Studies of the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenocortical System: An Example of Progress in Psychoneuroendocrinology

  • F. Holsboer
  • U. von Bardeleben
  • A. Gerken


Psychobiological study of affective disorders has passed through several phases during the last three decades. With the discovery of thymoleptic drugs and our partial understanding of their pharmacological properties, a dominant theme in psychiatric research came to be the pathophysiology underlying depressive illness. Since enhancement of monoamine neurotransmission was found to be a common characteristic of most antidepressants, several attempts were made to test the hypothesis of a defective cerebral monoamine transmission as the prime cause of depression. In this context, neuroendocrinology became an area that was of particular interest to investigators, for several reasons. Basic research has demonstrated that endocrine function is centrally regulated by the same transmitters and receptors that are implicated in the pathophysiology of depressive disorders and their biological treatment. Further, the progress of analytical chemistry has enabled investigators to assay minute hormone quantities in blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid. Only recently, numerous neuroendocrine tests of monoamine function in depression have been developed, which encompass studies involving the pituitary-adrenocortical axis, secretion of prolactin, gonadotropins, and release of growth hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone following probes with variable specificity.


Corticotropin Release Factor Dexamethasone Suppression Test ACTH Release BioI Psychiatry Dexamethasone Suppression Test Nonsuppression 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Holsboer
    • 1
  • U. von Bardeleben
    • 1
  • A. Gerken
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychiatrische Klinik der Universität MainzMainz 1Germany

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