The Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone system in patients with depression compared to controls -- a sleep endocrine study

Murck, Harald; Held, Katja; Ziegenbein, Marc; Künzel, Heike; Koch, Kathrin; Steiger, Axel
January 2003
BMC Psychiatry;2003, Vol. 3, p15
Academic Journal
Background: Hypercortisolism as a sign of hypothamamus-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis overactivity and sleep EEG changes are frequently observed in depression. Closely related to the HPA axis is the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) as 1. adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is a common stimulus for cortisol and aldosterone, 2. cortisol release is suppressed by mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) agonists 3. angiotensin II (ATII) releases CRH and vasopressin from the hypothalamus. Furthermore renin and aldosterone secretion are synchronized to the rapid eyed movement (REM)-nonREM cycle. Methods: Here we focus on the difference of sleep related activity of the RAAS between depressed patients and healthy controls. We studied the nocturnal plasma concentration of ACTH, cortisol, renin and aldosterone, and sleep EEG in 7 medication free patients with depression (1 male, 6 females, age: (mean +/-SD) 53.3 ± 14.4 yr.) and 7 age matched controls (2 males, 5 females, age: 54.7 ± 19.5 yr.). After one night of accommodation a polysomnography was performed between 23.00 h and 7.00 h. During examination nights blood samples were taken every 20 min between 23.00 h and 7.00 h. Area under the curve (AUC) for the hormones separated for the halves of the night (23.00 h to 3.00 h and 3.00 h to 7.00 h) were used for statistical analysis, with analysis of co variance being performed with age as a covariate. Results: No differences in ACTH and renin concentrations were found. For cortisol, a trend to an increase was found in the first half of the night in patients compared to controls (p < 0.06). Aldosterone was largely increased in the first (p < 0.05) and second (p < 0.01) half of the night. Cross correlations between hormone concentrations revealed that in contrast to earlier findings, which included only male subjects, in our primarily female sample, renin and aldosterone secretion were not coupled and no difference between patients and controls could be found, suggesting a gender difference in RAAS regulation. No difference in conventional sleep EEG parameters were found in our sample. Conclusion: Hyperaldosteronism could be a sensitive marker for depression. Further our findings point to an altered renal mineralocorticoid sensitivity in patients with depression.


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