Central and peripheral measures of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and monoamine neurotransmitter activity were assessed in 8 depressed patients during a medication-free period and again after completion of a course of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Seven patients responded fully to ECT. At baseline there was corresponding activation of the HPA and noradrenergic systems, with apparent elevation in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in some patients. Neither CRH nor adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) in CSF changed significantly after ECT, with a mean 10% decline in CSF CRH. Urinary free cortisol (UFC) excretion was high both before and after treatment. Although peripheral noradrenergic hyperractivity at baseline appeared to normalize with ECT, CSF concentrations of the principal norepinephrine metabolite, 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenyl-glycol (MHPG) were unaffected and remained correlated with CSF CRH. In contrast, there increases in the CSF levels of the main metabolite of serotonin in half the patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biological Psychiatry