by an effect of testosterone that is either mediated by or dependent upon the pituitary. Thyroid hormone reduces alcohol dehydrogenase activity by a direct effect on the liver.
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