ABSTRACT: Dynamic testing of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in schizophrenia has yielded conflicting results, which may be related to patient selection and previous exposure to psychotropic medication. The objective of this study was to determine the pattern of corticotropin (ACTH) and cortisol release in response to metoclopramide (a dopamine antagonist), which appears to be unique in its ability to release vasopressin (AVP), in drug naive patients with schizophrenia experiencing their first episode of psychosis. In this study, we examined AVP, ACTH and cortisol release in response to metoclopramide in 10 drug-naive, first-episode male patients with a DSM IV diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and compared them to healthy control subjects matched for age, sex and smoking status. Patients, as compared to controls had higher levels of baseline plasma cortisol (375.5+/-47.4/l vs. 273.8+/-42.2 nmol/l, respectively; t=2.48, df=9, p< 0.02) and plasma ACTH (14.9+/-0.85 vs. 11.3+/-0.57 pg/ml, respectively; t=4.29, df=9, p<0.001). AVP levels were lower in patients though this did not reach statistical significance (0.89+/-0.09 vs. 1.3+/-0.08 pmol/l, respectively; t=1.97, df=9, p<0.07). A repeated measures 2-way ANOVA to compare responses to metoclopramide over time between the two groups yielded a significant group by time interaction for cortisol (F=11.3, df=6, 108, p<0.001) and ACTH (F=15.65, df=6, 108, p<0.002). Post hoc Tukey's test revealed significant differences between the two groups at +30, +45, +60, +90 and +120 min for cortisol (p<0.01) and at +30, +45, +60 and +90 min for ACTH (p<0.01). The group by time interactions continued to remain significant when cortisol (F=10.9, df=6, 107, p<0.001) and ACTH (F=13.04, df=6, 108, p<0.002) were entered as co-variates. There was a significant positive correlation between AVP and cortisol responses in patients (r=0.65, df=8, p<0.01). Male patients with paranoid schizophrenia release greater amounts of ACTH and cortisol in responses to metoclopramide-induced AVP secretion than control subjects.
Psychoneuroendocrinology 06/2005; 30(5):431-7. · 5.81 Impact Factor