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Cross-Country Differences in Basal and Stress-Induced Cortisol Secretion in Older Adults

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journal contribution
posted on 24.05.2021, 20:49 by Alexandra J. Fiocco, Juliana N. Souza-Talarico, Pierrich Plusquellec, Sonia J. Lupien, Deborah Suchecki
Objective: Several studies have emphasized the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and inadequate response of the biological stress system. However, other factors related to SES are rarely considered, such as cultural values, social norms, organization, language and communication skills, which raises the need to investigate cross-country differences in stress response. Although some studies have shown differences in cortisol levels between immigrants and natives, there is no cross-country evidence regarding cortisol levels in country-native elders. This is particularly important given the high prevalence of stress-related disorders across nations during aging. The current study examined basal diurnal and reactive cortisol levels in healthy older adults living in two different countries.
Methods: Salivary cortisol of 260 older adults from Canada and Brazil were nalyzed. Diurnal cortisol was measured in saliva samples collected at home throughout two working days at awakening, 30 min after waking, 1400 h, 1600 h and before bedtime. Cortisol reactivity was assessed in response to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) in both populations. Results Our results showed that even under similar health status, psychological and cognitive characteristics, Brazilian elders exhibited higher basal and stress-induced cortisol secretion compared to the Canadian participants. Conclusion: These findings suggest that country context may modulate cortisol secretion and could impact the population health.

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