Stress and heart diseases

Are people who are sensitive stress hormones are at a greater risk of developing heart diseases? A new study showed that there is much relation between the two.

A group of researchers revealed this in a paper presented at the 59th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting. The study looked at stress hormone sensitive and resistant people for helping clinicians better determine therapeutic outcomes and minimise adverse effects in those requiring glucocorticoid treatment. In the study, they found that the protein profile associated with glucocorticoid sensitivity included increased risk markers of stress-related disorders like stroke and heart attack.


Glucocorticoids are a group of hormones produced naturally in the body. They are essential for metabolism and healthy immune function. They also act as anti-inflammatories and routinely used to treat allergies, asthma and other conditions involving an overactive immune system.

Proteins are responsible for recognising, transporting and effecting the actions of hormones such as Glucocorticoids. Chronic stress has long been associated with an increased risk of developing cardio disease and stroke but the underlying physiological changes are not well understood.


Dr Nicolas Nicolaides and colleagues in the study looked at whether a set of proteins could be identified that would distinguish between GC sensitive and resistant people. The study involved 101 healthy volunteers. They were given a low dose of the GC, dexamethasone, then ranked from the most sensitive to most resistant, based on their blood cortisol levels the following morning. The samples from the top and bottom ten per cent were analysed using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry for the differences in protein profile between these groups. The sensitive group had 110 up-regulated and 66 down-regulated proteins compared with the resistant group. Of the up-regulated proteins in the sensitive group, several were associated with enhanced blood clotting, amyloid plaque formation in Alzheimer’s disease and immune function.

Dr Nicolaides claimed that the findings showed for the first time how how increased glucocorticoid sensitivity may be associated with stress-related disorders.


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