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RETRACTED ARTICLE

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Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Oct 1;54(7):710-8.

Assessment of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis over a 24-hour diurnal period and in response to neuroendocrine challenges in women with and without childhood sexual abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Preclinical studies showed that early stress results in long-term alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. We performed a comprehensive assessment of the HPA axis in women with and without a history of early childhood sexual abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

METHODS:

Fifty-two women with and without a history of early childhood sexual abuse and PTSD underwent a comprehensive assessment of the HPA axis, including measurement of cortisol in plasma every 15 min over a 24-hour period and cortisol and corticotropin (ACTH) following corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and ACTH challenge.

RESULTS:

Abused women with PTSD had lower levels of cortisol during the afternoon hours (12:00-8:00 PM) of a 24-hour period compared with non-PTSD women. Their ACTH response to a CRF challenge was blunted compared with nonabused non-PTSD (but not abused non-PTSD) women. There were no differences in cortisol response to CRF and ACTH challenges between the groups. Increased PTSD symptom levels were associated with low afternoon cortisol levels.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings suggest that early abuse is associated with increased CRF drive as evidenced by decreased pituitary sensitivity to CRF, whereas in abuse with PTSD there is a specific hypocortisolemia that is most pronounced in the afternoon hours.

PMID:
14512211
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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