The effects of early life adversity can be observed across the lifespan, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axes could be mechanistic intermediaries underlying this phenomenon. The current study examined 50 adolescent males aged 12-18 in a maximum-security correctional and treatment setting. Saliva samples were collected five times a day for 2 days and assayed for cortisol, testosterone, and DHEA. Youth completed semi-structured life stress interviews and self-reports of child maltreatment to index adversity. When youth had higher testosterone levels, they had higher cortisol and DHEA levels, indicating positive "coupling" of the HPA-HPG axes. In addition, children experiencing greater life adversity had tighter coupling of the HPA-HPG axes. Additional analyses hint that coupling may be driven largely by HPG axis functioning. Results indicate that positive coupling of the HPA-HPG axis is observed within incarcerated adolescents, especially for those with the greatest life stress.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Developmental Biology
- Behavioral Neuroscience