School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Precision Health
Salivary cortisol dysrhythmias have been reported in some, but not all studies assessing hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis function in Huntington’s disease (HD). These differences are presumed to be due to environmental influences on temporal salivary cortisol measurement. Further exploration of HPA-axis function using a more stable and longer-term measure, such as hair cortisol, is needed to confirm earlier findings. This study aimed to evaluate hair and salivary cortisol concentrations and their associations with clinical and lifestyle outcomes in individuals with premanifest HD (n = 26) compared to healthy controls (n = 14). Participants provided saliva and hair samples and data were collected on clinical disease outcomes, mood, cognition, physical activity, cognitive reserve, sleep quality and social network size to investigate relationships between clinical and lifestyle outcomes and cortisol concentrations. Hair and salivary cortisol concentrations did not significantly differ between the premanifest HD and control groups. No significant associations were observed between hair or salivary cortisol concentrations and cognitive, mood or lifestyle outcomes. However, hair cortisol concentrations were significantly associated with disease outcomes in individuals with premanifest HD. Significant associations between hair cortisol concentrations and measures of disease burden and onset may suggest a potential disease marker and should be explored longitudinally in a larger sample of individuals with HD.
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Neuroscience and neurorehabilitation