Dopamine function in obsessive—compulsive disorder: Growth hormone response to apomorphine stimulation

  • Francesca Brambilla
    Address reprint requests to Prof. Francesca Brambilla. Centro di Psiconeuroendocrinologia, Dipartmento di Scienze Neuropsichiche, Istituto Scientifico Ospedale S. Raffaele, Via Prinetti 27, Milano 20129, Italy.
    Psychoneuroendocrine Center and Anxiety Disorders Clinical and Research Unit, Department of Neuropsychiatric Sciences, Istituto Scientifico H. San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
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  • Laura Bellodi
    Psychoneuroendocrine Center and Anxiety Disorders Clinical and Research Unit, Department of Neuropsychiatric Sciences, Istituto Scientifico H. San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
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  • Giampaolo Perna
    Psychoneuroendocrine Center and Anxiety Disorders Clinical and Research Unit, Department of Neuropsychiatric Sciences, Istituto Scientifico H. San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
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  • Cinzia Arancio
    Psychoneuroendocrine Center and Anxiety Disorders Clinical and Research Unit, Department of Neuropsychiatric Sciences, Istituto Scientifico H. San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
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  • Angelo Bertani
    Psychoneuroendocrine Center and Anxiety Disorders Clinical and Research Unit, Department of Neuropsychiatric Sciences, Istituto Scientifico H. San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
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      Indirect observations suggest that the dopaminergic system may be involved in the pathophysiology of obsessive—compulsive disorder (OCD). The dopaminergic function of 15 patients with OCD and 15 age/sex-matched controls was evaluated by measuring the growth hormone (GH) responses to stimulation with the dopaminergic agonist apomorphine (APO), which increases growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), GH, and somatomedine C (SMD-C) secretions. Therefore, we measured basal plasma GH and SMD-C concentrations and GH responses to GHRH stimulation to exclude that a downstream pathology of the somatotropic axis could obscure the significance of the results of the APO test. The response of prolactin (PRL) to APO inhibition were also measured. Basal plasma levels of GH, SMD-C, and PRL, GH responses to GHRH stimulation, and PRL responses to APO inhibition did not differ in the two groups of subjects. GH responses to APO stimulation were blunted in obsessive—compulsive (OC) patients. The emetic response to the same stimulation was stronger in patients than in controls. These responses suggest that in our OC patients there is a dysregulation of the dopaminergic system, which is possibly expressed in different ways in the various areas of the central nervous system.

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