Anger and fear responses to stress have different biological profiles

Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles 90095, United States.
Brain Behavior and Immunity (Impact Factor: 5.89). 10/2009; 24(2):215-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2009.08.009
Source: PubMed


In contrast to a general model of stress, a functional model suggests that emotions may regulate stress responses in specific adaptive ways. The current study examined whether anger and fear during a challenging stress task (Trier Social Stress Task) were differentially associated with cortisol and proinflammatory cytokine responses to an acute stressor. Baseline anger and fear were related to greater cortisol and proinflammatory cytokines. However, anger reactions to the stressor were associated with greater stress-related increases in cortisol over time but not proinflammatory cytokines. In contrast, fear reactions to the stressor were associated with increases in stress-related proinflammatory cytokines over time and a decrease in cortisol. Results are consistent with the functional perspective that distinct emotional experiences appear to trigger temporally-patterned adaptive biological processes to mobilize energy in response to anger and to promote withdrawal in response to fear. Discussion focuses on the role of the HPA axis to increase available metabolic fuel and proinflammatory cytokines to prompt behavioral withdrawal.

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    • "There are at least two possible explanations for this study's findings. One explanation is that the upregulation of cytokines in situations involving avoidance is an adaptation to promote healing (Moons et al., 2010). Individuals who are typically avoidant may view themselves as less able to engage the world around them, which may translate into a pervasive sense of vulnerability to harm or infection. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent research has linked avoidance-oriented motivational states to elevated pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. According to one of many theories regarding the association between avoidance and cytokine levels, because the evolutionarily basic avoidance system may be activated when an organism is threatened or overwhelmed, an associated inflammatory response may be adaptive for dealing with potential injury in such threatening situations. To examine this hypothesis, we tested whether the neural correlate of avoidance motivation associates with baseline levels of the circulating pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6). Controlling for covariates, greater resting neural activity in the right frontal cortex relative to the left frontal cortex-the neural correlate of avoidance motivation-was associated with baseline IL-6. These results thus support the hypothesis that the avoidance motivational system may be closely linked to systemic inflammatory activity. (PsycINFO Database Record
    Emotion 10/2015; DOI:10.1037/emo0000120 · 3.88 Impact Factor
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    • "Drawing some early conclusions, our results suggest that anger and anxiety may be characterized as motivational behavior which triggers different endocrine and IL-1b salivary release (Moons et al., 2010). Our data are in accordance with findings that propose a role for C in anxiety responses; they also argue the implication of T, T/C ratio and IL-1b in the expression of anger in a sporting context . "
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    ABSTRACT: Several studies have focused on the relationship between hormonal changes and affective states in sporting contexts relating to an agonistic outcome. More recently, pro-inflammatory cytokines have also been successfully associated with affective state modulation. The aim of this study was to investigate whether athletes who won or lost show different levels of steroid hormones (testosterone and cortisol), pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1β, or expressions of anger and anxiety during six training fights in seasonal competitions down to the main seasonal competition. In 25 male kick-boxing athletes (age ± SD, 28.68 ± 5.34), Anger states (RS score) and Anxiety states (AS score) were assessed by STAXI-2 and STAI-Y, respectively. Cortisol (C), testosterone (T) and IL-1β salivary levels were measured by the ELISA method. The saliva samples were taken in the afternoon, 30 min prior to the start and 30 min from the end of both simulated and official competitions. The results showed that the RS score, T, T/C ratio salivary levels increased during the season, whereas the AS score, C and IL-1β suggested an opposite trend. Close to an official competition, the RS score, T, T/C ratio and IL-1β salivary concentrations were significantly higher, and then decreased during competition. By contrast, the AS score and C levels significantly increased throughout the official competition. In addition, significant differences were found for hormones and IL-1β concentrations as well as psychometric assessment close to the outcome of an official match. Athletes who lost showed an higher AS score and C level, while those who won were characterized by an higher level during the pre-competition RS score, T, T/C ratio, and IL-1β. Note that these factors were positively and significantly correlated at the pre-official competition time, while in a linear regression analysis, IL-1β, T and T/C ratio concentrations explained 43% of the variance in the RS score observed at the same time (adjusted R(2)=0.43, ANOVA P<.05). Our data suggest that the beginning of an agonistic event could trigger emotional responses which correspond to different biological processes instead that of a simulated fight. In particular, IL-1β could be a potential new biological marker of anger and the combined measurement of these factors may be a useful way of understanding athletes' change in relation to their performance. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Brain Behavior and Immunity 02/2015; 49. DOI:10.1016/j.bbi.2015.02.013 · 5.89 Impact Factor
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    • "This suggests that a tendency to respond to stress in an irritable manner may be associated with a distinct pattern of physiological activation. However, self-reported anger and fear were moderately correlated in the Moons et al. (2010) study, making disentanglement of the two emotions difficult. Studies that induced stress experimentally in children with ASD, using psychosocial stress paradigms such as the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST; Kirschbaum, Pirke, & Hellhammer , 1993), have been inconsistent. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Irritability in people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is common and impairing, yet its mechanisms remain understudied. We investigated symptom reporting and mechanisms of irritability in ASD, focusing on the relation between irritability and physiological stress responses.Methods Forty-seven unmedicated boys with high-functioning ASD (hfASD) and 23 typically developing boys aged 10–16 years completed a psychosocial stress test. Changes in cortisol, heart rate and heart rate variability throughout the test were recorded. Self- and parent-reported measures of irritability were obtained. Irritability symptom reporting in the hfASD group was compared to two groups of boys without ASD: highly irritable boys (severe mood dysregulation, SMD; n = 40) and healthy-control boys (HC; n = 30).ResultsBoys with hfASD scored significantly higher on irritability than HC boys, and they reported a pattern of irritability symptoms closely resembling that of boys with SMD. The internal consistency of irritability in hfASD was high by parent- and self-report. Although boys with hfASD showed significant stress-induced changes in cortisol and heart rate, those who rated themselves as highly irritable had lower cortisol levels throughout the test compared to those low on irritability. Participants rated as highly irritable by their parents showed blunted cortisol and heart rate responses to stress. The effects of irritability on heart rate, but not cortisol, were accounted for by trait anxiety.Conclusions Irritability can be measured reliably in hfASD and is associated with distinct biological responses to stress.
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 01/2015; 56(10). DOI:10.1111/jcpp.12382 · 6.46 Impact Factor
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