We used the technique of continuous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sampling to test the following hypotheses regarding CNS monoaminergic systems in depression:(1) absolute concentrations of the informational substances tryptophan and 5‐hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5‐HIAA) are altered in the CNS of depressed patients (2) abnormal rhythms of tryptophan and/or 5‐HIAA, or defective conversion of tryptophan to serotonin (5HT), exist in the CNS of depressed patients, and (3) the relationship between the CNS 5HT and norepinephrine (NE) systems is disrupted in depressed patients. We obtained 6‐h concentration time series of tryptophan, 5‐HIAA, NE, and 3‐methoxy‐4‐hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG) in the CSF of 10 patients with major depression and in 10 normal volunteers. No significant differences in CSF tryptophan, 5‐HIAA, NE, or MHPG concentrations or rhythms were observed between normal volunteers and depressed patients. Neither were there differences in the mean tryptophan‐to‐serotonin ratio. However, a negative linear relationship was observed between mean concentrations of 5‐HIAA and NE in the CSF of the normal volunteers (r = 0.916 (r2 = 0.839), df = 9, P < 0.001) while, in contrast, depressed patients showed no such relationship (r = +0.094 (r2 = 0.00877), df = 9, n.s.). Furthermore, the correlation coefficients expressing the relationship between CSF MHPG and CSF 5‐HIAA within the normal and depressed groups were significantly different. These data support the hypothesis that a disturbance in the interaction between the serotonergic and noradrenergic systems can exist in depressive illness in the absence of any simple 5HT or NE deficit or surplus. Depression and Anxiety 6:89–94, 1997.© 1997 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
Depression and Anxiety – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 1997
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