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J Psychiatr Res. 2000 May-Jun;34(3):183-6.

Fluoxetine decreases concentrations of 3 alpha, 5 alpha-tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone (THDOC) in major depression.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Kraepelinstrasse 10, 80804, Munich, Germany.


There is evidence for a differential alteration in the concentrations of 3 alpha-reduced neuroactive steroids in major depression. Because it has been suggested that fluoxetine may shift the activity of the 3 alpha-hydroxysteroid oxidoreductase towards the reductive direction, treatment of major depression may be accompanied by a further increase in plasma 3 alpha, 5 alpha-tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone (THDOC) concentration. We studied eight male depressed patients before and after treatment with fluoxetine and compared them to healthy age-matched control subjects. Blood samples were quantified for 3 alpha, 5 alpha-tetrahydroprogesterone, 3 alpha,5 beta-tetrahydroprogesterone (THP) and THDOC by means of a highly sensitive combined gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis. Compared to control subjects, concentrations of THDOC were higher in depressed patients and decreased after fluoxetine treatment. In contrast, THP concentrations were lower in depressed patients and increased after fluoxetine treatment. Our results give further evidence for a disequilibrium of 3 alpha-reduced neuroactive steroids in major depression, which is normalized by treatment with fluoxetine.

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