Scientific article
Open access

Exploring associations between diurnal cortisol, stress, coping and psychopathology in adolescents and young adults with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome

Published inComprehensive psychoneuroendocrinology, vol. 9, 100103
First online date2021-12-15

Background 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is a neurogenetic condition associated to a high risk for psychiatric disorders, including psychosis. Individuals with 22q11DS are thought to experience increased levels of chronic stress, which could lead to alterations in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA)-axis functioning. In the current study, we investigated for the first time diurnal salivary cortisol profiles in adolescents and young adults with 22q11DS as well as their link with stress exposure, coping strategies and psychopathology, including psychotic symptoms. Methods Salivary cortisol was collected from adolescents and young adults with 22q11DS (n = 30, age = 19.7) and matched healthy controls (HC; n = 36, age = 18.5) six times a day for two days. Exposure to stressful life events, including peer victimization, coping strategies and general psychopathology were assessed with questionnaires. Psychotic symptoms and psychiatric comorbidities were evaluated with clinical interviews. Results We observed similar daily levels and diurnal profiles of salivary cortisol in adolescents and young adults with 22q11DS compared to HCs. However, participants with 22q11DS reported less frequent exposure to stress than HCs. In 22q11DS, we observed a significant association between the use of non-adaptive coping strategies and the severity of psychotics symptoms. Cortisol level was not associated to severity of psychotic symptoms, but elevated cortisol awakening response (CAR) was found in participants with 22q11DS with higher levels of general psychopathology. Conclusions Our results do not support earlier propositions of altered HPA-axis functioning in 22q11DS but highlight the need to further investigate diurnal cortisol as an indicator of HPA-axis functioning and its link with (earlier) stress exposure and psychopathology in this population. Interventions should target the development of adaptive coping skills in preventing psychosis in 22q11DS.

  • Diurnal cortisol
  • HPA-axis
  • Stress exposure
  • Coping strategies
  • Psychopathology
  • Psychosis
Citation (ISO format)
ILEN, Laura et al. Exploring associations between diurnal cortisol, stress, coping and psychopathology in adolescents and young adults with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. In: Comprehensive psychoneuroendocrinology, 2021, vol. 9, p. 100103. doi: 10.1016/j.cpnec.2021.100103
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2666-4976

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