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Effects of dexamethasone on neuroendocrine and psychological responses to L-tryptophan infusion

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard Porter, Professor Hamish McAllister-WilliamsORCiD, Professor Allan Young


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5-Hydroxytryptamine(1A) (5-HT(1A)) receptors have been shown to be suppressed by corticosteroid hormones in a variety of animal experimental paradigms. This effect may be central to the pathophysiology of severe clinical depressive illness, a condition in which 5-HT(1A) receptor function is reduced and corticosteroid hormones are elevated. Evidence suggests that the growth hormone (GH) response to L-tryptophan (L-TRP) is mediated by 5- HT(1A) receptors. This response hits been shown to be reduced following acute administration of hydrocortisone. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of acute administration of dexamethasone, in normal volunteers, on hormonal and psychological responses to L-TRP infusion. Methods: Sixteen healthy male volunteers took part in a random order, double blind study, in which 5 mg dexamethasone or placebo was administered 11 h before infusion of L-TRP. Results: Pretreatment with dexamethasone had no effect on the GH response to the infusion. However, baseline prolactin (PRL) was significantly reduced, as was the prolactin response to the infusion. Conclusions: These data contrast with a previous study using hydrocortisone in the same paradigm and demonstrate important functional differences between dexamethasone and hydrocortisone.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Porter RJ, McAllister-Williams RH, Jones S, Young AH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Psychopharmacology

Year: 1999

Volume: 143

Issue: 1

Pages: 64-71

Print publication date: 01/01/1999

ISSN (print): 0033-3158

ISSN (electronic): 1432-2072

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s002130050920

PubMed id: 10227081


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