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    A number of different laboratory procedures investigate the hormonal response in a standardized pharmacological challenge test (dexamethasone-corticotropin releasing hormone; DEX-CRH) or in a psychosocial stress induction on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis by the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). However, the magnitude of the response related to the different stressors and the interaction of the responsiveness between the two tests is still unclear. Fifty-two participants underwent both the DEX-CRH test and the TSST on two separate days. The cortisol and the plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) release were assessed before and after the stress tests. For a specification of the cortisol response to both conditions, subgroups of high- and low-cortisol responders to the TSST and the DEX-CRH test were formed. The healthy participants showed a substantial increase in the ACTH and the cortisol concentration after the two tests. This increase was 3 times greater in the TSST than the DEX-CRH test. High responders in both tests demonstrated a higher factor of the cortisol reactivity ratio (TSST/DEX-CRH test). Psychosocial stress as induced by the TSST was associated with a significantly greater increase in cortisol compared to the DEX-CRH test, even though the ACTH response displayed no differences. Our findings indicate an interaction of the hormonal responsiveness between the two tests with regard to the cortisol patterns. © 2021 The Authors. PsyCh Journal published by Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.


    Katja Petrowski, Benedict Herhaus, Rupert Conrad, Stefan R Bornstein. Hormonal responsiveness in the Trier Social Stress Test and the dexamethasone-corticotropin releasing hormone test in healthy individuals. PsyCh journal. 2021 Apr;10(2):305-317

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    PMID: 33511783

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