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Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Nov 1;56(9):651-6.

Circadian regulation of cortisol after hippocampal damage in humans.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA. tony-buchanan@uiowa.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is substantial evidence that the hippocampus (HC) regulates the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis. Damage to the HC in animals produces a transient alteration in diurnal and stress-related HPA activity. This study was designed to examine the effects of HC damage on basal cortisol secretion in humans.

METHODS:

Salivary cortisol was measured in 22 patients with HC damage (12 with bilateral damage and 10 with unilateral damage), 7 brain-damaged comparison participants, 10 healthy, age-matched comparison participants, and 6 of the patients' caregivers. Salivary cortisol samples were taken immediately after awakening, 30 min after awakening, at 8:00 am, 11:00 am, 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm, and at bedtime on a single day. Brain-injured patients underwent a structural magnetic resonance imaging scan to examine quantitative volumes of the HC.

RESULTS:

Both bilateral and unilateral HC damage abolished the cortisol response to awakening documented in the comparison groups. Caregivers of bilateral HC patients showed a reduced response to awakening. The remainder of the circadian pattern was not affected in the HC patients; all groups showed a significant diurnal variation. There was no association between HC volume and cortisol secretion.

CONCLUSIONS:

Hippocampal damage in humans abolishes the cortisol response to awakening, whereas the remainder of the diurnal cycle is unaffected in these patients. These data suggest a unique role of the HC in the control of basal cortisol secretion.

PMID:
15522248
DOI:
10.1016/j.biopsych.2004.08.014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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