A pilot study examining the relationship between stress and serum cortisol concentrations in women with asthma

B. L. Laube, Barbara A. Curbow, Richard W. Costello, Sheila T. Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The mechanism (s) by which stress exacerbates asthma is unknown. One explanation could be a reduction in endogenous serum cortisol concentrations as a result of stress. Our objective was to determine if a reduction in morning serum cortisol concentrations is associated with higher levels of stress in women with asthma. In this pilot study, seven women with a history of allergic-asthma were prospectively assigned to either low, moderate, or high stress groups based on a combination of their level of current stress and their resources to cope with the stress. After stress group assignment, women donated a morning blood sample, which was analyzed for serum cortisol concentration by an independent laboratory whose personnel were blinded to the subjects'stress status.Three women were assigned to the low stress group, two to the moderate stress group and two to the high stress group. Serum cortisol concentrations ranged from 8 to 23 μg/dl, averaging 14 ± 6 μg/dl. A Spearman rank correlation indicated that serum cortisol concentrations were significantly inversely related to the stress groupings (rs = -0.915; P = 0.025). These results suggest that a reduction in morning serum cortisol concentration may be associated with higher levels of stress and lower resources to cope with the stress in women with allergic-asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-828
Number of pages6
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Volume96
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2002

Keywords

  • Asthma
  • Cortisol
  • Stress
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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