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Effect of aspirin on hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal function and on neuropsychological performance in healthy adults: a pilot study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stuart Watson, Kate Horton, Dr Peter GallagherORCiD, Emeritus Professor Nicol Ferrier



Rationale Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis dysregulation predicts poor clinical and biochemical response to antidepressants. Antiglucocorticoids have therapeutic benefits but most have a troublesome adverse event profile. Aspects of neuropsychological performance, notably working memory, are susceptible to corticosteroid modulation and are impaired in depression. Aspirin has been shown to attenuate the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol response to physiological challenge suggesting its potential to act as an augmenting agent in depression. Objectives To examine the effect of sub-acute (300 mg daily for 7 days) aspirin pre-treatment on the cortisol awakening response and the effect of acute (600 mg) and sub-acute aspirin on the neuroendocrine and neuropsychological response to the arginine vasopressin analogue, desmopressin. Results We demonstrated that aspirin pre-treatment did not attenuate the cortisol or ACTH response to desmopressin but, as hypothesised, significantly reduced the cortisol awakening response and improved working memory. Conclusions Further studies to examine the impact of aspirin on neuropsychological performance and HPA axis function are warranted.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Watson S, Horton K, Bulmer S, Carlile J, Corcoran C, Gallagher P, Ferrier IN

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Psychopharmacology

Year: 2009

Volume: 205

Issue: 1

Pages: 151-155

Date deposited: 23/03/2010

ISSN (print): 0033-3158

ISSN (electronic): 1432-2072

Publisher: Springer Berlin


DOI: 10.1007/s00213-009-1525-4

PubMed id: 19404617


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