Peripheral hormonal responses to D-fenfluramine as a probe of central serotonergic function in humans

Kathryn M. Abel, Anthony J. Cleare

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We tested the hypothesis that D-fenfluramine (DFEN)-elicited cortisol (CORT) release in humans may be mediated by a direct effect on the adrenal gland by pretreating subjects with dexamethasone (DEX), to prevent release of ACTH from the pituitary, followed by a DFEN challenge test. Eight healthy subjects (four males; four female) (mean age = 38.1 ± 8.4 years (SD)] were studied > 1 week apart (same phase of menstrual cycle) and testing order was randomised. On the with-DEX day (DEX+), subjects took 2 mg DEX orally at 10 p.m.; 30 mg DFEN was then given orally at 9 a.m. and samples were taken at 0 5 h for PRL and CORT. Peak hormone responses (Λ values) were calculated by subtracting baseline values from the maximum levels post-DFEN administration. Peak and baseline hormonal values were compared between the two test conditions; DFEN-induced CORT and PRL responses were compared across all time points, with and without DEX. There was no significant difference in ΛPRL between the two test conditions (DEX - and DEX+), but CORT values were significantly reduced after DEX: mean Λ CORT DEX- = 68.4 ± 26.3 nmol/l; DEX+ = 0.0 nmol/l (all blunted) (elf 7.1; P = 0.03). The completely blunted peripheral cortisol response indicates that DFEN cortisol responses are of central origin only.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)68-72
    Number of pages4
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


    • 5HT
    • Cortisol
    • Dexamethasone
    • Neuroendocrine
    • Serotonin


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