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J Neuroendocrinol. 2009 Aug;21(8):722-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2009.01890.x. Epub 2009 Jun 4.

Hypothalamic vasopressin and oxytocin mRNA expression in relation to depressive state in Alzheimer's disease: a difference with major depressive disorder.

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  • 1Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Arginine vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OXT), produced in the hypothalamic paraventricular (PVN) and supraoptic nucleus (SON), are considered to be involved in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD). The objective of this study was to determine, for the first time, the relationship between AVP and OXT gene expression and depressive state in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Post-mortem brain tissue was obtained from six control subjects, and from a prospectively studied cohort of 23 AD patients, using the DSM-IIIR and the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia to determine depression diagnosis and severity. The amount of AVP and OXT mRNA was determined by in situ hybridisation. AD patients did not differ from controls with respect to the amount of AVP or OXT mRNA in the PVN or SON. Also, no differences were found between depressed and nondepressed AD patients and no relationship was found between the depression severity and AVP or OXT mRNA expression. The results indicate that AVP and OXT gene expression in the PVN and SON is unchanged in depressed AD patients compared to nondepressed AD patients. This is in contrast with the enhanced AVP gene expression in MDD, suggesting a difference in pathophysiology between MDD and depression in AD.

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