Salivary α‐amylase stress reactivity across different age groups

Department of Psychology, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.
Psychophysiology (Impact Factor: 3.18). 05/2010; 47(3):587-95. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2009.00957.x
Source: PubMed


tract Salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) increases rapidly in response to psychosocial stress in young adults, but no direct comparisons between different age groups across the life span have been made. Secretion of sAA and cortisol was assessed in children, young adults, and older adults after exposure to the Trier Social Stress Test. Additionally, cardiovascular activity was measured in both adult groups. Older adults showed attenuated sAA, heart rate (HR), and heart rate variability (HRV) responses. Furthermore, we found higher sAA but lower cortisol at baseline as well as lower sAA and cortisol responses in children. Age x sex interactions were observed only for cortisol with higher responses in older male participants. No associations between the parameters were found. These results implicate sAA as an alternative or additional sympathetic stress marker throughout the life span, with marked and rapid stress responsiveness in three relevant age groups.

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    • "We, however, did not have a clear hypothesis on HR response after psychological stress, due to the inconsistent and limited amount of literature in relation to ageing (Almela et al., 2011; Strahler et al., 2010; Kudielka et al., 2004a), and when taking beta blocker use into account, this effect was abolished. Still, baseline heart rate tended to be lower in offspring. "
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    • "All these results confirm that the stress task used was able to produce an ANS and HPA-axis response. Finally, higher cortisol baseline and response to stress was found in men than in women, as in previous studies (Almela et al., 2011b; Strahler et al., 2010). "
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    • "Moreover, we tested whether sAA levels significantly changed over time in each trial by calculating general linear models with repeated salivary measures in each trial separately to obtain information regarding significance of main effects of time. As we decided against weight adjustment of infusion concentrations and in light of previously reported associations of cardiovascular risk factors and indicators for SNS activity (Strahler et al., 2010) we controlled for the cardiovascular risk factors BMI, age, and MAP in all repeated sAA analyses as an a-priori defined set of covariates. "
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