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Dev Psychobiol. 2015 Sep;57(6):705-18. doi: 10.1002/dev.21231. Epub 2014 Sep 12.

Coupling of the HPA and HPG axes in the context of early life adversity in incarcerated male adolescents.

Author information

1
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. dismukes@iastate.edu.
2
Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley, CA.
3
Department of Psychiatry, Georgia Regents University, Augusta, GA.
4
Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA.
5
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.

Abstract

The effects of early life adversity can be observed across the lifespan, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axes could be mechanistic intermediaries underlying this phenomenon. The current study examined 50 adolescent males aged 12-18 in a maximum-security correctional and treatment setting. Saliva samples were collected five times a day for 2 days and assayed for cortisol, testosterone, and DHEA. Youth completed semi-structured life stress interviews and self-reports of child maltreatment to index adversity. When youth had higher testosterone levels, they had higher cortisol and DHEA levels, indicating positive "coupling" of the HPA-HPG axes. In addition, children experiencing greater life adversity had tighter coupling of the HPA-HPG axes. Additional analyses hint that coupling may be driven largely by HPG axis functioning. Results indicate that positive coupling of the HPA-HPG axis is observed within incarcerated adolescents, especially for those with the greatest life stress.

KEYWORDS:

DHEA; HLM; HPA; HPG; adolescence; cortisol; dual-axis; stress; testosterone

PMID:
25213098
PMCID:
PMC5429593
DOI:
10.1002/dev.21231
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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