Cortisol response to a psychosocial stressor in schizophrenia: Blunted, delayed, or normal
Exclusive author commentary
King S et al. - Despite demonstrable effects of the stressor on cardiac measures, schizophrenia patients tend to have smaller acute cortisol reaction to psychosocial stress. The significance of this conclusion for vulnerability-stress models of schizophrenia is discussed.
S. King & K. Brenenr (07/08/2009) comments:
This article aimed to determine to what extent stress reactivity can distinguish between schizophrenia patients and non clinical participants (who may present some psychotic symptoms) when the severity of psychotic symptoms, the type of personality and body mass index are controlled for. Results show that baseline cortisol and cardiac measures are similar in both groups, while the acute stress reaction is smaller in patients and discriminates between the two groups. This article highlights the importance of using more than one physiological measure when studying reactive cortisol, as different measures might not necessarily correlate. Also, most studies on cortisol reaction in schizophrenia don’t control for important variables, such as symptom presentation in both groups, but the present article does, making its results more robust. Finally, the acute cortisol reaction to stress can be conceptualized as a marker of a threshold in the vulnerability stress model, allowing us to distinguish between clinical and non clinical individuals on the continuum of the psychosis.