Systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), norepinephrine (NE) plasma levels, cortisol (CRT), growth hormone (GH), and prolactin (PRL) plasma levels were investigated in 26 high intestinal tone (high-IT) and 24 low intestinal tone (low-IT) depressed patients, before and after the intramuscular injection of clonidine (2.5 µg/kg). A positive correlation was found between NE, DBP, and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HRS) values in low-IT depressed patients, while a negative correlation was found between HRS/IT and NE in high-IT depressed patients. Although clonidine induced significant reduction of SBP in both groups, the drug reduced DBP and NE in the low-IT group, only. CRT mean level was greater in the high-IT than in the low-IT depressed group. However, clonidine was unable to induce changes in CRT, GH, and PRL mean levels in any depressed group. Our results suggest that the clonidine-induced DBP reduction is a reliable index of sympathetic activity in depressed patients and that both parameters (DBP and IT) are useful physiological markers to differentiate two types of depressive syndromes.

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