Decreased dopamine beta-hydroxylase activity in unipolar geriatric delusional depression

Barnett S. Meyers, George S. Alexopoulos, Tatsu Kakuma, Fughik Tirumalasetti, Michelle Gabriele, Stephanie Alpert, Charles Bowden, Herbert Y. Meltzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Background: Decreased dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DBH) activity has been reported in unipolar psychotic depression. DBH comparisons between elderly delusional and nondelusional depressives and controls and determination of whether pretreatment group differences persist have not been reported. Our objective was to compare DBH activity in elderly delusional major depressives with that of nondelusional depressives and normal control subjects before and after hospital treatment. Methods: Enzyme activity was assessed after hospital admission. A subsample had predischarge assessments. Treatment was not controlled but accounted for in analyses. Electroconvulsive therapy subjects were medication-free for posttreatment assays. Results: Baseline and predischarge DBH assays were lower in subjects with delusional depression than in either comparison group. Despite high intraindividual correlation, treatment was associated with significant increases in activity in the clinical groups. Conclusions: Patients with late-life delusional depression have lower DBH activity before and after hospital treatment than age-matched nondelusional patients or normal controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-452
Number of pages5
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 1999


  • Delusional depression
  • Dopamine beta-hydroxylase
  • Geriatric
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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