The Adrenal Stress Profile uses a non-invasive salivary test to monitor the activity of the adrenal cortex and its ability to react to stress. The test monitors the circadian variation of cortisol and DHEA-S levels. An increased cortisol level, a decreased DHEA-S level, or a decrease in the DHEA-S/cortisol ratio is an indication of a chronically stressful physical or mental condition.
Secretion of cortisol, regulated by the sleep-wake cycle, is characterized by a steep increase in the early morning, followed by a gradual tapering off until late evening. Stress causes elevated cortisol levels, which continue as long as the stressor is present. Stress also overrides negative feedback of cortisol in the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenocortex (HPA) axis. Prolonged stress, causing increased secretion of cortisol, may lead to hypertrophy of the adrenal cortex over time.
Among other functions, DHEA serves as a metabolic intermediate in the pathway for synthesis of testosterone, estrone, and estradiol in the adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes. Since DHEA in plasma has a very short half-life, most of circulating DHEA is in the sulfate form (DHEA-S). DHEA-S provides a ready source of DHEA for the production of estrogens and androgens.