OBJECTIVE: Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and somatostatin both
play important roles in mediating responses to acute and chronic stress.
The purpose of this study was to measure CSF concentrations of CRF and
somatostatin in patients with chronic combat-related post- traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) and comparison subjects. METHOD: Lumbar punctures for
collection of CSF were performed in Vietnam combat veterans with PTSD (N =
11) and comparison subjects (N = 17). CSF concentrations of CRF and
somatostatin were compared between the two groups. RESULTS: CSF
concentrations of CRF were higher in the PTSD patients than in the
comparison subjects (mean = 29.0 pg/ml, SD = 7.8, versus mean = 21.9 pg/ml,
SD = 6.0). This group difference remained significant after covariance for
age. CSF somatostatin concentrations in PTSD patients were higher than
those of the comparison subjects (mean = 19.9 pg/ml, SD = 5.4, versus mean
= 13.7 pg/ml, SD = 8.0). However, covarying for age reduced the level of
significance. CONCLUSIONS: Higher CSF CRF concentrations in patients with
PTSD may reflect alterations in stress-related neurotransmitter systems.
The higher CSF CRF concentrations may play a role in disturbances of
arousal in patients with PTSD.