Cerebrospinal fluid norepinephrine concentrations and dynamics in depressed patients and normal volunteers

Academic Article


  • Abnormalities in central nervous system (CNS) noradrenergic concentrations or dynamics have been postulated to occur in major depression, although direct measurements of norepinephrine concentrations in single samples of lumbar cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) have failed to find significant differences between depressed patients and normal or neurological controls. However, the study of CNS noradrenergic dynamics under physiologic conditions has not been achieved because of the technical limitations of lumbar puncture. In the present study, we used a serial sampling technique in order to longitudinally assess CSF norepinephrine concentrations in ten healthy volunteers and ten depressed patients, smokers as well as non‐smokers, while fasting and after the physiologic perturbation of eating. We continuously sampled CSF via indwelling subarachnoid catheters from 1100 to 1700 h and measured norepinephrine at 10 min intervals. A standardized mixed liquid meal was administered at 1300 h, breaking a 17 h fast. We found wide inter‐individual variability in CSF norepinephrine concentrations in both groups, but no difference in CSF norepinephrine concentration between depressed patients (1.20 ± 0.85 pmol/ml, mean ± SD) and normal subjects (1.07 ± 0.15 pmol/ml). Significant intra‐individual concentration variability over time was observed, which did not differ between healthy subjects and depressed patients. Hourly plasma norepinephrine concentrations were similar in normal volunteers and depressed patients. Mean plasma norepinephrine levels tended to correlate modestly with mean CSF norepinephrine concentrations. Body mass index was inversely correlated with CSF norepinephrine concentration but showed no significant relationship to plasma norepinephrine. Elevated CSF and plasma norepinephrine concentrations were, however, seen in depressed cigarette smokers compared to non‐smokers. A rise in CSF norepinephrine was observed during the experiment in all subjects combined, suggesting either a response to a meal or a normal circadian rhythm. These data indicate that CSF norepinephrine concentrations do not distinguish between depressed patients and normal volunteers. Depression 1:149–155 (1993). © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc. Copyright © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company
  • Published In

  • Depression  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 26991481
  • Author List

  • Geracioti TD; Schmidt D; Ekhator NN; Shelton R; Parris W; Loosen PT; Ebert MH
  • Start Page

  • 149
  • End Page

  • 155
  • Volume

  • 1
  • Issue

  • 3