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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Neuroendocrine responses to experimentally-induced psychological stress in healthy humans.

Previous studies of hormonal and neurophysiological changes in response to psychological stress in humans have produced contrasting findings due to differing experimental procedures and consistent individual variability. Habituation effects, which influence physiological coping in response to exposure to repeated stress, need to be investigated more extensively. In the present study, twenty healthy male subjects were each exposed twice to the same psychosocial stressor (Stroop Color Word Interference task, public speaking and mental arithmetic in front of an audience) during a first session (day 1) and a second session (day 8). Plasma concentrations of norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (EPI), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol (CORT) and prolactin (PRL) were measured immediately before the beginning of the tests and at their end, 30 min later, on both experimental days. For the total group, NE, EPI, ACTH, and CORT levels were significantly elevated, and PRL levels were significantly decreased, after stress exposure on day 1. ACTH and CORT levels showed less significant increases after stress on day 8. In contrast, NE and EPI responses to stress were not significantly blunted, and PRL response was unchanged on day 8. Cluster analysis revealed two groups of subjects who showed different habituation patterns for ACTH and CORT. The first group (n=12) of subjects showed a reduction of ACTH and CORT responses to stress on day 8. The subjects of the second group (n=8) displayed a significant increase of ACTH and cortisol in response to stress on day 8, without any habituation effect. These results increase the evidence concerning the involvement of the HPA axis and catecholamines in response to psychological stress, and suggest that possible individual differences in the neuroendocrine coping mechanisms may affect mood regulation and the state of health.[1]


  1. Neuroendocrine responses to experimentally-induced psychological stress in healthy humans. Gerra, G., Zaimovic, A., Mascetti, G.G., Gardini, S., Zambelli, U., Timpano, M., Raggi, M.A., Brambilla, F. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2001) [Pubmed]
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