Abnormalities in the regulation of vasopressin and corticotropin releasing factor secretion in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In light of prior data that the central administration of vasopressin in animals is associated with abnormal persistence of behaviors acquired under aversive conditioning, we studied the secretion of arginine vasopressin into the cerebrospinal fluid and plasma in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder and controls. Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder had significantly elevated basal levels of arginine vasopressin in the cerebrospinal fluid and significantly increased secretion of arginine vasopressin into the plasma in response to hypertonic saline administration. Moreover, seven of 12 patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder showed a loss of the normal linear relationship between plasma arginine vasopressin level and osmolality. In addition, cerebrospinal fluid corticotropin releasing hormone, which has synergistic effects with arginine vasopressin centrally and at the pituitary gland, was also significantly elevated in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder compared with controls.