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Horm Behav. 2012 Jan;61(1):23-30. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.09.009. Epub 2011 Oct 1.

Neuroticism, acculturation and the cortisol awakening response in Mexican American adults.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA.


Neuroticism is associated with greater susceptibility to the adverse effects of stress and greater exposure to the stressors associated with acculturation in U.S. born Mexican Americans. Neuroticism and acculturation have been associated with injury to crucial stress response systems and are known risk factors for certain mood and anxiety disorders. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of neuroticism, and acculturation on the cortisol awakening response (CAR) in healthy Mexican-American adults. Salivary cortisol samples were collected at awakening and 30, 45, and 60 min thereafter, on two consecutive weekdays from 59 healthy Mexican American adult males (26) and females (33), ages 18 to 38 years. Participants were assessed for level of neuroticism and acculturation. Data were analyzed using a mixed effects regression model with repeated measures at four time points. Results showed a significant Neuroticism×Acculturation×Time interaction. The CAR was virtually eliminated in highly acculturated Mexican Americans with greater Anglo orientation and high neuroticism compared with less acculturated Mexican Americans with greater Mexican orientation and lower neuroticism. Findings suggest that some Mexican Americans with high levels of neuroticism may be particularly susceptible to certain challenges and stressors associated with acculturation leading over time to the development of allostatic load, desensitization of the Hypothalamic CRF system and attenuation of the CAR.

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