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Biol Psychiatry. 1997 Dec 15;42(12):1123-9.

Clomipramine challenge responses covary with Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire scores in healthy subjects.

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Clinical Research Unit, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, USA.


Cloninger's Unified Biosocial Theory of Personality postulates a relationship between the relative functional activity of central serotonergic, dopaminergic, and noradrenergic neurotransmitter systems, and the strength of three elemental dimensions of personality. These dimensions are Harm Avoidance, Novelty Seeking, and Reward Dependence, respectively. Accordingly, we predicted that neuroendocrine responses to serotonergic challenge would correlate with Harm Avoidance scores, but not with Novelty Seeking or Reward Dependence scores. We examined the relationship between the prolactin and cortisol responses to a 12.5-mg intravenous clomipramine challenge and these personality dimensions as measured by Cloninger's Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire in 32 healthy subjects. The cortisol response correlated only with Harm Avoidance scores, as predicted; however, prolactin response did not correlate with Harm Avoidance scores. Instead, it demonstrated an inverse relationship with Novelty Seeking scores. There was a positive relationship of baseline prolactin with Harm Avoidance in a post hoc analysis. Cortisol response to serotonergic challenge may be a better indicator for responsivity of serotonergic systems as they relate to the personality dimension of Harm Avoidance than is prolactin. Prolactin responses may be overly affected by dopaminergic influences; however, baseline prolactin may still be a valid indicator of serotonergic tone.

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