Diurnal Variation of Cortisol in People With Dementia: Relationship to Cognition and Illness Burden

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 53201, USA.
American Journal of Alzheimer s Disease and Other Dementias (Impact Factor: 1.63). 03/2011; 26(2):145-50. DOI: 10.1177/1533317510397329
Source: PubMed


Cortisol patterns in nursing home residents with dementia are described and examined in relation to cognition and comorbid illnesses. Saliva was sampled 4 times in a 24-hour period (week 1) and at the same times 1 week later (week 2). In general, cortisol levels decreased from morning to evening, with 50% exhibiting a negative slope. In contrast, 38% of the participants had a relatively flat cortisol diurnal rhythm, and 7% exhibited an afternoon increase. The cortisol pattern was consistent between weeks 1 and 2 for 39% with a negative slope, 13% with a flat profile, and for 2% with an afternoon increase pattern. Cortisol rhythm was not statistically significantly related to cognition or illness burden. While this study contributes to the understanding of differences in the diurnal pattern of cortisol for older adults with dementia, more research is needed to understand the etiology of the differences and the biological mechanisms involved.

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Available from: Hershel Raff, Aug 27, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Background: A dysregulated hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (HPA) is thought to play a role in the pathophysiology of cognitive impairment. Surprisingly, little agreement exists on the association of cortisol and cognitive impairment. Thus, we sought to examine the association between cognitive function and salivary cortisol levels in a representative sample of older men and women. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted among 733 study participants (65-90 years old, mean age=74.9) of the population-based KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg)-Age study. Associations were examined between cognitive function (determined by telephone interview for cognitive status-modified, TICS-m) and salivary cortisol measured upon waking (M1), 30min after awakening (M2), and in the late evening (E). Results: In a dose response manner, lower morning (M1 and M2), and increased evening levels were observed in participants with probable dementia (4.5%, N=33) and slightly increased in those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (13.8%, N=101) compared to healthy individuals. Higher morning to evening ratios were associated with reduced odds of cognitive impairment, even after adjustments for important confounders (M1/E ratio: OR=1.50, 95% CI=1.08-2.07, M2/E ratio: 1.41, 1.01-1.95, per 1 standard deviation (SD) increase). However, the significant association of an increased risk for cognitive impairment was observed among men (M1/E: OR=1.94, 95% CI=1.24-3.02; M2/E=1.74, 1.12-2.71) but not women (M1/E: OR=1.11, 0.69-1.78; M2/E=1.09, 0.67-1.77). Conclusion: Our findings suggest that dysregulated HPA axis reactivity, evidenced by blunted diurnal cortisol responses, are associated with impaired cognitive function in an aged population.
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