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Chronobiol Int. 2003 Sep;20(5):863-78.

Circadian variation in cortisol reactivity to an acute stressor.

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Department of Psychonomics, University of Amsterdam, Amsteradm, The Netherlands.


To investigate the role of the circadian pacemaker in cortisol reactivity to a cold pressor challenge, 26 diurnally subjects participated in a constant-routine protocol and were divided into two groups. Group 1 started immediately after a monitored sleep period at 09:00 h, while group 2 started 12 h later. After 2 h of adaptation, a cold pressor test was presented every 3 h. The cortisol response was assessed by means of saliva samples that were taken before and after the test. The pretest samples were considered to be base-rate measures and base-rate values as subtracted from post-test values were considered as reactivity measures. Both measures showed distinct Time-of-Day variations (respectively: F(7,168) = 16.92, p < 0.001, epsilon = 0.383; and F(7,175) = 8.01, p < 0.001, epsilon = 0.523). These findings are interpreted as evidence for the existence of an endogenous circadian periodicity underlying the sensitivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis to acute stress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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