Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S) and corticotropin levels are high in young male patients for conduct disorder : comparisons with growth factors, thyroid and gonadal hormones
The biological concomitants of childhood conduct disorder (CD) have seldom been considered separate from those of hyperkinesis with which CD is often comorbid. CD predicts an increased likelihood of developing a personality disorder and is often associated with an antisocial outcome. Childhood CD may originate in a stressful upbringing in a dysfunctional family environment, and has been reported to be associated with unusual physical or sexual development and thyroid dysfunction. Methods: We therefore explored circulating levels of hormones from adrenal, gonadal and growth-hormone axes associated with stress, aggression and development in 28 CD patients and 13 age-matched healthy children (10-18 years old). Results: 1/ The CD group had higher levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S) and corticotropin (ACTH) and for those under 14 years of age there was more free triiodothyronine (fT3) in the circulation. 2/ There were no differences for gonadal hormones, and neither the levels of steroid hormones nor the ratings of maturity (early/late) were associated with aggression, as has been reported elsewhere. 3/ Smaller physical measures in CD children correlated with DHEA-S and growth factors (e.g. IGF-I): 4/ increased ACTH and fT3 correlated with restless-impulsive ratings, and DHEA-S with 'disruptive behaviour'. Conclusions: Imbalances in the adrenal and growth axes may indeed have neurotrophic repercussions in growth and development.