Low-Grade Inflammation and Ambulatory Cortisol in Adolescents: Interaction Between Interviewer-Rated Versus Self-Rated Acute Stress and Chronic Stress

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To determine whether the association between self-rated or interviewer-rated recent acute stress exposures and low-grade inflammation and daily cortisol production in adolescents is moderated by chronic stress ratings.


Acute and chronic stress exposures were assessed in 261 adolescents aged 13 to 16 years using a semistructured life stress interview. The negative impact of acute stressors was independently rated by both adolescents (self-rated) and interviewers (interviewer-rated). Markers of inflammation (interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1ra, C-reactive protein) were measured from peripheral blood samples obtained via antecubital venipuncture. Participants collected 4 saliva samples at home on each of 6 consecutive days for the analysis of diurnal salivary cortisol profiles.


There were no main effects of acute stressors (self- and interviewer-rated) and chronic family or peer stress on adolescent inflammation markers and cortisol (p values > .10). However, the interaction between interviewer-rated acute stress and chronic family stress was significantly associated with adolescent inflammation markers (IL-6, IL-1ra). Specifically, as chronic family stress increased, the association between acute stressor impact (interviewer-rated) and inflammation markers became more positive (IL-6 (B = .054, SE = .023, p = .022); IL-1ra (B = .030, SE = .014, p = .034)). Interactions between self-rated acute stress and chronic family stress were not associated with any biological measures (p values > .10). Interactions between acute stressor impact (both self- and interviewer-rated) and chronic peer stress were also not significantly associated with any biological measures (p values > .05).


Among adolescents, interviewer-based ratings of acute stressor impact may allow for better prediction of health-relevant inflammation markers than adolescents' own ratings.

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