Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an effective treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but its mechanism of action is largely unknown. Since DBS may induce rapid symptomatic changes and the pathophysiology of OCD has been linked to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, we set out to study whether DBS affects the HPA axis in OCD patients. We compared a stimulation ON and OFF condition with a one-week interval in 16 therapy-refractory OCD patients, treated with DBS for at least one year, targeted at the nucleus accumbens (NAc). We measured changes in 24-h urinary excretion of free cortisol (UFC), adrenaline and noradrenaline and changes in obsessive-compulsive (Y-BOCS), depressive (HAM-D) and anxiety (HAM-A) symptom scores. Median UFC levels increased with 53% in the OFF condition (from 93 to 143. nmol/24. h, p= 0.12). There were no changes in urinary adrenaline or noradrenaline excretion. The increase in Y-BOCS (39%), and HAM-D (78%) scores correlated strongly with increased UFC levels in the OFF condition. Our findings indicate that symptom changes following DBS for OCD patients are associated with changes in UFC levels.
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS)
- Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)