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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2001 Apr;26(3):273-85.

Cerebrospinal fluid and plasma testosterone levels in post-traumatic stress disorder and tobacco dependence.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA.



Little is known about the relationship between endogenous central nervous system (CNS) testosterone and any psychiatric syndrome. The goal of this study was to screen for potential abnormalities in CNS testosterone levels in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or tobacco dependence.


We sampled cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) via a subarachnoid catheter over six hours and determined hourly basal CSF concentrations of testosterone in 11 combat veterans with PTSD and 12 normal volunteers. Smokers were abstinent for 11-17 h. Testosterone in CSF and matching plasma samples was assayed by radioimmunoassay.


A factor analysis for effects of PTSD status, smoking status and sample time revealed significant effects of PTSD or smoking status, but not time, on CSF testosterone. CSF testosterone levels were lower in individuals with PTSD as compared with normal volunteers. When divided by smoking status, abstinent smokers had mean CSF testosterone levels higher than those of non-smokers. A similar analysis of plasma testosterone revealed no significant effects of any factor on plasma testosterone.


These results indicate that CSF testosterone is significantly influenced by PTSD and smoking status. The exposure of the brain to altered levels of testosterone in smokers and patients with PTSD may have pathophysiologic significance in these conditions.

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