Monoamine oxidase and Cortisol response in depression and schizophrenia
The relationship between hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function and platelet monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity was examined in drug-free depressed (n = 32) and schizophrenic (n = 36) inpatients. HPA function was measured by determining plasma cortisol levels at 8:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. before, and 8:30 a.m., 4 p.m., and 11 p.m. after administration of 1 mg of dexamethasone (DEX). There was a significant correlation between platelet MAO activity and all post-DEX cortisol levels (8:30 a.m., 4 a.m., and 11 p.m.) in depressed patients, and MAO activity and pre-DEX cortisol levels (11 p.m.) in schizophrenic patients. MAO activity was significantly higher in depressed DST nonsuppressors than in suppressors, and there were more DST nonsuppressors in high-MAO groups as compared with low-MAO groups. Our results thus suggest a strong relationship between platelet MAO activity and HPA function in depressed patients. These biochemical markers are potentially useful in the identification of biochemically and clinically homogeneous subgroups of depressed patients.