Psychological Medicine

Brief Communication

Further neuroendocrine evidence of enhanced vasopressin V3 receptor responses in melancholic depression

T. G. DINAN a1c1, S. O'BRIEN a1, E. LAVELLE a1 and L. V. SCOTT a1
a1 Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and Department of Psychiatry, University College Cork; and St Ita's Hospital, Portrane, Dublin, Ireland

Article author query
dinan t   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
o'brien s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
lavelle e   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
scott l   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Background. In situations of chronic stress vasopressin plays an important role in regulating the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. The aim of the current study was to investigate the role of anterior pituitary vasopressin V3 receptors in maintaining the hypercortisolism seen in melancholic depression.

Method. Fourteen patients with major depression and 14 age- and sex-matched healthy comparison subjects were recruited. Desmopressin (ddAVP) 10 μg was given intravenously and ACTH and cortisol release was monitored for 120 min.

Results. The mean±S.E.M. ACTH response in the depressives was 28·4±4·3 ng/l and in the healthy subjects was 18·8±4·9 ng/l (P=0·04). The mean±S.E.M. cortisol response in the depressives was 261·8±46·5 nmol/l and in the healthy subjects was 107·3±26·1 nmol/l (P<0·01).

Conclusions. Patients with major depression have augmented ACTH and cortisol responses to desmopressin indicating enhanced V3 responsivity.

(Published Online January 14 2004)

c1 Professor T. G. Dinan, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Clinical Sciences Building, Cork University Hospital, Wilton, Cork, Ireland.

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