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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Brian Walker
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).
© The Author(s) 2020. Life-course experiences have been postulated to program hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity, suggesting that HPA axis activity is, at least partially, stable over time. Yet, there is paucity of data on the long-term stability of cortisol production and metabolism. We performed a prospective follow-up study in twins recruited from a nationwide register to estimate the stability of cortisol production and metabolism over time, and the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to this stability. In total, 218 healthy mono- and dizygotic twins were included. At the ages of 9, 12 and 17 years, morning urine samples were collected for assessment (by gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry) of cortisol metabolites, enabling the calculation of cortisol metabolite excretion rate and cortisol metabolism activity. Our results showed a low stability for both cortisol metabolite excretion rate (with correlations <.20) and cortisol metabolism activity indices (with correlations of.25 to.46 between 9 and 12 years, -.02 to.15 between 12 and 17 years and.09 to.28 between 9 and 17 years). Because of the low stability over time, genetic and environmental contributions to this stability were difficult to assess, although it seemed to be mostly determined by genetic factors. The low stability in both cortisol production and metabolism between ages 9 and 17 years reflects the dynamic nature of the HPA axis.
Author(s): van Keulen BJ, Dolan CV, Andrew R, Walker BR, Hulshoff Pol HE, Boomsma DI, Rotteveel J, Finken MJJ
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Twin Research and Human Genetics
Print publication date: 01/02/2020
Online publication date: 25/03/2020
Acceptance date: 31/01/2020
Date deposited: 20/02/2020
ISSN (print): 1832-4274
ISSN (electronic): 1839-2628
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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