Altered responsiveness of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic adrenomedullary system to stress in patients with atopic dermatitis.
ABSTRACT A growing number of animal data strongly suggest that a hyporeactive hypothalamus-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis may be pathologically significant by increasing the susceptibility to chronic inflammation. Following this line of evidence, the specific goal of the present study was to investigate the HPA axis in patients with atopic dermatitis (AD), a chronic allergic inflammatory disease. In addition, the sympathetic adrenomedullary (SAM) system as a second potent immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory stress-response system has been examined. AD patients (n = 36) and nonatopic control subjects (n = 37) were exposed to a standardized laboratory stressor consisting of a free speech and mental arithmetic task in front of an audience. Cortisol, ACTH, and catecholamine concentrations were assessed before and after the stressor. To investigate feedback sensitivity of the HPA axis, a low dose (0.5 mg) dexamethasone suppression test was also performed. AD patients showed significantly attenuated cortisol and ACTH responses to the stressor, whereas catecholamine levels were significantly elevated in atopic patients. No difference between the experimental groups was found in basal cortisol and ACTH concentrations, whereas basal catecholamine levels were significantly elevated. Analysis of cortisol levels after dexamethasone treatment suggested an intact feedback sensitivity in AD sufferers at the pituitary level. The present findings suggest that patients with AD demonstrate a blunted HPA axis responsiveness with a concurrent overreactivity of the SAM system to psychosocial stress. Considering the important immunoregulatory role of the HPA axis and the SAM system, especially under stressful conditions, an aberrant responsiveness of these neuroendocrine systems may increase the susceptibility to (allergic) inflammation and may be one psychobiological mechanism of stress-related aggravation of the disease.
Full-textDOI: · Available from: Dirk Hellhammer, Jun 04, 2015
SourceAvailable from: Renata Roland Teixeira[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The present study examined the incidence of chronic stress in business executives (109 subjects: 75 male and 34 female) and its relationship with cortisol levels, cognitive performance, and autonomic nervous system (ANS) reactivity after an acute mental stressor. Blood samples were collected from the subjects to measure cortisol concentration. After the sample collection, the subjects completed the Lipp Inventory of Stress Symptoms for Adults and the Stroop Color-Word Test to evaluate stress and cognitive performance levels, respectively. Saliva samples were collected prior to, immediately after, and five minutes after the test. The results revealed that 90.1% of the stressed subjects experienced stress phases that are considered chronic stress. At rest, the subjects with chronic stress showed higher cortisol levels, and no gender differences were observed. No differences were found between the stressed and non-stressed subjects regarding salivary amylase activity prior to test. Chronic stress also impaired performance on the Stroop test, which revealed higher rates of error and longer reaction times in the incongruent stimulus task independently of gender. For the congruent stimulus task of the Stroop test, the stressed males presented a higher rate of errors than the non-stressed males and a longer reaction time than the stressed females. After the acute mental stressor, the non-stressed male group showed an increase in salivary alpha-amylase activity, which returned to the initial values five minutes after the test; this ANS reactivity was not observed in the chronically stressed male subjects. The ANS responses of the non-stressed vs stressed female groups were not different prior to or after the Stroop test. This study is the first to demonstrate a blunted reactivity of the ANS when male subjects with chronic psychological stress were subjected to an acute mental stressor, and this change could contribute to impairments in cognitive performance.PLoS ONE 03/2015; 10(3):e0119025. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0119025 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Chronic, in particular chronic psychosocial, stress is a burden of modern societies and known to be a risk factor for numerous somatic and affective disorders (in detail referenced below). However, based on the limited existence of appropriate, and clinically relevant, animal models for studying the effects of chronic stress, the detailed behavioral, physiological, neuronal, and immunological mechanisms linking stress and such disorders are insufficiently understood. To date, most chronic stress studies in animals employ intermittent exposure to the same (homotypic) or to different (heterotypic) stressors of varying duration and intensity. Such models are only of limited value, since they do not adequately reflect the chronic and continuous situation that humans typically experience. Furthermore, application of different physical or psychological stimuli renders comparisons to the mainly psychosocial stressors faced by humans, as well as between the different stress studies almost impossible. In contrast, rodent models of chronic psychosocial stress represent situations more akin to those faced by humans and consequently seem to hold more clinical relevance. Our laboratory has developed a model in which mice are exposed to social stress for 19 continuous days, namely the chronic subordinate colony housing (CSC) paradigm, to help bridge this gap. The main aim of the current review article is to provide a detailed summary of the behavioral, physiological, neuronal, and immunological consequences of the CSC paradigm, and wherever possible relate the findings to other stress models and to the human situation.Frontiers in Psychiatry 02/2015; 6:18. DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2015.00018
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ABSTRACT: Age-related memory decline has been associated with a faulty regulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis). The aim of this study was to investigate whether the magnitude of the stress-induced cortisol increase is related to memory performance when memory is measured in non-stressful conditions. To do so, declarative and working memory performance were measured in 31 men and 35 women between 55 and 77 years of age. On a different day, the magnitude of their cortisol response to acute psychosocial stress was measured. The relationship between the cortisol response and memory performance was U shaped: a low cortisol response to stress was related to poorer declarative and working memory performance, whereas those who did not increase their cortisol levels and those who had the largest cortisol increase had better declarative and working memory capabilities. Sex did not moderate these relationships. These results suggest that a low cortisol response to stress could reflect a defective HPA-axis response to stressors that is accompanied by poorer memory performance. Conversely, a high cortisol response seems to reflect a correct functioning of the HPA-axis and may protect against memory deficits in the later stages of human life.Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 07/2014; 6:157. DOI:10.3389/fnagi.2014.00157 · 2.84 Impact Factor