Discrimination between patients with melancholic depression and healthy controls: comparison between 24-h cortisol profiles, the DST and the Dex/CRH test.Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2011 Jun; 36(5):691-8.P
Diurnal (24-h) cortisol profiles were compared to DST and Dex/CRH test outcomes with regard to their discriminative power in depressive disorder. With regard to several statistical measures (effect sizes, area under the curve) we found 24-h cortisol profiles to better discriminate between healthy controls and inpatients with the melancholic subtype of depression compared to the DST and Dex/CRH test. In search of a shortened time interval we found the 2-h time window 1000-1200 h of the cortisol profile to be the one with the highest sensitivity (83.3%) and specificity (87.9%). The specificity of the DST was 93.3% and somewhat higher than that of the cortisol profiles and the Dex/CRH test (87.9% and 78.8.%, respectively). However, the sensitivity of the DST was very low (30.8%), in fact similar to that of the Dex/CRH test (30.8%), but much lower than that of the 1000-1200 h interval (83.3%). The assessment of cortisol in plasma is an easy to perform, cost-saving method for the evaluation of the HPA system activity, which may have a series of clinical and scientific implications for the depressive disorder.