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Day-to-day coordination of the stress and reproductive axes: A continuous-time analysis of within-person testosterone and cortisol relationships in athletic and healthy men
Blair T Crewther , Martin Hecht, Rachel L Grillot, Adar B Eisenbruch, Tikal Catena, Neill Potts, Liam Kilduff , Christian J Cook, Dario Maestripieri, James R Roney
Physiology and Behavior, Volume: 263, Start page: 114104
Swansea University Author: Liam Kilduff
Accepted Manuscript under embargo until: 31st January 2024
DOI (Published version): 10.1016/j.physbeh.2023.114104
Day-to-day coordination of the stress (i.e., hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal [HPA]) and reproductive (i.e., hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal [HPG]) axes is central to allostatic regulation, reproductive success, and survival. Reports of positive, within-person testosterone and cortisol relationships (o...
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Day-to-day coordination of the stress (i.e., hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal [HPA]) and reproductive (i.e., hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal [HPG]) axes is central to allostatic regulation, reproductive success, and survival. Reports of positive, within-person testosterone and cortisol relationships (or coupling) suggest cross-talk of a facilitative nature, but longitudinal evidence is scarce and has methodological and analytical limitations. To address this, we used a continuous-time (CT) model to investigate day-to-day, within-person coupling of testosterone and cortisol in two male cohorts. Salivary testosterone and cortisol fluctuations were monitored in 35 athletic men across two international tournaments (M = 19.3 tests) and in 41 healthy men during normal daily living (M = 27.9 tests). Bayesian CT analysis revealed a diminishing effect of each hormone on itself as time-interval length or lag increased. In both groups, cortisol had a negative lagged effect on testosterone that persisted for around three days. The cortisol effect on testosterone peaked after 0.71 and 0.51 days in athletic (standardized estimate = -0.13) and healthy men (standardized estimate = -0.11), respectively. Further estimates of non-lagged, contemporaneous correlations revealed positive testosterone and cortisol relationships (athlete r = 0.04, healthy r = 0.46). In summary, complex within-person HPA and HPG interplay emerged in two independent male cohorts. Specifically, a rising cortisol concentration was linked to a fall in testosterone concentration at later time points, but concurrently these hormones tended to rise and fall together. Our results suggest that inhibitory and facilitatory hormonal actions coexist on varying timescales, thereby expanding knowledge of HPG and HPA cross-talk in everyday life.
Androgens; Glucocorticoids; Neuroendocrine; State-space modeling; Sport; Rugby
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Funding for the athlete project was provided by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and UK Sports Council, as part of the Elite Sport Performance Research in Training with Pervasive Sensing Programme [EP/H009744/1], and the Scottish Rugby Union.