Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College Medical School, St. James’ Hospital, 8, Dublin, Ireland.
[Medline record in process]
Abnormalities of the production of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), the adrenal androgen, have been linked with disorders such as obesity and psychological disorders such as major depression.
Adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) is the primary stimulant of DHEA, and cortisol, from the adrenal. We chose to examine the DHEA and DHEA/cortisol response to the novel low-dose ACTH test in healthy subjects and a cohort with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): this test is useful in assessing subtle irregularities of pituitary-adrenal activity.
Nineteen CFS subjects (diagnosed by CDC criteria) and 10 healthy subjects were examined. We demonstrated that 1 &mgr;g ACTH significantly elevates DHEA levels, with no difference in output between CFS and healthy subjects. The DHEA/cortisol ratio decreased in response to ACTH stimulation in healthy subjects but not in the CFS cohort. We suggest this divergence of response between the two groups represents an imbalance in the relative synthetic pathways of the CFS group which, if present chronically and if comparable to daily stressors, may manifest itself as an inappropriate response to stress. This difference may be important in either the genesis or propagation of the syndrome.
PMID: 11104854, UI: 20558626
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