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Bone density measurement in major depression.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA.


1. Disturbances in cortisol secretory patterns and excessive secretion of cortisol after a variety of neuroendocrine stimulation tests indicate excessive activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis in depression. 2. Peripheral indicators of hypercortisolemia have also been observed (e.g. enlarged adrenal glands, glucocorticoid insensitivity and insulin intolerance). 3. Excessive cortisol production may also result in altered bone metabolism and bone architecture, and a recent study by Michelson et al. (1996) found slightly lower bone density in depressed women with hypercortisoluria versus healthy controls. 4. In this study, the authors examined bone mineral density (BMD) using dual energy radiographic absorptometry (DEXA) technique in 6 depressed patients (3 with and 3 without hypercortisoluria) with a mean (+/- SD) age of 41 +/- 13 years, and in 5 healthy, controls with mean age 38 +/- 4 years). 5. DEXA images of the lumbar vertebrae (L1 to L4) for BMD were acquired over a 5-minute interval. 6. Overall, the authors observed no difference in mean BMD values between patients and controls, nor were differences observed between patients with and without hypercortisoluria.

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