Document Detail

Prolonged salivary cortisol recovery in second-trimester pregnant women and attenuated salivary alpha-amylase responses to psychosocial stress in human pregnancy.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  16434458     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
CONTEXT: The underlying biological mechanisms of stress-related pregnancy complications in humans are still poorly understood. Recent research on pharmacological or physical provocation procedures in pregnant women has resulted in inhomogeneous findings. Furthermore, no studies conducted so far have used a psychosocial stress paradigm at different stages of pregnancy. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to identify endocrine, autonomic, and psychological responses to standardized psychosocial stress at different stages of pregnancy. DESIGN: Ninety healthy women (aged 21-37 yr), including 30 pregnant women at the beginning of the second trimester and 30 women at the beginning of the third trimester, as well as 30 nonpregnant women in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle, underwent a psychosocial stress test. Salivary free cortisol, alpha-amylase, heart rate, and psychological parameters were repeatedly measured. RESULTS: Salivary cortisol recovery was significantly prolonged in second-trimester pregnant women (P = 0.04). Cortisol and heart rate increases of both pregnant groups were shown to be comparable with those of the controls. alpha-Amylase increases of both pregnant groups were markedly attenuated compared with nonpregnant women (P = 0.008). CONCLUSIONS: From these data, we conclude that, in contrast to pregnancy in rats, pregnancy in women does not result in a restraint of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to psychosocial stress. Furthermore, attenuated alpha-amylase stress response might reflect protective processes within the autonomic nervous system during pregnancy, whereas prolonged cortisol recovery during the beginning of second-trimester pregnancy might be associated with the vulnerability to stress-related pregnancy complications during this period of time.
Ada Nierop; Aliki Bratsikas; Ariadne Klinkenberg; Urs M Nater; Roland Zimmermann; Ulrike Ehlert
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2006-01-24
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism     Volume:  91     ISSN:  0021-972X     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab.     Publication Date:  2006 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2006-04-07     Completed Date:  2006-05-01     Revised Date:  2008-11-21    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0375362     Medline TA:  J Clin Endocrinol Metab     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1329-35     Citation Subset:  AIM; IM    
Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Zurich, Zurichbergstrasse 43, CH-8044 Zurich, Switzerland.
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MeSH Terms
Heart Rate / physiology
Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
Pregnancy Trimester, Second / metabolism*
Pregnancy Trimester, Third / physiology
Saliva / chemistry*
Stress, Psychological / enzymology,  metabolism*
alpha-Amylases / metabolism*
Reg. No./Substance:
50-23-7/Hydrocortisone; EC

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