Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis: neuropsychiatric aspects.

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Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis: neuropsychiatric aspects.

Compr Physiol. 2014 Apr;4(2):715-38

Authors: Jacobson L

Evidence of aberrant hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) activity in many psychiatric disorders, although not universal, has sparked long-standing interest in HPA hormones as biomarkers of disease or treatment response. HPA activity may be chronically elevated in melancholic depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. The HPA axis may be more reactive to stress in social anxiety disorder and autism spectrum disorders. In contrast, HPA activity is more likely to be low in PTSD and atypical depression. Antidepressants are widely considered to inhibit HPA activity, although inhibition is not unanimously reported in the literature. There is evidence, also uneven, that the mood stabilizers lithium and carbamazepine have the potential to augment HPA measures, while benzodiazepines, atypical antipsychotics, and to some extent, typical antipsychotics have the potential to inhibit HPA activity. Currently, the most reliable use of HPA measures in most disorders is to predict the likelihood of relapse, although changes in HPA activity have also been proposed to play a role in the clinical benefits of psychiatric treatments. Greater attention to patient heterogeneity and more consistent approaches to assessing treatment effects on HPA function may solidify the value of HPA measures in predicting treatment response or developing novel strategies to manage psychiatric disease.

PMID: 24715565 [PubMed - in process]