Examining the relationship between hair cortisol with stress-related and transdiagnostic subclinical measures.

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Background: Hair cortisol concentrations (HCC) provide a retrospective examination of long-term cortisol production as a measure of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning, one of the major neural systems implicated in mediating the effects of stress on mental illness. However, evidence about the relationship between HCC with stressors and symptoms is scattered. In the present study, we aimed to examine the association between HCC and a wide range of stress-related and transdiagnostic subclinical measures in a sample of non-clinical young adults with a wide distribution of schizotypy. Methods: A total sample of 132 non-clinical young adults recruited at college and technical schools oversampled for schizotypy scores were assessed on distal and proximal stressful experiences, appraisals of stress, traits and symptoms of the affective, psychosis and dissociation spectrums, as well as stress-buffering measures, and provided 3 cm-hair samples. Results: No significant associations were found between HCC and any of the stress-related and subclinical measures. Only suspiciousness and disorganization showed a trend for a positive association with HCC but the magnitude was small. Conclusions: The present findings support previous studies indicating an overall lack of concordance between a broad range of stress-related and (sub)clinical phenotypic measures with hair cortisol. This study examined for the first time the relationship of HCC with the non-clinical expression of the psychosis spectrum, that is, schizotypy, which complements previous studies on clinical high risk and established psychosis and offers a promising strategy for studying possible HPA dysfunctions characterizing the subclinical psychosis continuum without the confounds associated to clinical psychosis
Original languageEnglish
Article number746155
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2021


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