• Exploration of basal diurnal salivary cortisol profiles in middle-aged adults: Associations with sleep quality and metabolic parameters

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Hendrickx, Hilde; Talbot, Duncan; Dye, Louise (Elsevier, 2007-09-27)
      The use of saliva samples is a practical and feasible method to explore basal diurnal cortisol profiles in free-living research. This study explores a number of psychological and physiological characteristics in relation to the observed pattern of salivary cortisol activity over a 12-h period with particular emphasis on sleep. Basal diurnal cortisol profiles were examined in a sample of 147 volunteers (mean age 46.2177.18 years). Profiles were constructed for each volunteer and explored in terms of the area under the curve (AUC) of the cortisol-awakening response with samples obtained immediately upon waking (0, 15, 30 and 45 min post waking) and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 h post waking to assess diurnal decline. Diurnal mean of cortisol was based on the mean of cortisol at time points 3, 6, 9 and 12 h post waking. Psychological measures of perceived stress and sleep were collected with concurrent biological assessment of fasting plasma glucose, insulin, blood lipids and inflammatory markers. Blunted cortisol profiles, characterised by a reduced AUC, were observed in the majority (78%) of a middle-aged sample and were associated with significantly poorer sleep quality and significantly greater waist-hip ratio (WHR). Blunted cortisol profiles were further associated with a tendency to exhibit a less favourable metabolic profile. These findings suggest that reduced cortisol secretion post waking may serve as an additional marker of psychological and biological vulnerability to adverse health outcomes in middle-aged adults.
    • Exploring stress-induced cognitive impairment in middle aged, centrally obese adults

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Hendrickx, Hilde; Talbot, Duncan; Dye, Louise (2013-01)
      Extensive research has shown that psychosocial stress can induce cognitive impairment. However, few studies have explored impairment following acute stress exposure in individuals with central obesity. Central obesity co-occurs with glucocorticoid excess and can lead to elevated cortisol responses to stress. It is not clear whether centrally obese individuals exhibit greater cognitive impairment following acute stress. Cortisol responses to stress versus no-stress control were compared in 66 high- and low waist to hip ratio (WHR) middle-aged adults (mean age of 46 ± 7.17 years). Cognitive performance post exposure was assessed using Cambridge Automated Neuropsychological Test Battery. It was hypothesised that high WHR would exhibit greater cortisol in response to stress exposure and would show poorer cognitive performance. Males, particularly of high WHR, tended to secrete greater cortisol during stress exposure. Exposure to stress and increasing WHR were specifically associated with poorer performance on declarative memory tasks (spatial recognition memory and paired associates learning). These data tentatively suggest a reduction in cognitive performance in those with central obesity following exposure to acute stress. Further research is needed to elucidate the effects of stress on cognition in this population.