Day-time plasma beta-endorphin/beta-lipotrophic hormone (beta-ENDO/beta-LPH), ACTH and cortisol have been determined in 26 patients with major depression and 25 controls. beta-ENDO/beta-LPH and cortisol were significantly elevated in patients, while ACTH was not. Cortisol levels were significantly negatively correlated with age in controls as were beta-ENDO/beta-LPH and ACTH. In patients, by contrast, cortisol levels were positively, albeit not significantly, related to age. Peptide levels were not related to age in the patient group. Instead, beta-ENDO/beta-LPH was negatively correlated with clinical ratings of symptom severity in patients and positively associated with an acute psychosocial precipitant. The findings cast further light on beta-ENDO/beta-LPH as a measure of hypothalamic-pituitary over activity in depressive illness. A negative association with symptom severity suggests that beta-ENDO/beta-LPH responses are, like those of ACTH, down-regulated in the course of depressive illness.

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Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date





281 - 289


Adrenocorticotropic Hormone, Adult, Aged, Depressive Disorder, Female, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System, Male, Middle Aged, Personality Inventory, Pituitary-Adrenal System, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, beta-Endorphin, beta-Lipotropin