Psychophysiological biomarkers of workplace stressors

Tarani Chandola, Alexandros Heraclides, Meena Kumari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Workplace stressors are associated with greater coronary heart disease risk, although there is debate over the psychophysiological consequences of work stress. This study builds on recent reviews and examines the literature linking work stress with sympatho-adrenal biomarkers (plasma catecholamines and heart rate variability) and HPA axis biomarkers - the post-morning profile of cortisol. Methods: Relevant studies using appropriate search terms were searched using the bibliographic databases PubMed, Embase, Biosys and Toxline. Four studies on plasma catecholamines, 10 studies on heart rate variability, and 16 studies on post-morning cortisol were reviewed. Results: In the majority of studies that examined the association of HRV and work stress, greater reports of work stress is associated with lower heart rate variability. The findings for plasma catecholamines and cortisol secretion are less clear cut and suffer from poorer quality of studies in general. Conclusion: There is evidence that work stress is related to elevated stress responses in terms of sympatho-adrenal and HPA axis biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


  • Catecholamines
  • Cortisol
  • HPA axis
  • Neuroendocrine
  • Work stress


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