African Health Sciences

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The relationship between serum cortisol, adrenaline, blood glucose and lipid profile of undergraduate students under examination stress.

IC Maduka, EE Neboh, SA Ufelle


Background: Stress is an extremely adaptive phenomenon in human beings and cortisol is a known stress hormone. Examination has been described as a naturalistic stressor capable of affecting human health.
Objectives: To estimate the relationship between serum cortisol, adrenaline, fasting blood glucose (FBG) and lipid profile during examination stress.
Methods: Two hundred and eight (208) apparently-healthy undergraduate students (aged, 24 ± 6 years) were involved in the study. Exactly 5 mls of venous blood was collected from each subject 1-3 hours before a major examination. A second assessment was done on the same students 3-4 weeks before any examination (control samples). Cortisol and adrenaline were assayed using ELISA techniques, FBG was assayed using enzymatic method while lipid parameters were assayed using standard enzymatic- spectrophotometric methods.
Results: There was statistically significant increase in serum cortisol, adrenaline, Total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels in students under examination stress compared to the non examination period (p=0.001, 0.013, 0.0001, 0.0001 and 0.0001, respectively). FBG showed no significant increase. There was also significant positive correlation (r=0.297, p=0.032) between serum cortisol and TC/HDL ratio (cardiac risk factor) before examination stress but not during the stress period.
Conclusions: Significant positive correlation was observed between cortisol and TC/HDL ratio before examination stress.

Key words: academic examination, stressors, cortisol, lipid profile
AJOL African Journals Online