SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.49 issue4Myasthenia gravis: surgical x conservative treatmentUse of MMPI on the assessment of the chronic pain syndrome patients author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria

Print version ISSN 0004-282X

Arq. Neuro-Psiquiatr. vol.49 no.4 São Paulo Dec. 1991 



Biochemical correlate of depression in children


Correlatos bioquímicos da depressão em crianças.



E.A. QueirozI, II; A. B. Lombardi II, III; C.R.H. Santos FurtadoII; C. C. D. PeixotoII; T. A. SoaresII; Z. L.FabreII; J. C. BasquesIV; M. L. M. FernandesV; J. R. S. LippiVI

IDepartment of Pharmacology of ICB; Research Center, Neuropsyciatry Laboratory, Medicine School, Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)
IIStudent, Interdisciplinary Course of Specialization in Children and Adolescence Psychology and Psychiatry (CIEPSIA)
IIIDepartment of Pediatrics, Medicine School, UFMG
IVLaboratory Doctor
VDepartment of Statistics, ICEx, UFMG
VIDepartment of Psychiatry, Medicine School, UFMG; CIEPSIA and research coordinator. CNPq grant 40.5437/84.




The degree of depression in 88 abandoned children was analysed through a depression rating scale adapted to prepubertal children. The items were grouped into three dimensions: sociological-relational, psychological and biological. In 46 children from this sample it was dosed plasmatic Cortisol and the urinary excretion of catecholamine, VMA, HVA and 5-HIAA. When analysing the principal components, the sociological and psychological dimensions were the most important ones in the sample, followed by age and catecholamine variables. The group of male depressed children presented a higher level of catecholamine urinary excretion and a lower peak of plasmatic Cortisol than the non-depressed group. The variable age, in both sexes, was correlated with the biochemical variable catecholamine. Biochemical alterations are present in depressed children but it is difficult to show a correlation of dependence between them and the phenomenological aspects of depression.


O grau de depressão em 88 crianças abandonadas foi analisado por escala de avaliação de depressão adaptada para crianças na pré-puberdade. Os itens da escala foram agrupados em três dimensões: sociológico-relacional, psicológica e biológica. Em 46 crianças desta amostra foram dosados o Cortisol plasmático e a excreção urinária de. catecolamina, VMA, HVA e 5-HIAA. Pela análise dos principais componentes, mostraram-se mais importantes, na amostra, as dimensões sociológica e psicológica, seguidas dos componentes idade e catecolamina. O grupo de crianças do sexo masculino com depressão apresentava maior nível de excreção urinária de catecolamina e menor pico de Cortisol plasmático que o grupo sem depressão. A variável idade, em ambos os sexos, correlacionava-se à variável catecolamina. Alterações bioquímicas estão presentes em crianças com depressão, mas é difícil demonstrar correlação de dependência entre elas e aspectos fenomenológicos da depressão.



Texto completo disponível apenas em PDF.

Full text available only in PDF format.



Acknowledgements - We would like to thank Mrs Vera Lucia Roberto and Mrs lone Batista Gomes for their technical assistance.



1. Barron JL, Peak BR. Simplified colorimetry of urinary homovanillic acid. Clin Chem 1980, 26:527.         [ Links ]

2. Bunney WEJr, Davis JM. Norepinephrine in depressive reactions: a review. Arch Gen Psychiatr 1965, 13:483.         [ Links ]

3. Cytryn L, Macknew DH, Logue M, Desai RB. Biochemical correlates of affective disorders in children. Arch Gen Psychiat 1974, 31:659.         [ Links ]

4. Davis JM, Koslow SH, Gibbons RD, Maas JW, Bowden CL, Casper R, Hanin I, Javaid JI, Chang SS, Stokes PE. Cerebrospinal fluid and urinary biogenic amines in depressed patients and healthy controls. Arch Gen Psychiat 1988, 45:706.         [ Links ]

5. DeLeon-Jones FA. Biochemical aspects of affective disorders. In Val ER, Gaviria FM, Flaherty JA (eds) : Affective Disorders: Psychopathology and Treatment. Chicago: Year Book Medical Publ 1982, p 117-136.         [ Links ]

6. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Ed 3 (Revised). Washington : American Psychiatric Association, 1987.         [ Links ]

7. Gibbons RD, Davis PM. Consistent evidence for a biological subtype of depression characterized by low CSF monoamine levels. Acta Psychiat Scand 1986, 74:8.         [ Links ]

8. Goldberg H. Specific photometric determination of 5-hydroxyindolacetic acid in urine. Clin Chem 1973, 19:38.         [ Links ]

9. Gumboldt G. Colorimetric method for the rapid land quantitative determination of 4-hidroxy-3-methoxymandelie acid (vanillylmandelic acid) in human urine. Clin Chem 1977, 23:1949.         [ Links ]

