Dexamethasone increases plasma HVA but not MHPG in normal humans

Owen M. Wolkowitz, Mary E. Sutton, Allen R. Doran, Rodrigo Labarca, Alec Roy, John W. Thomas, David Pickar, Steven M. Paul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Several recent studies in animals and man indicate that corticosteroids may alter catecholaminergic activity in both the peripheral and central nervous systems. We administered 1 mg of the synthetic glucocorticoid, dexamethasone, to 12 drug-free healthy volunteers and measured plasma homovanillic acid (HVA) and 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG). Dexamethasone was administered at 11 p.m. and blood was collected at 4 p.m. on the preceding and subsequent days. Dexamethasone administration resulted in a significant increase in plasma HVA but did not consistently affect MHPG. All subjects showed a suppression of serum cortisol to values < 5 μg/d1 while prolactin levels were unaltered. In an additional group of nine volunteers, we administered 2 mg of dexamethasone and observed a similar increase in plasma HVA without change in plasma MHPG, indicating a selective effect on dopamine metabolism. Implications of these findings for an understanding of the neurochemical and behavioral changes seen with steroid administration and in explaining previous results on plasma MHPG/HVA ratios in delusional depression are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1985


  • 3-methoxy-4- hydroxyphenylglycol
  • Corticosteroids
  • dexamethasone
  • homovanillic acid
  • prolactin


Dive into the research topics of 'Dexamethasone increases plasma HVA but not MHPG in normal humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this