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March 1980

Urinary 3-Methoxy-4-Hydroxyphenylglycol Circadian Rhythm: Early Timing (Phase-Advance) in Manic-Depressives Compared With Normal Subjects

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical Psychobiology Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md (Drs Wehr and Goodwin), and the Second Medical School, University of Naples, Italy (Dr Muscettola).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1980;37(3):257-263. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780160027002

• Twenty-four-hour (circadian) rhythms in urinary 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG) excretion, motor activity, and oral temperature were studied in 14 normal subjects and ten manic-depressive patients. In both groups, a daily rhythm in MHPG excretion was present, with daytime peaks and nighttime lows. This pattern of urinary MHPG excretion may reflect a rhythm in central noradrenergic function. The physiological changes in levels of MHPG excretion associated with the circadian rhythm were at least as great as pathological changes associated with manic-depressive illness. Compared with controls, the timing or phase of circadian rhythms in each variable was one to three hours earlier in the patients, whether depressed or manic. Although the presence of circadian rhythms complicates the task of designing clinical research procedures, their early timing in manic-depressives suggests that disturbances in central biological clocks may be an integral part of the pathophysiology of affective illness and may be related to disturbances of sleep and neuroendocrine function associated with depression.

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