Dexamethasone effects on cortisol secretion in Alzheimer's disease: Some clinical and hormonal features in suppressor and nonsuppressor patients

G. Murialdo, A. Barreca, F. Nobili, A. Rollero, G. Timossi, M. V. Gianelli, F. Copello, G. Rodriguez, A. Polleri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA) and failure of dexamethasone (DXT) to suppress cortisol secretion occur in Alzheimer's disease (AD). This study was aimed to settle possible differences in some clinical (age, body weight, body mass index, dementia severity) and hormonal parameters in AD patients non-responders to overnight 1 mg-DXT suppression test compared with the responder subjects. ACTH, cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) day-time levels were assessed in 25 AD patients and in 12 age-matched healthy controls before DXT administration. In view of their neuroprotective effects, plasma levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor-I (IGF-I) and of IGF-Binding Proteins (IGFBPs) were also determined. After DXT, 8 AD subjects (32%) showed cortisol levels above the conventional cut-off of 140 nmol/L. No significant differences were found in clinical parameters in suppressor vs nonsuppressor patients. AD subjects showed higher cortisol, cortisol/DHEAS ratios, and lower DHEAS levels in comparison with controls. Both ACTH and cortisol levels were not different in suppressor and nonsuppressor patients, but DHEAS levels were significantly lower in nonsuppressor cases, who also exhibited ACTH and cortisol periodicities more altered than in suppressor and in control subjects. IGF-I and IGFBP-3 levels were lower and those of IGFBP-1 higher in nonsuppressor than in suppressor cases and in healthy controls. IGF-I/IGFBPs system data were correlated with cognitive impairment and adrenal steroid levels in AD patients. (C)2000, Editrice Kurtis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-186
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cortisol
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate
  • Dexamethasone suppression test
  • Insulin-like growth factor-binding proteins
  • Insulin-like growth factor-I
  • Pituitary-adrenal axis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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