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Alpha-amylase is a hormone that controls the autonomic nervous system (sympathetic / parasympathetic). In its importance for the autonomic nervous system, it corresponds to that of cortisol for the HPA axis.

Alpha-amylase levels correlate with changes in cortisol levels.1

α-Amylase is secreted from the parotid gland (parotid gland, parotid gland or parotid gland) during adrenergic activity. α-Amylase is a marker of stress-induced adrenergic activity2 and of mean arterial pressure (MAP). Mean arterial pressure is the product of cardiac output and total peripheral resistance, reflecting organ perfusion. It represents a physiological measure of sympathetic activation.3

α-Amylase increases more rapidly than salivary cortisol during psychosocial stress.4 It is possible that only salivary alpha-amylase, but not blood alpha-amylase levels, are increased in response to an acute stressor, whereas both blood and salivary alpha-amylase levels respond in unison to pharmacological treatment. These differences do not exist for cortisol.

Alpha-amylase stress response is significantly increased in subjects with childhood trauma.5

Of 62 ADHD-affected children, the ADHD-HI type showed an identical cortisol level before venipuncture as nonaffected individuals, whereas the ADHD-I subtype showed an elevated cortisol level even before venipuncture compared with nonaffected individuals. Since basal cortisol levels are lower in both ADHD-I and ADHD-HI affected individuals than in nonaffected individuals, this could be an anxiety response in anticipation of the stressor.1 The same pattern was shown with respect to alpha-amylase as a representative of the vegetative nervous system.

Prolonged treatment with stimulants reduces cortisol and alpha-amylase levels in ADHD sufferers.6

The basal alpha-amylase progression corresponds to that of cortisol.

In boys with externalizing problems, the basal cortisol level also corresponds to the typical (decreasing) diurnal course, although this partly starts from a lower morning level. Oppositional defiant behavior (ODD) or ADHD, on the other hand, do not influence the cortisol diurnal course.7
However, externalizing behavior disorders in boys correlated with significantly decreased alpha-amylase levels.7

Subjects with a COMT Val158Val or a Met158Met gene polymorphism showed lower alpha-amylase levels than subjects with a COMT Val158Met gene polymorphism.7

  1. Angeli, Korpa, Johnson, Apostolakou, Papassotiriou, Chrousos, Pervanidou (2018):Salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase diurnal profiles and stress reactivity in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2018 Apr;90:174-181. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.02.026.

  2. van Stegeren, Rohleder, Everaerd, Wolf (2006): Salivary alpha amylase as marker for adrenergic activity during stress: effect of betablockade. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2006 Jan;31(1):137-41. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2005.05.012. PMID: 16046076.

  3. Bloomfield, McCutcheon, Kempton, Freeman, Howes (2019): The effects of psychosocial stress on dopaminergic function and the acute stress response. Elife. 2019 Nov 12;8:e46797. doi: 10.7554/eLife.46797. PMID: 31711569; PMCID: PMC6850765.

  4. Maruyama, Kawano, Okamoto, Ando, Ishitobi, Tanaka, Inoue, Imanaga, Kanehisa, Higuma, Ninomiya, Tsuru, Hanada, Akiyoshi (2012): Differences in salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol responsiveness following exposure to electrical stimulation versus the Trier Social Stress Tests. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e39375. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039375. PMID: 22859941; PMCID: PMC3408464.

  5. Kuras, McInnis, Thoma, Chen, Hanlin, Gianferante, Rohleder (2016): Increased alpha-amylase response to an acute psychosocial stress challenge in healthy adults with childhood adversity. Dev Psychobiol. 2017 Jan;59(1):91-98. doi: 10.1002/dev.21470.

  6. Ertugrul, Kirzioglu, Aktepe, Savas (2018): The effects of psychostimulants on oral health and saliva in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A case-control study. Niger J Clin Pract. 2018 Sep;21(9):1213-1220. doi: 10.4103/njcp.njcp_385_17.

  7. Angyal, Halasz, Meszaros, Kovacs, Kruk, Nemoda (2016): Potential salivary biomarkers and their genetic effects in a pilot study of adolescent boys with externalizing problems. Neuropsychopharmacol Hung. 2016 Dec;18(4):173-179.

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