In order to evaluate the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT)-axis in unipolar depression, the authors measured basal 0800h plasma levels of free thyroxine (FT4), free triiodothyronine (FT3), and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) by means of the new, ultrasensitive assays (TSH-IRMA) in 69 healthy controls, 62 minor, 101 simple major, and 57 melancholic depressed subjects. Basal HPT-axis hormone levels of almost all (96.8%) unipolar depressed patients fell within the normal, euthyroid range. None of the major depressed subjects showed subclinical hypothyroidism. It was found that 8.8% of the melancholic subjects exhibited some degree of subclinical hyperthyroidism. Basal TSH-IRMA values were significantly lower in melancholic patients than in healthy controls, minor and simple major depressed patients, and in major vs. minor depressed subjects. FT4 circulating levels were significantly higher in melancholic patients than in all other subjects. Basal TSH-IRMA and FT4 levels were significantly correlated with severity of illness. In depression, there was a significant and negative correlation between basal TSH-IRMA values and FT4 concentrations. No significant gender- or age-related differences in TSH-IRMA or thyroid hormones were detected in depression. It is argued that-in depression research-the assays of basal TSH-IRMA should replace thyrotropin releasing hormone tests.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry