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Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Feb 1;45(3):274-7.

Concentrations of 3 alpha-reduced neuroactive steroids and their precursors in plasma of patients with major depression and after clinical recovery.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is preclinical and clinical evidence that plasma concentrations of 3 alpha-hydroxy-5 alpha-pregnan-20-one (3 alpha,5 alpha-tetrahydroprogesterone; 3 alpha,5 alpha-THP), a neuroactive steroid that is a positive allosteric modulator of the GABAA receptor, are altered in depression and normalize as a result of antidepressant treatment. However, no data are available on the concentrations of 3 alpha,21-dihydroxy-5 alpha-pregnan-20-one (3 alpha,5 alpha-tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone; 3 alpha,5 alpha-THDOC), another GABA ergic neuroactive steroid, in depression.

METHODS:

We studied nine depressed patients before and after treatment with various antidepressants and compared them to healthy matched control subjects. Blood samples were quantified by means of a highly sensitive combined gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis.

RESULTS:

Compared to control subjects, plasma concentrations of 3 alpha,5 alpha-THDOC and its precursor 5 alpha-dihydrodeoxycorticosterone (5 alpha-DHDOC) were increased in depressed patients and were not significantly influenced by antidepressant treatment. However, 3 alpha,5 alpha-THP plasma concentrations were decreased in depression and clinically effective antidepressant treatment was accompanied by an increase of 3 alpha,5 alpha-THP concentrations in these patients.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results provide the first evidence for a differential alteration in the plasma concentrations of the 3 alpha-reduced neuroactive steroids 3 alpha,5 alpha-THDOC and 3 alpha,5 alpha-THP in major depression, which is only partially reversed by successful antidepressant treatment.

PMID:
10023501
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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