Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Dexamethasone Suppression Test

  • Brigitte M. KudielkaEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_11-2



Dexamethasone is a synthetic glucocorticoid and acts as a ligand of glucocorticoid receptors. The principle of the dexamethasone suppression test (DST) is based on this binding capability. Via receptor binding, dexamethasone exerts a negative feedback function on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (de Kloet et al. 1998). The HPA axis is a hierarchical hormonal system encompassing the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal cortex with their respective hormones CRH, ACTH, and cortisol. Beside its role in stress regulation, the HPA axis is vital for supporting normal physiological functioning. Its functioning is controlled by several negative feedback loops. Generally, the DST is applied as a standard diagnostic tool to assess feedback sensitivity of the HPA axis in clinical settings (e.g., in major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, etc.) as well as in...


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Dexamethasone Suppression Test Cortisol Suppression Feedback Sensitivity Pharmacological Provocation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Further Reading

  1. Bellingrath, S., Weigl, T., & Kudielka, B. M. (2008). Cortisol dysregulation in school teachers in relation to burnout, vital exhaustion, and effort-reward-imbalance. Biological Psychology, 78(1), 104–113.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Cole, M. A., Kim, P. J., Kalman, B. A., & Spencer, R. L. (2000). Dexamethasone suppression of corticosteroid secretion: Evaluation of the site of action by receptor measures and functional studies. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 25(2), 151–167.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. de Kloet, E. R., Vreugdenhil, E., Oitzl, M. S., & Joels, M. (1998). Brain corticosteroid receptor balance in health and disease. Endocrine Reviews, 19(3), 269–301.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Heuser, I., Yassouridis, A., & Holsboer, F. (1994). The combined dexamethasone/CRH test: A refined laboratory test for psychiatric disorders. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 28(4), 341–356.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Yehuda, R., Southwick, S. M., Krystal, J. H., Bremner, D., Charney, D. S., & Mason, J. W. (1993). Enhanced suppression of cortisol following dexamethasone administration in posttraumatic stress disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 150(1), 83–86.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Psychology, Psychological Diagnostics and Research MethodologyUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Urs M. Nater
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MarburgMarburgGermany