Recent approaches to stress regulation have emphasized coordination among multiple biological systems. This study builds on evidence that hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity should be considered in coordination with other stress-sensitive biological systems to characterize healthy responses. Healthy African-Americans (n = 115) completed the Trier Social Stress Test, and biological responses were assessed through salivary cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S), alpha amylase (sAA), and C-reactive protein (sCRP). Multilevel modeling demonstrated that cortisol responses typically aligned with changes in DHEA-S, sAA, and sCRP across the session. At the same time, the degree of cortisol coordination with sAA and sCRP varied by participants' subjective stress following the task; participants with higher secondary stress appraisals showed greater cortisol-sAA alignment, whereas those experiencing more negative affect showed greater cortisol-sCRP alignment. Results highlight the importance of a multisystem approach to stress and suggest that positive HPA axis coordination with the autonomic response, but not with the immune/inflammatory response, may be adaptive.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology