Adrenal Gland Enlargement in Major Depression: A Computed Tomographic Study

Charles B. Nemeroff, K. Ranga R. Krishnan, Deborah Reed, Richard Leder, Craig Beam, N. Reed Dunnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

229 Scopus citations

Abstract

To determine whether the well-documented hyperactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in depressed patients includes adrenal gland hypertrophy, adrenal gland size was evaluated by computed tomography. Assessments consisted of (1) global ratings by two radiologists ignorant of the diagnostic identity of the subjects and (2) calculation of adrenal volume. Of the 38 patients with major depression, 12 were rated as exhibiting adrenal hypertrophy. Adrenal volumes in the depressed patients were significantly increased when compared with those of normal controls. Adrenal gland size was not correlated with dexamethasone suppression test results, patient age, duration of the depressive episode, or depression severity. These results are concordant with the hypothesis that chronic corticotropin hypersecretion in depression results in adrenocortical hypertrophy. Adrenal gland enlargement may be a measure of cumulative lifetime depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-387
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of General Psychiatry
Volume49
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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