Differences in adrenal steroid profile in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), in depression & in health

BACKGROUND: Hyperactivity and hypoactivity of the HPA have been

forwarded as of pathophysiological relevance in major

depressive disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS),


METHODS: This study examines cortisol levels in

the two disorders, and also assesses levels of the adrenal

androgens, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulphate

derivative (DHEA-S), and 17-alpha-hydroxyprogesterone; 15

subjects with CFS diagnosed according to CDC criteria, 15

subjects with DSM III-R major depression and 11 healthy

subjects were compared.

RESULTS: DHEA and DHEA-S levels were

significantly lower in the CFS compared to the healthy group;

DHEA-S levels, but not DHEA, were lower in the depressives;

cortisol and 17-alpha-hydroxyprogesterone did not differ

between the three groups.

CONCLUSIONS: A potential role for

DHEA, both therapeutically and as a diagnostic tool, in CFS,

is suggested.

Scott LV, Salahuddin F, Cooney J, Svec F, Dinan TG

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