Journal of Neural Transmission | 2019

Hair cortisol concentration, cognitive, behavioral, and motor impairment in multiple sclerosis



Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by the demyelinated inflammatory processes that occur within the central nervous system. Hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA axis) dysfunctions have been associated with the triggering or increase in MS symptoms. We thus aimed at evaluating motor and behavioral functions, planning skills, processing speed, and their relationship with stress through measuring hair cortisol concentration from patients with MS. The sample was composed of 40 volunteers that were clinically diagnosed with MS, along with 33 healthy adults. Evaluations included: Clinical Evaluation Form, Mini-Mental State Exam, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite Measure, Expanded Disability Status Scale, Berg Balance Scale, Perceived Stress Scale, Zoo Map task, and a hair sample to analyze cortisol levels in the last 30 days. MS patients showed highly elevated hair cortisol levels in comparison to the control group (p\u2009=\u20090.048). All groups presented some degree of depressive and anxiety symptoms, aside from considerable perceived stress levels. The MS group presented deficits in gait, balance, manual skills and processing speed, and this was particularly so in individuals with moderate impairments when compared to control group (p\u2009<\u20090.001). Individuals with MS spent less time planning on ZooMap1 (p\u2009=\u20090.024) and made more mistakes (p\u2009<\u20090.001). No correlation was found between hair cortisol and the symptoms we assessed. However, depressive symptoms and anxiety were related to perceived stress, and higher hair cortisol suggests a change in levels in the HPA axis in MS. Nevertheless, future studies will be necessary to further understand how basal hair cortisol is related to MS symptoms.

Volume 126
Pages 1145 - 1154
DOI 10.1007/s00702-019-02040-w
Language English
Journal Journal of Neural Transmission

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