Hypothalamo-pituitary adrenal axis and sympatho-adrenal medullary system responses to psychological stress were not attenuated in women with elevated physical fitness levels.Endocrine. 2016 Feb; 51(2):369-79.E
It is not clear if higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with lower hypothalamo-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and sympatho-adrenal medullary (SAM) system reactivity to psychological stress in women. The association between cardio-metabolic risk markers and acute physiological responses to psychological stress in women who differ in their cardiorespiratory fitness status has also not been investigated. Women with high (n = 22) and low (n = 22) levels of fitness aged 30-50 years (in the mid-follicular phase of the menstrual cycle) were subjected to a Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) at 1500 h. Plasma concentrations of cortisol, adrenaline (Adr), noradrenaline (NA), and dopamine (DA) were measured in samples collected every 7-15 min from 1400 to 1700 h. Heart rate and blood pressure were measured at the same time points. Low-fit women had elevated serum triglyceride, cholesterol/HDL ratio, fasting glucose, and HOMA-IR levels compared with high-fit women. While cortisol, Adr, NA, HR, and blood pressure all demonstrated a significant response to the TSST, the responses of these variables did not differ significantly between high- and low-fit women in response to the TSST. Dopamine reactivity was significantly higher in the low-fit women compared with high-fit women. There was also a significant negative correlation between VO2 max and DA reactivity. These findings suggest that, for low-fit women aged 30-50 years, the response of HPA axis and SAM system to a potent acute psychological stressor is not compromised compared to that in high-fit women.