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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996 May;81(5):1956-60.

Time kinetics of the endocrine response to acute psychological stress.

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Division of Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, Germany.


A first-time parachute jump was chosen as a model to evaluate the endocrine response to acute psychological stress. In 43 inexperienced tandem parachutists, blood was drawn continuously from 2 h before to 1 h after the jump and analyzed at 10-min intervals for plasma concentrations of epinephrine (E), norepinephrine (NE), cortisol, GH, PRL, and TSH. In addition, heart rate was recorded throughout the experiment. There was a significant increase in heart rate and E concentrations during the jump itself. NE, cortisol, GH, PRL, and TSH peaked with a latency of 10-20 min. Apart from cortisol and TSH concentrations, which were still elevated 1 h after the stress event, plasma levels of the other endocrine variables normalized within 1 h following the jump. Statistically significant cross-correlations could be observed between E and NE (r = 0.60, no time lag) and between E and PRL (r = 0.58, 10-min time lag) only. Even in a very homogenous group of subjects and under well-controlled conditions, endocrine responses to acute psychological stress show considerable variations.

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