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Coll Antropol. 2001 Dec;25(2):485-92.

Depressive disorder as possible risk factor of osteoporosis.

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Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, University Hospital Sestre milosrdnice, Zagreb, Croatia.


Hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a very complicated control system playing an important role in stress reaction, where glucocorticoids suppress the autonomic (vegetative), endocrine, immunologic and psychic responses to stressful stimuli. We described the marked clinical, physiological, and biochemical connection between osteoporosis and major depressive disorder (MDD). Both conditions are associated with a hyperactive HPA axis and LC/NE system, and hence with increased CRH, cortisol, and catecholamine secretion. There are numerous states or diseases associated with osteoporosis and we were looking for a hypercorticism value as a one of these. Some recent studies demonstrated that earlier history of MDD was associated with marked osteoporosis. In MDD there are two well-documented biochemical abnormalities: hypercortisolism and its resistance to dexamethasone suppression. The present study included 31 MDD patients (19 males and 12 females, mean age 37 +/- 1.3, age range 29-41 years), and 17 healthy male volunteers (mean age 39 +/- 1.6, age range 34-45 years). In each of our patients 24-hour urinary free cortisol, serum cortisol level at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., cortisol in dexamethasone suppression test and bone mineral density were measured. We have, therefore, analyzed a group of young men and women with normal menstrual cycles, who were without signs of osteoporosis in the beginning, and who received anti-depressive therapy for many years. Analysis showed that increased levels of cortisol and the occurrence of osteoporosis, that developed as the result of elevated cortisol level. For our workshop we used nonparametric rang-correlation with Spearman's rho = -0.805, with statistic significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). Patients under long-term history of depression could develop a very stronger type of osteoporosis i.e. it is before known that the patients with untreated Cushing syndrome developed hard osteoporosis.

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