Corticotropin-releasing hormone mRNA levels in the paraventricular nucleus of patients with Alzheimer's disease and depression

Am J Psychiatry. 1995 Sep;152(9):1372-6. doi: 10.1176/ajp.152.9.1372.


Objective: Greater activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is associated with specific neurological and psychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and depression. Hyperactivation of paraventricular corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) neurons may form the basis of this increased activity of the HPA axis.

Method: Activation of the CRH neurons was determined through measurement of the amount of CRH-mRNA in the paraventricular nucleus by using quantitative, in situ hybridization histochemistry with systematically sampled frontal sections through the hypothalamus of routinely formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded autopsy brain material of 10 comparison subjects, 10 patients with Alzheimer's disease, and seven depressed patients.

Results: CRH-mRNA levels in the paraventricular nucleus of Alzheimer's patients were markedly higher than those of comparison subjects, whereas CRH-mRNA levels in the paraventricular nucleus of depressed patients were even higher than the levels of Alzheimer's patients.

Conclusions: Paraventricular CRH neurons in Alzheimer's disease and depression are hyperactivated, and this hyperactivation may contribute to the etiology of these disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / analysis*
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / biosynthesis
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder / metabolism
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / chemistry*
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / cytology
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone