Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 117, Issue 5, pp 621–627

Negative association between plasma cortisol levels and aggression in a high-risk community sample of adolescents

  • Luise Poustka
  • Athanasios Maras
  • Erika Hohm
  • Johannes Fellinger
  • Martin Holtmann
  • Tobias Banaschewski
  • Sabina Lewicka
  • Martin H. Schmidt
  • Günter Esser
  • Manfred Laucht
Biological Psychiatry - Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00702-010-0386-7

Cite this article as:
Poustka, L., Maras, A., Hohm, E. et al. J Neural Transm (2010) 117: 621. doi:10.1007/s00702-010-0386-7

Abstract

In this study, the association of aggressive behavior and personality traits with plasma cortisol levels was investigated in a high-risk community sample of adolescents. Plasma cortisol levels were collected in 245 fifteen-year-olds (118 males, 127 females) from an epidemiological cohort study of children at risk for psychopathology. Additionally, measures of reactive and proactive aggression, externalizing behavior and callous-unemotional together with impulsive personality features were assessed. Both subtypes of aggression as well as delinquent behavior and impulsive personality traits showed significant negative correlations with plasma cortisol levels. This association was observed in males, but not in females. In both gender groups, callous-unemotional traits were unrelated to plasma cortisol levels. This result suggests that the association between cortisol levels and aggression in adolescents is mediated rather by impulsivity than by unemotional or psychopathic traits.

Keywords

Aggression Plasma cortisol Adolescence High-risk sample 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luise Poustka
    • 1
  • Athanasios Maras
    • 2
  • Erika Hohm
    • 1
  • Johannes Fellinger
    • 3
  • Martin Holtmann
    • 1
  • Tobias Banaschewski
    • 1
  • Sabina Lewicka
    • 4
  • Martin H. Schmidt
    • 1
  • Günter Esser
    • 5
  • Manfred Laucht
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and PsychotherapyCentral Institute of Mental HealthMannheimGermany
  2. 2.RMPI Academy, RMPI FoundationBarendrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Health Centre for the DeafLinzAustria
  4. 4.Institute of PharmacologyUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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