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Biol Psychiatry. 2001 Dec 15;50(12):965-77.

Increased pituitary and adrenal reactivity in premenopausal women with posttraumatic stress disorder.

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1
VA Connecticut Healthcare System, Psychiatry Service/116A, 950 Campbell Avenue, New Haven, CT 06516, USA.

Erratum in

  • Biol Psychiatry 2002 Oct 1;52(7):771.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Limited studies of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis regulation in posttraumatic stress disorder have been performed in premenopausal women. We therefore undertook a study of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis regulation in this population.

METHODS:

Outpatient posttraumatic stress disorder subjects were compared with healthy, age- and weight-matched nontraumatized subjects. Subjects were free from psychotropic medications, alcohol and other illicit substances for at least 4 weeks before study. Menstrual cycle phase was determined by monitoring the LH surge and plasma progesterone levels. Corticotropin releasing factor and adrenocorticotropin stimulation tests, as well as 24-hour urinary-free cortisol measurements were performed.

RESULTS:

Corticotropin releasing factor test: Baseline adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol levels did not differ between the 12 PTSD and 11 comparison subjects, but the posttraumatic stress disorder group had greater adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol responses to corticotropin releasing factor, as well as a later cortisol peak. Adrenocorticotropic hormone test: Baseline cortisol levels did not differ between the 10 posttraumatic stress disorder subjects and seven controls, but the posttraumatic stress disorder group showed greater cortisol responses to adrenocorticotropic hormone. Peak cortisol responses to corticotropin releasing factor and adrenocorticotropic hormone were correlated with each other and with 24-hour urinary-free cortisol excretion.

CONCLUSIONS:

Pituitary and adrenal hyperreactivity to exogenous corticotropin releasing factor and adrenocorticotropic hormone is demonstrated in premenopausal women with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder. Cortisol hyperreactivity thus may play a role in the pathophysiology of posttraumatic stress disorder in women.

PMID:
11750893
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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