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June 1988

Reduced Corticotropin Releasing Factor Binding Sites in the Frontal Cortex of Suicide Victims

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Nemeroff and Bissette) and Pharmacology (Mr Owens), Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC; the Department of Psychiatry, Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (Dr Andorn); and the Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York (Dr Stanley).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988;45(6):577-579. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1988.01800300075009

• Previous studies have provided evidence that corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) is hypersecreted in patients with major depression. This CRF hypersecretion is believed to contribute at least in part to hyperactivity of the hypothalamicpituitary-adrenal axis in depressed patients. If CRF is chronically hypersecreted in depressed patients, then, due to downregulation, a reduced number of CRF receptor binding sites should be present in patients with profound depressive disorder. To test this hypothesis, we measured the number and affinity of CRF binding sites in the frontal cortex of 26 suicide victims and 29 controls who died of a variety of causes. There was a marked (23%) reduction in the number of CRF binding sites in the frontal cortex of the suicide victims compared with the controls. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that CRF is hypersecreted in depression.

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