Sex differences in salivary cortisol in response to acute stressors among healthy participants, in recreational or pathological gamblers, and in those with posttraumatic stress disorder.
ABSTRACT Sex differences in incidence and severity of some stress-related, neuropsychiatric disorders are often reported to favor men, suggesting that women may be more vulnerable to aberrant hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responses to stress. In this review, we discuss several investigations that we, and others, have conducted assessing salivary cortisol as a measure of HPA function. We have examined basal cortisol among healthy men and women and also following acute exposure to stressors. Among healthy participants, men had higher basal cortisol levels than did women. In response to acute stressors, such as carbon dioxide or noise, respectively, cortisol levels were comparable between men and women or higher among women. We have also examined cortisol levels among those with problem eating, gambling, or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Women with restrained eating habits have higher basal cortisol levels than do women without restrained eating habits. Pathological gamblers have more aberrant stress response to gambling stimuli than do recreational gamblers, and these effects are more prominent among men than women. Men who have motor vehicle accident related PTSD, demonstrate more aberrant cortisol function, than do their female counterparts. Although these sex differences in cortisol seem to vary with type of stress exposure and/or pathophysiological status of the individual, other hormones may influence cortisol response. To address this, cortisol levels among boys and girls with different stress-related experiences, will be the subject of future investigation.
Article: Tolerance in gambling: An objective measure using the psychophysiological analysis of male fruit machine gamblers[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: “Excitement” has often been referred to as the gambler's drug although until recently there was little evidence to substantiate such claims. This study involved the systematic monitoring of the psychophysiology of fruit machine gambling using heart rate measures in 30 adolescent male gamblers. The study was designed to test heart rate differences between regular and nonregular fruit machine gamblers (i.e., between subjects) and differences against the players' own baseline rates (i.e., within subjects). Results showed that there were no heart rate differences between regular and nonregular gamblers although during gambling, both groups' heart rates increased by approximately 22 beats per minute. It was also found that nonregular gamblers' heart rates did not decrease significantly after gambling whereas regular gamblers did. This finding could be argued as the first study to demonstrate an objective measure of gambling tolerance.Addictive Behaviors · 2.09 Impact Factor
[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a major stress responsive system in humans. Although there are numerous ways of testing responsiveness of the HPA in experimental animals, this is much more difficult in man. Hypercapnea is a very stressful stimulus for humans and has been used as an anxiogenic probe in psychiatric patients. We have now investigated whether the simple challenge of a single 35% inhalation of CO(2) activates the neuroendocrine system as evidenced by changes in HPA activity, as well as cardiovascular and subjective responses, in healthy volunteers. Fourteen healthy male volunteers were recruited. They underwent single vital capacity inhalation of room air and 35% CO(2), in a single blind fashion. Neuroendocrine, cardiovascular and subjective fear measures were taken at regular intervals. CO(2) inhalation produced significant activation of the HPA axis in all subjects, as measured with plasma cortisol. Heart rate was decreased and systolic blood pressure was significantly increased shortly after the inhalation of CO(2). The subjects reported short-lived symptoms of fear with the experimental gas. Single vital capacity inhalation of 35% CO(2) activated the HPA axis in healthy volunteers. It also had a significant cardiovascular and psychological (anxiogenic) effect, as expected from previous published studies. The test is potentially useful in studying the responsivity of the HPA axis in health and disease.Psychoneuroendocrinology 09/2002; 27(6):715-29. · 5.81 Impact Factor
[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) has been implicated in the regulation of a wide range of behaviors including arousal, motor function, feeding, and reproduction. Because depressed patients are often hypercortisolemic and intracerebroventricular administration of CRH to experimental animals produces a syndrome reminiscent of depression, dysregulation of this compound has been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of depressive and anxiety disorders. Studies of cerebrospinal fluid CRH levels and clinical neuroendocrine tests in patients with anxiety and affective disorders have supported this hypothesis. This review discusses these neuroendocrine findings in melancholic and atypical depression as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Overall, the data suggest that melancholic depression is characterized by hyperactive central CRH systems with overactivity of the pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. On the other hand, atypical depression is characterized by hypoactive central CRH systems and accompanying underactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Furthermore, the neuroendocrinology of PTSD appears to be unique, in that patients have hyperactive central CRH systems with underactivity of the pituitary-adrenal axis.Peptides 06/2001; 22(5):845-51. · 2.43 Impact Factor