It has been hypothesized that abnormal negative feedback of cortisol release in major depressive disorder (MDD) may involve impaired central glucocorticoid receptor (GR) function. Beclomethasone-induced vasoconstriction (BIV) was recently used to test the hypothesis that impaired GR function generalizes to peripheral tissues, and it was reported that BIV was decreased in medicated patients with MDD. The objective was to test the hypothesis that BIV would be reduced in unmedicated women with MDD compared with healthy controls.
A university womens' mental health research unit.
Women aged 18–65 years (n = 19) diagnosed, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, with MDD after a structured interview and clinical assessment. Healthy women pair-matched for age, reproductive and smoking status.
BIV was tested using a range of beclomethasone dipropionate concentrations (1–100 μg/mL) applied to the forearm, with vasoconstriction scored visually after 15–18 hours by raters blinded to diagnosis and the randomization of the application sites.
Visual scores for BIV at each beclomethasone concentration.
No significant differences between patients with MDD and controls were found. Postmenopausal women showed less of a response than premenopausal women or women taking sex-hormone preparations.
The study did not concur with the previous finding that BIV is decreased in MDD. Further research is needed to determine whether the difference in findings is due to medication or to other factors that may have distinguished the samples, including sex, age, reproductive status, illness severity, treatment resistance and setting.