Concentrations of 3α-reduced neuroactive steroids and their precursors in plasma of patients with major depression and after clinical recovery

Andreas Ströhle, Elena Romeo, Bettina Hermann, Augusto Pasini, Gianfranco Spalletta, Flavia Di Michele, Florian Holsboer, Rainer Rupprecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: There is preclinical and clinical evidence that plasma concentrations of 3α-hydroxy-5α-pregnan-20-one (3α, 5α- tetrahydroprogesterone; 3α,5α-THP), a neuroactive steroid that is a positive allosteric modulator of the GABA(A) receptor, are altered in depression and normalize as a result of antidepressant treatment. However, no data are available on the concentrations of 3α, 21-dihydroxy-5α-pregnan- 20-one (3α,5α-tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone; 3α,5α-THDOC), another GABA ergic neuroactive steroid, in depression. Methods: We studied nine depressed patients before and after treatment with various antidepressants and compared them to healthy matched control subjects. Blood samples were quantified by means of a highly sensitive combined gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis. Results: Compared to control subjects, plasma concentrations of 3α,5α-THDOC and its precursor 5α-dihydrodeoxycorticosterone (5α-DHDOC) were increased in depressed patients and were not significantly influenced by antidepressant treatment. However, 3α,5α-THP plasma concentrations were decreased in depression and clinically effective antidepressant treatment was accompanied by an increase of 3α,5α-THP concentrations in these patients. Conclusions: Our results provide the first evidence for a differential alteration in the plasma concentrations of the 3α-reduced neuroactive steroids 3α,5α-THDOC and 3α,5α-THP in major depression, which is only partially reversed by successful antidepressant treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-277
Number of pages4
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 1999

Keywords

  • Antidepressants
  • Depression
  • Neuroactive steroids
  • Neurosteroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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