Salivary alpha-amylase stress reactivity across different age groups.Psychophysiology. 2010 May 01; 47(3):587-95.P
tract Salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) increases rapidly in response to psychosocial stress in young adults, but no direct comparisons between different age groups across the life span have been made. Secretion of sAA and cortisol was assessed in children, young adults, and older adults after exposure to the Trier Social Stress Test. Additionally, cardiovascular activity was measured in both adult groups. Older adults showed attenuated sAA, heart rate (HR), and heart rate variability (HRV) responses. Furthermore, we found higher sAA but lower cortisol at baseline as well as lower sAA and cortisol responses in children. Age x sex interactions were observed only for cortisol with higher responses in older male participants. No associations between the parameters were found. These results implicate sAA as an alternative or additional sympathetic stress marker throughout the life span, with marked and rapid stress responsiveness in three relevant age groups.