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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993 Jan;76(1):192-6.

Acutely raised corticotropin levels in Addison's disease are not associated with increased plasma arginine vasopressin and corticotropin-releasing factor concentrations in peripheral plasma.

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Department of Endocrinology, Princess Margaret Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Using an intensive sampling protocol we have examined the associations of peripheral plasma arginine vasopressin (AVP) and CRF with nocturnal ACTH hypersecretion in patients with Addison's disease. Six subjects were studied during a phase of cortisol withdrawal (36 h) and after cortisol substitution, and the findings were compared to those in four normal control subjects. The pulse properties of ACTH hypersecretion at a 10-min sampling interval have also been examined in these settings, using Cluster analysis. In the period before cortisol replacement, the Addison's patients showed significantly greater ACTH peak maxima and peak increments than the control subjects [107 +/- 44 vs. 5.5 +/- 1.3 pmol/L (P = 0.009) and 57 +/- 23 pmol/L vs. 3.7 +/- 0.9 pmol/L (P < 0.05), respectively]. After cortisol replacement, a significant decrease in mean peak increment (57 +/- 24 vs. 15 +/- 5 pmol/L; P = 0.021) occurred. The mean interpulse intervals did not differ significantly between the Addison's and control subjects (59 +/- 5 vs. 59 +/- 4 min overall). Although not significant, the trend for the pulse interval to increase after oral cortisol (60 +/- 6 vs. 72 +/- 9 min) is probably a result of the extremely low levels of ACTH after oral cortisol administration, making peak detection difficult. Despite the ACTH hypersecretion in the Addison's subjects, plasma AVP levels were at no time different from those in the control subjects. Plasma CRF levels tended to be lower in the Addison's patients than in the control subjects. We conclude that in states of cortisol deficiency, such as Addison's disease, ACTH hypersecretion results from enhanced ACTH peak amplitude, without a change in the frequency of ACTH secretory pulses. The marked increase in plasma ACTH that follows acute cortisol deprivation is independent of detectable changes in peripheral plasma levels of CRF or AVP.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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