Cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate/cortisol ratio responses to physical stress in males are influenced by pubertal development.

Research paper by L L Di Luigi, L L Guidetti, C C Baldari, M C MC Gallotta, P P Sgrò, F F Perroni, F F Romanelli, A A Lenzi

Indexed on: 23 Nov '06Published on: 23 Nov '06Published in: Journal of Endocrinological Investigation


To evaluate the influence of chronological age and pubertal development on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response to stress, we studied the possible correlations between male pubertal characteristics and salivary cortisol (C), DHEAS and the DHEAS/C ratio before (pre-stress) and after acute exercise-stress in young male volunteers (no. 87; 13.3+/-2.1 yr). In our overall study population, the mean pre-stress salivary C and DHEAS concentrations, significantly increased after exercise-related stress, whereas the DHEAS/C ratio significantly decreased. Pre-stress salivary C was positively correlated with chronological age, and after-stress salivary C concentration variations were negatively correlated with pubertal stage, mean testis volume and pre-stress salivary DHEAS. Furthermore, salivary DHEAS concentrations and the DHEAS/C ratio, before and after exercise stress, were positively correlated with chronological age, pubertal stage, pre-stress salivary testosterone (T), testis volume and body mass index (BMI). In contrast with late pubertal stages (P4, P5), young individuals at early stages of puberty (P1 to P3) showed higher C increase and lower DHEAS/C ratio after exercise-related stress. In conclusion, since C is also a mediator of stress-related negative effects on health and the DHEAS/C ratio has been hypothesized as an index for the degree to which an individual is buffered against the negative effects of stress, these data might suggest potentially increased stress-related risks at early stages of male puberty.