Effects of electroconvulsive therapy on plasma vasopressin and oxytocin.
BACKGROUND: Animal studies suggest that vasopressin has cognitive-enhancing properties and oxytocin may have amnestic effects. A clinical report suggests that the acute increase in oxytocin-associated neurophysin predicts clinical response to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in depressed patients. METHODS: Medication-free patients with major depression were randomized to receive right unilateral or bilateral ECT administered with electrical stimulus intensity at either just above seizure threshold or at 150% above seizure threshold. The associations between plasma vasopressin, oxytocin, ECT treatment parameters, clinical outcome, and cognitive effects were assessed. RESULTS: The sample comprised 55 patients. At the second ECT, patients receiving ECT at 150% above initial seizure threshold had significantly greater increases in plasma vasopressin than patients receiving low-dose ECT (ps < .01-.04), with no effects of electrode placement. At the second and ninth ECT treatments, the vasopressin or oxytocin surges were not associated with clinical improvement, seizure duration, time to orientation, or memory test performance. There were inverse trend-level associations between the acute surge in oxytocin levels at the ninth ECT and clinical response, contradicting a report in the literature. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, these findings do not support the hypothesis that diencephalic seizure propagation is central to the mechanism of action of ECT.
Devanand, DP; Lisanby, S; Lo, ES; Fitzsimons, L; Cooper, TB; Halbreich, U; Sackeim, HA
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