Adrenal Stress Testing
Why Run the Adrenal Stress Test?
The adrenal glands are located near the kidneys and produce hormones responsible for a variety of functions in the body. Among those produced are the steroid hormones cortisol and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which contribute to metabolism and the immune response. The production of these hormones can be altered by internal and external stressors, and this can result in a wide variety of disorders.
What is Measured on the Adrenal Stress Test?
Dunwoody Labs™ offers a comprehensive test that evaluates two antibodies, secretory IgA and anti-gliadin IgA, to determine how well the adrenal glands are functioning and the cause of any fatigue or inflammation that may be associated with adrenal dysfunction. The Adrenal Stress Test: Profile 1600 is a non-invasive saliva test that provides a clinical “snapshot” of hormone function and immune function.
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” due to its role in the stress response. Cortisol helps regulate blood pressure, metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, anti-inflammatory response, blood sugar level (through gluconeogenesis), and the immune response (1,2). Normal cortisol production peaks in the early morning and gradually decreases throughout the day. However, stress and damage to the adrenal or pituitary glands have been shown to alter this production (3, 4, 5). Dunwoody Labs™ uses an accurate and non-invasive method for testing cortisol levels using saliva. Cortisol has been found unbound in saliva samples, indicating a strong correlation to cortisol concentrations in blood plasma (6). Four samples are collected from each patient in a 24-hour time frame: one early morning sample (within 30 minutes of waking), one noon sample (11 a.m.-1 p.m.), one afternoon sample (4 p.m.- 6 p.m.), and a final evening sample (10 p.m.-12 a.m.). The results are analyzed and available online in 10-14 days.
Symptoms of Cortisol Imbalance:
Common disorders of adrenal fatigue include:
- Addison’s disease
- Cushing’s syndrome, Cushing’s disease
- Sheehan’s syndrome
- Nelson’s syndrome
Low Cortisol levels can result in a range of symptoms which may include:
- Hypertension or hypotension
- Chronic fatigue and muscle weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abnormal blood sugar
- Blotchy skin
- Weight gain
- Irritability, anxiety or depression.
DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is another steroid hormone produced predominately in the adrenal glands. It is the most abundant circulating steroid and best known as a metabolic intermediate for the production of androgens and estrogens (7, 8). DHEA is also involved in anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and other immune system functions. For this reason, DHEA production is measured alongside cortisol production (9, 10). Unfavorable ratios of DHEA to cortisol have been linked to depression, anxiety, and other psycho-emotional disorders. They can even have an effect on HIV infection due to the immunocompromised state of the body (15, 16, 17). Like cortisol production, DHEA production is linked with the stress response and peaks in the early morning, gradually decreasing throughout the day (11). Tests for DHEA concentration are done on the saliva samples taken in the morning after the patient wakes up. Results typically take 10-14 days to be analyzed and uploaded.
Disorders Associated with DHEA Imbalance
Low DHEA production has been correlated with several disorders including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cardiovascular disease
High DHEA levels can result in several symptoms which may include:
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Abdominal pain
- Irregular heartbeats and heart palpitations
- Increased risk of developing certain kinds of Cancer
Secretory Immunoglobulin A
Secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) acts as the body’s first line of defense against enteric pathogens and toxins at the mucosal surfaces (18). It is a major player in mucosal immunity and is secreted in tear ducts, salivary glands, mammary glands, and gastrointestinal and respiratory systems (19). High sIgA has been seen in celiac disease, acute stress, heavy smoking, alcoholism, periodontal disease, and oropharyngeal carcinoma. Low levels have been detected in allergy and airway infections, asthma, recurrent infections, chronic stress, dental caries, repeated antibiotic treatments, bronchial hyperreactivity, and inflammatory bowel disease.
These disorders are strongly associated with abnormal sIgA:
- Celiac disease
- IgA nephropathy
- Recurring GI and respiratory tract infections
Anti-gliadin Immunoglobulin A
The Adrenal Stress Test by Dunwoody Labs measures anti-gliadin IgA, the immunological reaction to gliadin, in saliva. Gliadin is one of the two main components of wheat gluten and is similar to the proteins of rye and barley. Approximately 1 in 100 people have celiac disease worldwide, an autoimmune disease triggered by eating gliadin. There is growing awareness of non-celiac gluten sensitivity which shows similar symptoms to celiac disease but cannot be easily identified with diagnostic testing. Salivary anti-gliadin IgA can detect gluten sensitivity in a non-invasive manner, without a blood draw.
One in 5 people suffers from some level of gluten intolerance which may lead to:
- Joint pain
Gluten sensitivity can cause brain fog and general inflammation. More inflammation can contribute to the progression of almost any pathology or condition. When anti-gliadin antibody is positive, further testing for celiac disease may be warranted.
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