Response to oCRH in depressed and nondepressed adolescents: does gender make a difference?
OBJECTIVE: To examine the hypothesis that hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress vary across gender, contributing to gender differences in the prevalence of depression. METHOD: This study examined gender differences between depressed (n = 21) and control (n = 20) adolescents in adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol response to two ovine corticotropin-releasing hormone (oCRH) tests, at baseline and following a cognitive stressor. RESULTS: Boys had higher (p < .05) measures of ACTH than girls, regardless of depression status, whereas corresponding cortisol parameters were similar in both groups. Cortisol measures were higher (p < .05) at time 1 than at time 2 in both groups, a phenomenon that might reflect the novelty of the situation. CONCLUSIONS: Gender differences in hormone responses may be related to differences in peripheral metabolism of ACTH, resulting in changes of immunoreactivity but not bioactivity or a different set point of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The pattern of ACTH and cortisol responses to oCRH and the 24-hour excretion of free cortisol was normal in adolescents with depression, probably reflecting normal negative feedback mechanisms at this age or that most of these patients suffer from atypical rather than melancholic depression.
Dorn, LD; Burgess, ES; Susman, EJ; von Eye, A; DeBellis, MD; Gold, PW; Chrousos, GP
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