Effects of the glucocorticoid antagonist RU 486 on pituitary-adrenal function in patients with anorexia nervosa and healthy volunteers: enhancement of plasma ACTH and cortisol secretion in underweight patients.
To further explore whether the hypercortisolism of anorexia nervosa reflects an alteration in the set point for corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) secretion or is a manifestation of glucocorticoid resistance, we examined plasma ACTH and cortisol responses to the competitive glucocorticoid antagonist RU 486 (10 mg/kg, p.o. at 8.00 h) versus placebo (PBO) in 7 healthy female volunteers and 8 patients with DSM-III-R anorexia nervosa, all of whom were studied while underweight [64.3 +/- 2.1% average body weight (ABW), mean +/- SE] and 5 of whom were restudied longitudinally following refeeding (> or = 85% ABW, mean 87.4 +/- 0.4% ABW). Blood samples were obtained from 16.00 to 16.30 h and from 4.00 to 8.00 h following dosing. Underweight anorexics were significantly hypercortisolemic by 24 h urinary free cortisol excretion compared with controls (239 +/- 37 vs. 119 +/- 12 nmol/day, p < 0.01). Both controls and underweight anorexics had robust early morning (4.00-8.00 h) plasma cortisol responses to RU 486 (465 +/- 61 and 719 +/- 49 nmol/l) compared with PBO (370 +/- 52 and 451 +/- 31 nmol/l; p < 0.02 and p < 0.01, respectively). The underweight anorexics showed a significant mean early morning plasma ACTH response to RU compared with placebo (3.28 +/- 0.63 vs. 2.01 +/- 0.24 pmol/l, p < 0.05), while the controls showed a trend toward an increase in mean plasma ACTH after RU (3.11 +/- 0.36 pmol/l) compared with PBO (2.31 +/- 0.41 pmol/l, p < 0.13); plasma ACTH means were greater on the RU day than the placebo day at 20 of 25 sampling points (p < 0.001). However, the increment in ACTH on the RU day compared to the placebo day was greater in the underweight anorexics at the first 20 of 25 consecutive time points of the early morning sampling period (p < 0.001). Moreover, underweight anorexics showed a significant plasma ACTH and cortisol response to RU 486 at 16.00-16.30 h (8-8.5 h following administration), while the controls showed no significant response of plasma ACTH or cortisol at this time. When restudied following weight recovery, anorexic patients showed reductions in 24-hour urinary free cortisol excretion (to 191 +/- 40 nmol/day) which were no longer significantly elevated compared with control values.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
Kling, MA; Demitrack, MA; Whitfield, HJ; Kalogeras, KT; Listwak, SJ; DeBellis, MD; Chrousos, GP; Gold, PW; Brandt, HA
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