10. Jimerson DC. Neurotransmitter hypotheses of depression. Psychiatric Clin N Am 1984, 7:663.         [ Links ]

11. Jimerson DC. Role of dopamine mechanisms in the affective disorders. In Meltzer HY (ed) : Psychopharmacology: The Third Generation of Progress. New York: Raven Press, 1987, p 505-511.         [ Links ]

12. Kashani JH, Holcomb WR, Orvaschel H. Depression and depressive symptoms in preschool children from the general population. Am J Psychiat 1986, 143:1138.         [ Links ]

13. Kashani JH, Husain A, Shekin WO, Hodges KK, Cytryn L, Mackenew DH. Current perspectives on childhood depression : an overview. Am J Psychiat 1981, 138:143.         [ Links ]

14. Koslow SH, Maas JW, Bowden CL, Davis JM, Hanin I, Javaid JI. CSF and urinary biogenic amines and metabolites in depression and mania. Arch Gen Psychiat 1983, 40:999.         [ Links ]

15. Kronenberg Y, Blumensohn R, Apter A. A comparison of different diagnostic tools for childhood depression. Acta Psychiat Scand 1988, 77:194.         [ Links ]

16. Krynski S. Considerações gerais sobre a «criança maltratada». In Krynski S, Lippi JRS, Celia SAH (eds) : A Criança Maltratada. São Paulo: Aimed, 1985, p 1-10.         [ Links ]

17. Lippi JRS. Maltrato: um grave problema humano. In Krynski S, Lippi JRS, Celia SAH (eds): A Criança, Maltratada. São Paulo: Aimed, 1985, p 11-18.         [ Links ]

18. MacKnew DH, Cytryn L. Urinary metabolites in chronically depressed children. J Am Acad Child Psychiat 1979, 18:608.         [ Links ]

19. Meltzer HY, Lowy MT. The serotonin hypothesis of depression. In Meltzer HY (ed) : Psychopharmacology : The Third Generation of Progress. New York: Raven Press, 1987, p 513-526.         [ Links ]

20. Poznanski BO, Cook SC, Carrol BJ. A depression rating scale for children. Pediatrics 1979, 64:442.         [ Links ]

21. Poznanski E, Mokros HB, Grossman J, Freeman LN. Diagnostic criteria in childhood depression. Am J Psychiat 1985, 142:1168.         [ Links ]

22. Puig-Antich J, Chambers W, Halpern F, Hanlon C, Sachar BJ. Cortisol hypersecretion In prepubertal depressive illness: a preliminary report. Psychoneuroendocrinology 1979, 4:191.         [ Links ]

23. Puig-Antich J. Psychobiological markers: effects of age and puberty. In Rutter M, Izard CE, Read PB (eds) : Depression in Young People. New York: Guilford Press, 1986, p 341-381.         [ Links ]

24. Quek ESC, Buttery JE, De Witt GF. Catecholamines in urine: an evaluation of alumi-natrihydroxyindole methods and a description of an improved method, Clin Chim Acta 1975, 58:137.         [ Links ]

25. Rothschild AJ. Biology of depression. Med Clin N Am 1988, 72:765.         [ Links ]

26. Roy A, Linnoila M, Karoum F, Pickar D. Relative activity of metabolic pathways for norepinephrine in endogenous depression. Acta Psychiat Scand 1986, 73:624.         [ Links ]

27. Roy A. Guthrie S, Karoum F, Pickar D, Linnoila M. High intercorrelations among urinary outputs of norepinephrine and its major metabolites. Arch Gen Psychiat 1988, 45:158.         [ Links ]

28. Rubin RT, Roland RE. Pituitary-adrenocortical and pituitary-gonadal function in affective disorder. In Brown BM et al. (eds) : Neuroendocrinology and Psychiatric Disorder. New York: Raven Press, 1984, p 151-164.         [ Links ]

29. Schildkraut JJ. The catecholamine hypothesis of affective disorders : a review of supporting evidence. Am J Psychiat 1965, 122:508.         [ Links ]

30. Shaw JA. Childhood depression. Med Clin N Am 1988, 72:831.         [ Links ]

31. Siever LJ. Role of noradrenergic mechanism in the etiology of the affective disorders. In Meltzer HY: Psychopharmacology : The Third Generation of Progress. New York: Raven Press 1987, p 493-504.         [ Links ]

32. Tuomisto J, Männistö P. Neurotransmitter regulation of anterior pituitary hormones. Pharmacol Rev 1985, 37:249.         [ Links ]

33. Widom CS. The cycle of violence. Science 1989, 244:160.         [ Links ]



Dr. Eduardo Antonio de Queiroz - Faculdade de Medicina, UFMG - Caixa Postal 340 - 30130 Belo Horizonte MG - Brasil.

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License