Escape from dexamethasone suppression: possible role of an impaired inhibitory opioid mechanism.
Several lines of evidence indicate that the activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in depression is disinhibited. Escape from dexamethasone suppression, although not limited to is more frequent in patients with endogenous depression compared to normals or patients with other psychiatric diagnoses. Norepinephrine, serotonin and acetylcholine have been implicated in the pathophysiology of this neuroendocrine abnormality. Morphine, 5 mg intravenously, suppressed cortisol secretion in healthy volunteers (n = 4) and the majority of 32 psychiatric inpatients. However, patients with endogenous depression and abnormal dexamethasone suppression test results show early resumption (escape) of cortisol secretion following the initial suppression induced by morphine. It is concluded that the pathophysiology of this neuroendocrine abnormality is not limited to classical neurotransmitter-HPA axis interaction but that it also involves opioid inhibitory mechanisms.
Zis, AP; Haskett, RF; Albala, AA; Carroll, BJ
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