Increased pituitary activation following metyrapone administration in post-traumatic stress disorder

Rachel Yehuda, Robert A. Levengood, James Schmeidler, Skye Wilson, Ling Song Guo, Douglas Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Our previous findings have demonstrated that individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) show lower basal cortisol levels, a larger number of lymphocyte glucocorticoid receptors, and an enhanced suppression of cortisol following the administration of dexamethasone compared to normals and patients with major depression. We have previously suggested that these alterations reflect an enhanced negative feedback inhibition of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in PTSD. However, in the absence of direct knowledge of pituitary capability in this disorder, it has been equally likely that the alterations observed reflected either pituitary or adrenal insufficiency. In the present study, we examined ACTH release from the pituitary gland in PTSD following the administration of metyrapone. Metyrapone resulted in a significantly greater increase of ACTH and 11-deoxycortisol in combat veterans with PTSD (n = 11) compared with normal male volunteers (n = 8). When seen in the context of other abnormalities observed in PTSD, the present demonstration of increased pituitary activity in the absence of negative feedback provides unequivocal support for the hypothesis of enhanced negative feedback.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996


  • Depression
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Metyrapone stimulation test
  • Negative feedback
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Stress


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