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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004 Jul;174(3):414-20. Epub 2004 Jan 20.

Quetiapine reduces nocturnal urinary cortisol excretion in healthy subjects.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, von-Siebold Strasse 5, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.



Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction is a frequent finding in psychiatric disorders, including psychotic depression and schizophrenia. Conflicting results exist concerning the influence of antipsychotics on the HPA-axis.


Therefore, this double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized cross-over study investigated the effect of quetiapine on nocturnal urinary cortisol and melatonin excretion in 13 healthy male subjects under conditions of undisturbed and experimentally disturbed sleep.


Volunteers were studied 3 times for 3 consecutive nights (N0, adaptation; N1, standard sleep conditions; N2, acoustic stress) 4 days apart. Placebo, quetiapine 25 mg or quetiapine 100 mg was administered orally 1 h before bedtime on nights 1 and 2. Urine produced during the 8-h bedtime period was collected for later determination of cortisol and melatonin concentrations by standard radioimmunoassays.


MANOVA showed a significant effect for N1 vs. N2 with elevated total amount of cortisol ( p<0.005) and melatonin ( p<0.05) excretion after acoustic stress. Both quetiapine 25 mg and 100 mg significantly ( p<0.0005) reduced the total amount of cortisol excretion in comparison to placebo. No interaction effect of stress condition was observed. There was no effect of quetiapine on melatonin levels.


The significant reduction of nocturnal cortisol excretion following quetiapine reflects a decreased activity of the HPA-axis in healthy subjects. This finding may be an important aspect in quetiapine's mode of action in different patient populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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