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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013 Dec;38(12):3167-71. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.09.008. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

Diurnal profiles of salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase change across the adult lifespan: evidence from repeated daily life assessments.

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University of Marburg, Department of Psychology, Marburg 35032, Germany. Electronic address:


Salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase are known to have distinctive diurnal profiles. However, little is known about systematic changes in these biomarkers across the adult lifespan. In a study of 185 participants (aged 20-81 years), time-stamped salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase were collected 7 times/day over 10 days. Samples were taken upon waking, 30 min later, and then approximately every 3 h until 9 pm. Multilevel models showed that older age was associated with increased daily cortisol secretion as indicated by greater area under the curve, attenuated wake-evening slopes, and more pronounced cortisol awakening responses. Further, older age was related to greater daily alpha-amylase output and attenuated wake-evening slopes. No age differences were observed regarding the alpha-amylase awakening response. Our findings may contribute to a better understanding of age-related differences in functioning of stress-related systems.


Aging; Cortisol; Lifespan; Salivary alpha-amylase

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