THE EFFECTS OF CORTISOL INFUSION UPON HORMONE-SECRETION FROM THE ANTERIOR-PITUITARY AND SUBJECTIVE MOOD IN DEPRESSIVE-ILLNESS AND IN CONTROLS

G M GOODWIN, W J MUIR, J R SECKL, J BENNIE, S CARROLL, H DICK, G FINK

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Abstract / Description of output

The aims of this study were to determine whether the administration of cortisol has a significant effect on mood in patients with depression and whether the effects of cortisol on changes in plasma hormone concentrations are like those of synthetic corticosteroids. Twelve patients had major depression and one each had dysthmic disorder and a depressive adjustment disorder. Five were male and nine were female. All were in-patients. Eight normal subjects, two females and six males, were used as controls. Basal beta-endorphin concentrations were 2- to 3-fold higher in depressed patients than in control subjects, but there were no significant differences between the patient and control groups in the basal (pre-infusion) plasma concentrations of ACTH, cortisol, growth hormone or prolactin. Cortisol, but not saline infusion resulted in a significant improvement in self rated mood. Surprisingly, cortisol infusion at first increased plasma beta-endorphin concentrations. At later times after cortisol infusion, plasma beta-endorphin concentrations decreased as did the plasma concentrations of ACTH and growth hormone; prolactin levels were increased. These results show (i) that cortisol infusion raises mood significantly in major depression, (ii) that plasma beta-endorphin concentration is a potential marker of major depression (iii) that rather than blunting of corticosteroid effects, responses to cortisol may even be enhanced in depressive illness. The unexpected, initial increase in beta-endorphin stimulated by cortisol, suggests that the action of cortisol is not simply one of negative feedback inhibition, but may involve mineralocorticoid, as well as glucocorticoid receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders (JAD)
Volume26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1992

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