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Ultradian rhythmicity of plasma cortisol is necessary for normal emotional and cognitive responses in man

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E4091-E4100
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume115
Issue number17
Early online date9 Apr 2018
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Mar 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Apr 2018
DatePublished (current) - 24 Apr 2018

Abstract

Glucocorticoids (GCs) are secreted in an ultradian, pulsatile pattern that emerges from delays in the feedforward-feedback interaction between the anterior pituitary and adrenal glands. Dynamic oscillations of GCs are critical for normal cognitive and metabolic function in the rat and have been shown to modulate the pattern of GC-sensitive gene expression, modify synaptic activity, and maintain stress responsiveness. In man, current cortisol replacement therapy does not reproduce physiological hormone pulses and is associated with psychopathological symptoms, especially apathy and attenuated motivation in engaging with daily activities. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that the pattern of GC dynamics in the brain is of crucial importance for regulating cognitive and behavioral processes. We provide evidence that exactly the same dose of cortisol administered in different patterns alters the neural processing underlying the response to emotional stimulation, the accuracy in recognition and attentional bias toward/away from emotional faces, the quality of sleep, and the working memory performance of healthy male volunteers. These data indicate that the pattern of the GC rhythm differentially impacts human cognition and behavior under physiological, nonstressful conditions and has major implications for the improvement of cortisol replacement therapy.

    Research areas

  • Emotional processing, FMRI study, Glucocorticoid rhythmicity, Human brain

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    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via PANAS at http://www.pnas.org/content/115/17/E4091. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

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