Perceived stress and physiological dysregulation in older adults

Noreen Goldman, Dana A. Glei, Christopher Seplaki, I. Wen Liu, Maxine Weinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


We use a population-based representative sample of older Taiwanese to investigate links between respondents' perceived levels of stress and a broad set of biological measures. These biomarkers were collected at a single time (2000) and reflect sympathetic nervous system (SNS)-activity, hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-activity, immune function, cardiovascular function, and metabolic pathways. We model the relationship between perceived stress and (1) extreme values for each of 16 individual biological indicators; and (2) a measure of cumulative physiological dysregulation based on the full set of biomarkers. We consider two measures of perceived stress, one derived from the 2000 interview and the second based on data from three interviews (1996-2000). Age and sex-adjusted models reveal significant associations between measures of perceived stress and extreme values of cortisol, triglycerides, interleukin-6 (IL-6), dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) and fasting glucose. Examined individually, numerous biomarkers, including those pertaining to blood pressure and obesity, are not significantly related to perceived stress. Jointly, however, the measure of cumulative physiological dysregulation is associated with both the level of perceived stress at a given time and to a longitudinal measure of perceived stress. Some results suggest that the relationship between level of perceived stress and physiological response is stronger for women than men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-105
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Physiology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Aging
  • Allostatic load
  • Biomarkers
  • Perceived stress
  • Physiological dysregulation
  • Physiological parameters


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