The authors report they have no financial relationships within the past 3 years to disclose.
Gender differences in the effect of early life trauma on hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis functioning†
Article first published online: 16 FEB 2011
© 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Depression and Anxiety
Volume 28, Issue 5, pages 383–392, May 2011
How to Cite
DeSantis, S. M., Baker, N. L., Back, S. E., Spratt, E., Ciolino, J. D., Moran-Santa Maria, M., Dipankar, B. and Brady, K. T. (2011), Gender differences in the effect of early life trauma on hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis functioning. Depress. Anxiety, 28: 383–392. doi: 10.1002/da.20795
- Issue published online: 29 APR 2011
- Article first published online: 16 FEB 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 31 DEC 2010
- Manuscript Revised: 29 DEC 2010
- Manuscript Received: 6 JUL 2010
- HPA axis;
- hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis;
Background: The objective of this study was to examine the modifying effect of gender on the association between early life trauma and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis response to a pharmacologic challenge and a social stress task in men and women. Participants (16 men, 23 women) were the control sample of a larger study examining HPA axis function. Individuals with major depressive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or psychotic or eating disorders were excluded. Methods: In two test sessions, subjects received 1 µg/kg of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) intravenously and participated in the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Primary outcomes included plasma cortisol and corticotropin levels measured at baseline and more than five time points following the challenges. Predictors included gender and early life trauma, as measured by the Early Trauma Index. Using factor analysis, the domains general trauma, severe trauma, and the effects of trauma were established. Using regression, these constructs were used to predict differential HPA reactivity in men and women following the challenges. Results: The three factors accounted for the majority of the variance in the ETI. Following the CRH challenge, women had higher overall corticotropin response as dictated by the area under the curve analysis. There were no significant associations between trauma and neuroendocrine response to the TSST. Conclusions: CRH challenge results indicate that gender differences in the impact of early trauma may help explain the differential gender susceptibility to psychopathology following adverse childhood events. This may help explain gender differences in some stress-sensitive psychiatric disorders. Depression and Anxiety, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.