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Psychiatry Res. 1992 Aug;43(2):137-46.

Hormone responses to fenfluramine and placebo challenge in endogenous depression.

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Herzog Hospital-Ezrath Nashim, Israel.


Plasma prolactin and cortisol levels after oral administration of d-l fenfluramine hydrochloride (60 mg) and placebo were examined in 24 endogenously depressed patients and 21 age- and sex-matched normal control subjects in a randomized, double-blind study. Prolactin levels were significantly increased by fenfluramine in both groups, but the response was significantly blunted in the depressed patients compared with the controls. This effect was partially dependent upon elevated baseline cortisol levels in the depressed group and was also influenced by a history of weight loss. Plasma cortisol levels were not increased by fenfluramine in either group. These findings confirm previous reports and suggest that patients with endogenous major depression are characterized by central serotonergic hyporesponsivity. The need to account for baseline effects on hormonal responses to putative serotonergic agents is supported by the findings; however, these effects appear to be less striking when endogenicity is a prominent clinical feature of the depressive syndrome. The apparently complex influence of weight loss on prolactin response to serotonergic challenge remains to be clarified as well as the role played by the bioavailability of the challenge drug and its metabolite.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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