Plasma cortisol and 11-deoxycortisol were measured in 30 depressed patients and 110 normal volunteers before and after a 1.0 mg dexamethasone suppression test (DST). Post-dexamethasone plasma cortisol, 11-deoxycortisol and the cortisol/11-deoxycortisol ratio were significantly higher in the depressives compared to the controls, even when age and sex were taken into account. Predexamethasone plasma cortisol, post-dexamethasone cortisol, 11-deoxycortisol and their ratio were significantly higher in the cortisol nonsuppressors than in the suppressors. The measurement of post-dexamethasone 11-deoxycortisol and the ratio did not differentiate between endogenous and reactive depression. Using the normative data, we explored several methods for determining a criterion value to define abnormal post-dexamethasone plasma 11-deoxycortisol and the cortisol/11-deoxycortisol ratio in depressed patients. All showed poor sensitivity and a low positive predictive value for depression. The measurement of 11-deoxycortisol thus does not enhance the clinical utility of the DST.
PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD
DEXAMETHASONE SUPPRESSION TEST; CLINICAL UTILITY; AGE