Plasma dopamine-beta-hydroxylase in depressed patients.
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Plasma dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DBH) activity was determined for 28 patients with a major affective disorder (Research Diagnostic Criteria) and 34 controls with no current, past, or family history of a psychiatric disorder. Plasma DBH activity was higher among patients (24.6 IU +/- 25.4 IU) than controls (14.5 IU +/- 8.9 IU), and subjects with plasma DBH activity greater than 25 IU were more common among patients. Unemployment and never marrying were associated with plasma DBH activity greater than 25 IU. Finally, referred patients (n = 9) had higher DBH activity (41.8 IU +/- 37.2 IU) than those responding to newspaper advertisements (n = 19, 16.5 IU +/- 11.5 IU) although these groups differed on no other variable including past history of treatment. We conclude that high plasma DBH activity may represent a vulnerability factor for depression.