Muscarinic Supersensitivity of Anterior Pituitary Acth and β-Endorphin Release in Major Depressive Illness

  • S. C. Risch
  • D. S. Janowsky
  • J. C. Gillin
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 30)


Studies from a number of centers have suggested that there may be an “up-regulation” or supersensitivity of muscarinic cholinergic receptor function in major depressive illness. We have previously demonstrated that major affective disorder patients may be behaviorally supersensitive to the dysphoric-inhibitory effects of centrally active cholinesterase inhibitors (18). In addition, Sitaram, Gillin and co-workers (22) have reported that early rapid eye movement (REM) latency, a major biological marker for depressive illness, may reflect muscarinic supersensitivity of the REM axis in sleep. Janowsky and co-workers (10) have recently reported that affective disorder patients may also have an increased sensitivity to the cardiovascular effects of centrally active cholinergic agents. Finally, Nadi and co-workers (13) have recently reported an increased number of muscarinic receptors on fibroblasts in patients with major depressive illness, which may possibly be a genetically transferrable trait marker for depressive illness. Consequently, a number of investigations have implicated muscarinic supersentitivity in major depressive illness.


Cortisol Concentration Schizoaffective Disorder Plasma ACTH Depressive Illness Research Diagnostic Criterion 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. C. Risch
    • 1
  • D. S. Janowsky
    • 1
  • J. C. Gillin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, M-003University of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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