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Am J Psychiatry. 2007 Jan;164(1):163-6.

Effects of parental PTSD on the cortisol response to dexamethasone administration in their adult offspring.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Bronx Veterans Affairs, 130 West Kingsbridge Rd., Bronx, NY 10468, USA.



The authors used a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test to examine the effect of a PTSD risk factor, parental PTSD, on cortisol negative feedback inhibition in adult offspring of Holocaust survivors with PTSD (N=13) versus without PTSD (N=12) as well as a comparison group of offspring whose parents had no Holocaust exposure (N=16).


Blood samples were obtained at 8:00 a.m. for the determination of baseline cortisol. Participants ingested 0.5 mg of dexamethasone at 11:00 p.m., and blood samples were obtained again at 8:00 a.m. the following day.


Enhanced cortisol suppression in response to dexamethasone was associated primarily with parental PTSD status, with minimal contribution of subjects' own trauma-related symptoms.


Enhanced cortisol negative feedback inhibition may be associated with PTSD because it is related to the PTSD risk factor of parental PTSD.

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