Evidence of vasopressinergic-noradrenergic mechanisms in depression with above-normal plasma vasopressin concentration with and without psychotic features

J Psychopharmacol. 2011 Mar;25(3):345-52. doi: 10.1177/0269881109349839. Epub 2009 Nov 26.


Previous studies in the field of melancholic or endogenous depression have resulted in support for a subcategory of depression with above-normal plasma vasopressin (AVP) concentration (ANA). Since an analogous animal model with increased release of above-normal plasma vasopressin exhibits reduced Sympathetic-Nervous-System activity, the present study investigated the plasma norepinephrine concentration and the correlation between plasma norepinephrine and AVP in this ANA depression. As psychotic-melancholic patients may have increased plasma norepinephrine concentration, and noradrenergic activation may stimulate AVP release, potentially confounding effects of psychotic features were also investigated. The data set of the same depressed patient sample that was used before, but limited to those with complete hormonal data (n = 75), was re-analysed. ANA depression (n = 14) had negatively correlating AVP and norepinephrine concentrations. A very small subcategory of ANA depression with psychotic features (n = 3) had high plasma norepinephrine concentration, suggesting that this could be an independent subcategory. This was supported by the combination of relatively low above-normal plasma AVP concentrations with the highest severity scores for depression in this subcategory, which does not correspond with the positive correlation between AVP concentration and severity in non-psychotic ANA depression. The results further support the validity of ANA depression and the analogy with the High Anxiety Behaviour animal model of depression. Further investigations are needed to replicate these findings and to search for genetic and traumatic factors involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Arginine Vasopressin / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / blood
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / blood*
  • Psychotic Disorders / blood
  • Psychotic Disorders / etiology*
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Arginine Vasopressin
  • Norepinephrine