Effects of depressive and anxious symptoms on norepinephrine and platelet P-selectin responses to acute psychological stress among elderly caregivers

Aschbacher, Kirstin; Mills, Paul J; von Känel, Roland; Hong, Suzi; Mausbach, Brent T; Roepke, Susan K; Dimsdale, Joel E; Patterson, Thomas L; Ziegler, Michael G; Ancoli-Israel, Sonia; Grant, Igor (2008). Effects of depressive and anxious symptoms on norepinephrine and platelet P-selectin responses to acute psychological stress among elderly caregivers. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 22(4), pp. 493-502. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.bbi.2007.10.002

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BACKGROUND: Caring for a spouse with Alzheimer's disease is associated with increased psychological distress, impaired immunity, and heightened cardiovascular risk. Hyperreactivity of sympathetic and platelet activation responses to acute psychological stress, or the failure to recover quickly from stressful events, may constitute an important pathway linking stress and negative affect with cardiovascular disease (CVD). OBJECTIVES: (1) To evaluate associations between negative affect (i.e., depressive and anxious symptoms) with increased norepinephrine and P-selectin responses to an acute psychological stress task. (2) To establish whether these associations are augmented among elderly spousal caregivers (CG) compared to non-caregivers (NC). METHODS: Depressive (DEP) and anxious (ANX) symptoms from the Brief Symptom Inventory were assessed among 39 CG and 31 NC. Plasma norepinephrine levels (NE) and percent platelet P-selectin (PSEL) expression were assayed at three time-points: rest, immediately following a laboratory speech test (reactivity), and after 14 min of recovery. Results: Among CG, but not NC, increased symptoms of depression and anxiety were associated with delayed NE recovery (DEP: beta=.460, p=.008; ANX: beta=.361, p=.034), increased PSEL reactivity (DEP: beta=.703, p<.001; ANX: beta=.526, p=.002), and delayed PSEL recovery (DEP: beta=.372, p=.039; ANX: beta=.295, p=.092), while controlling for age, gender, aspirin use, antidepressant use, and preexisting CVD. Bivariate correlations showed delayed NE recovery was also associated with increased PSEL reactivity (r=.416) and delayed PSEL recovery (r=.372; all ps<.05) among CG but not NC. DISCUSSION: Among chronically stressed caregivers, increased levels of depressive and anxious symptoms are associated with prolonged sympathetic activation and pronounced platelet activation. These changes may represent one pathway linking caregiving stress to cardiovascular risk.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology > Centre of Competence for Psychosomatic Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

von Känel, Roland










Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:06

Last Modified:

17 Mar 2015 22:22

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Web of Science ID:



https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/29011 (FactScience: 132950)

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