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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02570

Normalized cortisol reactivity predicts future neuropsychological functioning in children with mild/moderate asthma

 Robert D. Annett1*,  Sarah M. Dinces2, Lauren N. Rowell2, Jennifer Benson2, Sarah N. Hile2 and Akaysha C. Tang3
  • 1University of Mississippi Medical Center, United States
  • 2University of New Mexico, United States
  • 3The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Cortisol reactivity to adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) has been associated with neuropsychological processes including attention and memory in children with asthma. While cortisol reactivity to a psychological stressor is often considered a measure of current neuroendocrine functioning, this study examines the association of the cortisol reactivity and subsequent neuropsychological functioning. Using prospective data from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP), we explored the predictive ability of cortisol reactivity to ACTH and children’s later attention and memory using traditional and an alternative cortisol reactivity (normalized cortisol) measures. Cortisol reactivity was assessed at study entry and 1-year follow-up, and neuropsychological functioning was assessed at 3-year follow-up. Cortisol reactivity was assessed through plasma cortisol concentrations collected at baseline (CORTBASELINE) and 30 minutes post-ACTH challenge (CORTPOST-ACTH). An alternative measure of cortisol reactivity was developed through post-ACTH stimulation cortisol, normalized by cortisol by baseline (CORTNORM-ACTH). CORTBASELINE positively predicted year 3 attention, while CORTNORM-ACTH negatively predicted attention, suggesting convergence of cortisol variables in prediction of neuropsychological function. Year 1 CORTACTH positively predicted child memory at year 3; Year 1 CORTNORM-ACTH negatively predicted year 3 sustained attention. These findings demonstrate that HPA reactivity, including the application of normalized cortisol reactivity, can predict subsequent neuropsychological functioning of children with mild to moderate asthma.

Keywords: Children, Attention, Memory, Normalized cortisol, HPA response

Received: 15 Apr 2019; Accepted: 30 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Annett, Dinces, Rowell, Benson, Hile and Tang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Robert D. Annett, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, United States, rannett@umc.edu