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Endocrinol Nutr. 2013 Aug-Sep;60(7):396-403. doi: 10.1016/j.endonu.2012.09.003. Epub 2013 Apr 25.

[Contributions of cortisol suppression tests to understanding of psychiatric disorders: a narrative review of literature].

[Article in Spanish]

Author information

  • 1Servicio de Endocrinología y Nutrición, Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Madrid, España. doctortajimapozo@gmail.com


Activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis had been studied for the past half century, when some researchers noted that some patients with Cushing's syndrome and severe mood disorders had high baseline cortisol levels, which resulted in an inhibited response in the 1mg dexamethasone suppression test. Altered dexamethasone suppression test results were subsequently found in many psychiatric diseases, including anorexia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder, degenerative dementia, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia. The relationship between high baseline cortisol levels and stress has also been studied. Some researches on the genesis of borderline personality disorder focused on traumatic childhood backgrounds. Other investigations aimed at elucidating the relationship between traumatic backgrounds and some psychiatric disorders noted that patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder showed an enhanced cortisol suppression with low cortisol doses (0.5 mg). Recent studies showed that use of an ultra-low dose of cortisol during the dexamethasone suppression test may be helpful for detecting disorders with hyperactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Recent advances in neuroimaging support the existence of hyperactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in patients with borderline personality disorder, relating a decreased pituitary gland volume to major traumatic backgrounds and suicidal attempts. The purpose of this paper is to make a narrative review of research using dexamethasone suppression test in psychiatric disorders, in order to ascertain its value as a supplemental diagnostic test or as a prognostic marker.

Copyright © 2012 SEEN. Published by Elsevier Espana. All rights reserved.


Borderline personality disorder; Cortisol; Depresión; Depression; Dexametasona; Dexamethasone; Dexamethasone suppression test; Eje hipotálamo-hipofisario-adrenal; Estrés; Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis; Stress; Test supresión dexametosona; Trastorno límite personalidad

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