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Neurosci Res. 2018 Dec;137:49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2018.03.003. Epub 2018 Mar 14.

Salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol responsiveness to stress in first episode, drug-naïve patients with panic disorder.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Psychiatry Unit, Foggia, Italy. Electronic address: m_altamura@virgilio.it.
2
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Psychiatry Unit, Foggia, Italy.
3
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Section of Human Physiology, Foggia, Italy.

Abstract

Reported findings on reactivity to stress of the sympathetic-adreno-medullar (SAM) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) systems in panic disorder (PD) are very variable. This inconsistency may be explained by differences in treatment exposure, illness duration and emotion regulation strategies. The present study examined the reactivity to mental stress of the SAM and HPA axes in a sample of first episode, drug naïve patients with PD which avoids confounds of medications exposure and illness chronicity. Activation of the SAM axis was evaluated by dosage of salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) and heart rate. Activation of the HPA axis was tested by dosage of salivary cortisol. Psychological assessments were done by the Self-Rating Depression Scale, the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Cope Orientation to Problems Experienced (COPE) Inventory and the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF). Patients showed reduced sAA stress reactivity, higher baseline cortisol levels and a more rapid decrease in stress cortisol levels as compared with controls. A significant correlation was found between active coping strategies and cortisol levels (response to stress). The findings suggest that blunted SAM stress reactivity and a rapid decrease in stress cortisol levels reflect traits that may enhance vulnerability to psychopathology in patients with PD.

KEYWORDS:

HPA axis; Panic disorder; SAM system; Salivary alpha-amylase; Salivary cortisol; Stress reactivity

PMID:
29550536
DOI:
10.1016/j.neures.2018.03.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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