HPA axis responsiveness in adolescence and its relationship with anxiety, asthma and atopy

Lisha van Reyk

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    102 Downloads (Pure)


    [Truncated abstract] Introduction The western world has seen a dramatic increase in the prevalence of asthma in the past few decades, and while there is no doubt that factors associated with the "western way of life" are involved; the precise cause remains elusive. Besides environmental and physical factors, psychosocial factors may also play a part. Epidemiological studies have demonstrated associations between life stresses, quality of social relationships and health outcomes. This insight has emerged in parallel with increased understanding of the substantial role of the social environment and social integration in health and disease in general. One possible link between psychological stress and physical disease may involve the Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is a key neuroendocrine system that is activated during many forms of stress. There is evidence to suggest that an appropriate HPA response to stressful stimuli is important in the control of the immune system. Corticosteroids have powerful immunomodulatory effects and are capable of modifying the initial immune responses to environmental allergens and influencing the development of memory responses. In addition chronic stress may result in the resetting of HPA axis responses to environmental stressors resulting in altered HPA axis responsiveness. Altered HPA responses have been associated with immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and atopic dermatitis. In attempt to further the understanding of this link between psychological stress and the biological aspect of allergic disease, this project measured HPA responsiveness in adolescents and related it to their gender, anxiety level and asthma and atopic status. ... This is seen with trait anxiety also, with atopic subjects in the high trait anxiety group having the smallest change in salivary cortisol (p
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2007


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