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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Corticotropin releasing hormone in the pathophysiology of melancholic and atypical depression and in the mechanism of action of antidepressant drugs.

Hypercortisolism in depression seems to preferentially reflect activation of hypothalamic CRH secretion. Although it has been postulated that this hypercortisolism is an epiphenomenon of the pain and stress of major depression, our data showing preferential participation of AVP in the hypercortisolism of chronic inflammatory disease suggest specificity for the pathophysiology of hypercortisolism in depression. Our findings that imipramine causes a down-regulation of the HPA axis in experimental animals and healthy controls support an intrinsic role for CRH in the pathophysiology of melancholia and in the mechanism of action of psychotropic agents. Our data suggest that hypercortisolism is not the only form of HPA dysregulation in major depression. In a series of studies, commencing in patients with Cushing's disease, and extending to hyperimmune fatigue states such as chronic fatigue syndrome and examples of atypical depression such as seasonal affective disorder, we have advanced data suggesting hypofunction of hypothalamic CRH neurons. These data raise the question that the hyperphagia, hypersomnia, and fatigue associated with syndromes of atypical depression could reflect a central deficiency of a potent arousal-producing anorexogenic neuropeptide. In the light of data presented elsewhere in this symposium regarding the role of a hypofunctioning hypothalamic CRH neuron in susceptibility to inflammatory disease, these data also raise the question of a common pathophysiological mechanism in syndromes associated both with inflammatory manifestations and atypical depressive symptoms. This concept of hypofunctioning of hypothalamic CRH neurons in these disorders also raises the question of novel forms of neuropharmacological intervention in both inflammatory diseases and atypical depressive syndromes.[1]


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