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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1987;12(5):333-47.

Neuroendocrine aspects of primary endogenous depression--IV. Pituitary-thyroid axis activity in patients and matched control subjects.

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Department of Psychiatry, Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center, Torrance 90509.


In order to ascertain the extent of hypothalamo--pituitary--thyroid (HPT) axis dysfunction in endogenous depression, we determined nocturnal serum thyrotropin (TSH) concentrations, TSH responses to thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) administration, and serum triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) concentrations in 40 Research Diagnostic Criteria primary, definite endogenous depressives and 40 individually matched normal control subjects. We also examined the relationships of the HPT measures to pre- and post-dexamethasone (DEX) serum and urine cortisol measures and, in the patients, to subject characteristics, the diagnosis of endogenous/melancholic depression by different systems, and the overall severity and specific dimensions of depressive symptomatology. Compared to their matched controls, the patients showed significant reductions in nocturnal serum TSH and serum T3 concentrations. Neither the TSH responses to TRH nor serum T4 concentrations were significantly different between the two groups of subjects. In the patients, none of the subject characteristics, diagnostic schemes for endogenous/melancholic depression or specific aspects of depressive symptomatology were significantly related to HPT activity. The measures of HPT activity were unrelated to measures of hypothalamo--pituitary--adrenal cortical (HPA) axis activity in both groups of subjects.

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