Patients with atopy exhibit attenuated neuroendocrine response during psychosocial stress
N. Hlavacova*a (Dr), P. Solarikovab (Dr), I. Brezinab (Dr), D. Jezovaa (Prof)
a Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, Biomedical Research Center, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, SLOVAKIA ; b Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, Comenius University, Bratislava, SLOVAKIA
Introduction: Chronic stress events may result in worsening the quality of life and consequent pathological states. Accordingly, psychosocial stress may represent a factor involved in both the onset of allergic disorders and the exacerbation of an existing allergic disease. In patients with atopy, a decreased responsiveness of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis to stress stimuli was documented (Buske-Kirschbaum et al. 2010). Less consistent are the results on the autonomic nervous system. The present study has focused on parameters related to the sympathetic nervous system function, namely the salivary enzyme alpha-amylase and the stress hormone aldosterone. We aimed to test the hypothesis that the blunted cortisol response to psychosocial stress in atopic patients is associated with changes in salivary alpha-amylase and aldosterone using a psychosocial stress procedure based on public speech. Material and methods: The study was performed in 106 subjects of both sexes, 53 atopic patients suffering from allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, or atopic dermatitis, and 53 age-, sex-, the menstrual cycle phase- and BMI- matched healthy controls. Volunteers were exposed to a laboratory model of psychosocial stress based on public speech. Results: In the whole sample of patients with atopy, a substantially attenuated activity of alpha-amylase and reduced secretion of aldosterone during the psychosocial stress were observed. The higher activity of alpha-amylase observed in the follicular compared to the luteal phase in healthy women was not present in atopic patients. Atopy was associated with blunted cortisol response but unchanged heart rate in both males and females. Psychological characterization revealed significantly higher trait anxiety and higher preference for avoidance-oriented coping strategy in female but not male atopic patients. Discussion: These findings provide evidence that patients with atopy exhibit insufficient alpha-amylase and aldosterone responsiveness to the psychosocial stressor, thus suggesting decreased sympathetic activity. Acknowledgments: The study was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency (grant number APVV-17-0451).
Reference: Buske-Kirschbaum A, Ebrecht M, Hellhammer DH. Blunted HPA axis responsiveness to stress in atopic patients is associated with the acuity and severeness of allergic inflammation. Brain Behav Immun. 2010 Nov;24(8):1347-53.
The author has declared no conflict of interest.