Diurnal rhythms of free estradiol and cortisol during the normal menstrual cycle in women with major depression.Horm Behav. 2004 Feb; 45(2):93-102.HB
To investigate whether depression is accompanied by changes in diurnal rhythms of free estradiol and cortisol in different phases of the menstrual cycle, we measured these two hormone levels in saliva samples collected every 2 h for 24 h from 15 healthy normally cycling women and 12 age-matched normally cycling women suffering from major depression taking antidepressants. The assessments were repeated four times over one menstrual cycle: during menstruation and in the late follicular/peri-ovulating, early to mid-luteal and late luteal phases, respectively. Quantification with a nonlinear periodic regression model revealed distinct diurnal rhythms in free estradiol and free cortisol in all subjects. For the diurnal cortisol rhythm, significant differences were found in the peak-width and ultradian amplitude among different menstrual phases, both in controls and depressed patients, while no significant differences were found between the two groups. The diurnal estradiol rhythm, on the other hand, was quite consistent among different menstrual phases within both groups, while the depressed patients had overall larger amplitudes than controls, which is negatively correlated with disease duration. Significant positive correlations between the two hormone rhythms were found for 24-h mean level (mesor), peak, and trough in late luteal phase, and for ultradian harmonics in early to mid-luteal phase in controls, but only for ultradian harmonics in late follicular/peri-ovulating phase and for acrophase in the menstruation phase in depressed patients. A sub-analysis was also performed in patients who received Fluoxetine (n = 7). The findings implicate a close correlation between the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, both of which may be involved in depression.