Diurnal patterns of salivary cortisol and DHEA in adolescent anorexia nervosa.Stress. 2012 Nov; 15(6):601-7.S
Although there is well-documented evidence for hyperactivity of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function in anorexia nervosa (AN), there has been little research into secretory patterns of salivary cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in this condition. The cortisol awakening response (CAR), a prominent and discrete feature of the cortisol cycle, has not been extensively explored in adolescent AN. Saliva samples were collected at awakening, 30 min and 12 h post-awakening on two consecutive weekdays from eight female adolescents with clinically diagnosed AN and 41 healthy control (HC) age-matched females. Adolescent AN patients had greater salivary cortisol and DHEA concentrations than HC girls at all points. Increased hormone secretion was unrelated to body mass index. However, despite hypersecretion of both hormones, the circadian pattern including the CAR paralleled that of the HC group. Findings from this preliminary study confirm dysregulation of HPA axis function in adolescent AN as evidenced by hypersecretion of both cortisol and DHEA, which share the common secretagogue adrenocorticotropic hormone. However, the parallel diurnal profiles for AN and HC participants, including the CAR, may indicate hypersecretion per se rather than differential regulation of the diurnal pattern of these two adrenal steroids in AN.