Salivary latent trait cortisol (LTC): Relation to lipids, blood pressure, and body composition in middle childhood

Ellen W. Yeung, Rebecca Place, Heather Gordish-Dressman, Paul Visich, Eric Hoffman, Sheila O. Walker, Douglas A. Granger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Adversity experienced early in life has the potential to influence physical health later in life. The stress-health relation may be partially explained by stress-related effects on cardiovascular risk factors. This study explored links between individual differences in trait-like variation in the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis with cardiovascular risk factors in children. 474 children (M age = 9.22 years; 54% female 83% Caucasian) were included in this study, in which cardiovascular risk was assessed using the following indices - triglycerides (TG), HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C), glucose (Glu); resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio, and % fat. Saliva samples were measured 3 times a day (waking, 30 min post-waking and bedtime) over 3 days (later assayed for cortisol). A latent trait cortisol (LTC) factor explained 43% of the variance in cortisol levels within and across days. Confirmatory factor analysis identified three cardiovascular risk factors: lipids (i.e., TG and HDL-C), blood pressure (i.e., systolic and diastolic), and body composition (i.e., BMI, Waist-to-hip ratio, and % fat). Lower salivary LTC was associated with higher lipids, higher blood pressure, and higher body composition. The findings further support the internal and external validity of the LTC construct, and may also advance our understanding of the link between interindividual differences in HPA axis activity and cardiovascular risk in middle childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-118
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Blood pressure
  • Body composition
  • Latent trait cortisol (LTC)
  • Lipids
  • Middle childhood
  • Toxic stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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