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Neuropsychobiology. 1998 Nov;38(4):213-7.

Diurnal variation of adrenocortical activity in chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.


Baseline morning and evening serum cortisol and ACTH concentrations, and diurnal changes in hormone levels, were measured in 30 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) but without concurrent depressive disorder and a control group of 15 weight-, age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers. Morning cortisol levels were non-significantly lower in CFS patients, while evening levels were non-significantly higher. ACTH concentrations were non-significantly higher in both the morning and evening. The diurnal change in cortisol levels was significantly less in CFS than in controls (p < 0.05). In CFS subjects, evening levels of cortisol correlated significantly with measures of general health and physical functioning, while diurnal change in cortisol was positively correlated with measures of functional improvement over the past year and current social functioning. These results suggest that there is a relationship between adrenocortical function and disability in CFS, but do not reveal the causal connection.

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