Elevated levels of corticotropin (ACTH)-reactive immunoglobulins (ACTH IgG) were found in males with conduct disorder, suggesting their involvement in the biology of antisocial behavior. We first aimed to confirm these findings in a large general population sample of adolescents. Secondly, we studied the association between ACTH IgG levels and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response to stress. Free and total ACTH IgG levels were measured in sera of 1230 adolescents (15-18 years). HPA axis activity was determined by measuring salivary cortisol before, during, and after a social stress test. Antisocial behavior was assessed using the Antisocial Behavior Questionnaire. ACTH peptide and IgG affinity kinetics for ACTH were assayed in a subsample of 90 adolescents selected for high or low ACTH IgG levels.In boys, higher total ACTH IgG levels were associated with higher antisocial behavior scores (β=1.05, p=0.04), especially at high levels of free ACTH IgG. In girls, antisocial behavior was associated with low free ACTH IgG levels (β=-0.20, p=0.04). Stress-induced cortisol release was associated with free ACTH IgG in boys (βareaunderthecurve=-0.67, p<0.01), and with total ACTH IgG in girls (βrecovery=0.84, p=0.05). The affinity kinetics assay showed that ACTH IgG association rates were lower in both boys and girls with high ACTH IgG levels.These data show that ACTH IgG levels are related to antisocial behavior and HPA axis response to stress in adolescents. The mechanisms behind these associations, including different ACTH binding properties of IgG in subjects with antisocial behavior, deserve further attention.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.08.015, hdl.handle.net/1765/69409
Pediatric Psychiatry

Schäfer, J., Fetissov, S., Legrand, R., Claeyssens, S., Hoekstra, P., Verhulst, F., & van Oort, F. (2013). Corticotropin (ACTH)-reactive immunoglobulins in adolescents in relation to antisocial behavior and stress-induced cortisol response. The TRAILS study. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(12), 3039–3047. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.08.015