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Testosterone, Gonadotropin, and Cortisol Secretion in Male Patients With Major Depression

Schweiger, Ulrich MD; Deuschle, Michael MD; Weber, Bettina MD; Korner, Andreas MD; Lammers, Claas-Hinrich MD; Schmider, Jurgen MD; Gotthardt, Ulrike MD; Heuser, Isabella MD

Original Articles

Objective Previous studies of sex hormone concentrations in depression yielded inconsistent results. However, the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system seen in depression may negatively affect gonadal function at every level of regulation. The objective of this study was to explore whether major depressive episodes are indeed associated with an alteration of gonadal function.

Methods Testosterone, pulsatile LH secretion, FSH, and cortisol were assessed using frequent sampling during a 24-hour period in 15 male inpatients with major depression of moderate to high severity and in 22 healthy comparison subjects (age range 22-85 years).

Results An analysis of covariance model showed that after adjustment for age only, daytime testosterone (p < .01), nighttime testosterone (p < .05), and 24-hour mean testosterone secretion (p < .01) were significantly lower in the depressed male inpatients. There was also a trend for a decreased LH pulse frequency in the depressed patients (p < .08).

Conclusions Gonadal function may be disturbed in men with a depressive episode of moderate to high severity.

From the Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry, Clinical Institute, Munich, Germany.

Address reprint requests to: Ulrich Schweiger, MD, Klinik fur Psychiatrie, Medizinische Universitat zu Lubeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, D-23538 Lubeck, Germany. Email:

Received for publication January 22, 1998; revision received November 3, 1998.

Copyright © 1999 by American Psychosomatic Society
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