alexa A meta-analysis of cortisol response to challenge in human aging: importance of gender.
Bioinformatics & Systems Biology

Bioinformatics & Systems Biology

Journal of Phylogenetics & Evolutionary Biology

Author(s): Otte C, Hart S, Neylan TC, Marmar CR, Yaffe K,

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Abstract An increased cortisol response to challenge is associated with a variety of age-related disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, depression, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension. Among the healthy elderly, an increased cortisol response to challenge may be a risk factor for developing these age-related disorders. We searched Pubmed, Embase, PsychInfo, Biosis, and Digital Dissertations (January 1966-June 2003) and included 45 parallel-group (young vs. old subjects) studies that used either a pharmacological or psychological challenge in healthy volunteers and measured cortisol response to challenge. We calculated effect sizes (Cohen's d) for the standardized mean differences between groups. Compared to younger controls (n=670, mean age 28 years +/-5), older subjects (n=625, 69+/-6) showed a larger cortisol response to challenge defined as stronger response to stimulation or less inhibition after a suppression test (d=0.42, 95\% confidence interval (CI), 0.26-0.57). The effect of age on cortisol release was significantly stronger in women (d=0.65, 95\% CI 0.34-0.97) than men (d=0.24, 95\% CI 0.02-0.47). Our results demonstrate that aging increases the cortisol response to challenge. This effect of age on cortisol response is almost three-fold stronger in women than men. Prospective studies should explore whether the higher cortisol response in the elderly is a risk factor for developing neuropsychiatric and medical disorders. This article was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology and referenced in Journal of Phylogenetics & Evolutionary Biology

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