Associations of hair cortisol concentrations with paediatric appendicitis

Johanna Gudjonsdottir, Michaela Runnäs, Lars Hagander, Elvar Theodorsson, Martin Salö

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


The pathogenesis of paediatric appendicitis is still an enigma. In recent years, it has become more evident that our inherent immunological responses affect the trajectory of the disease course. Long-term stress has an impact on our immune system; however, it is practically and ethically challenging to prospectively track blood measurements of cortisol-levels in asymptomatic children should an acute appendicitis episode develop. The aim of this case–control study was therefore to evaluate the effect of increased stress measured as historical imprints in hair (hair cortisol concentrations [HCC]), on the risk of developing appendicitis and complicated appendicitis. 51 children (aged < 15 years) with appendicitis (34 with complicated appendicitis), were compared to 86 healthy controls. HCC reflecting the activity of the HPA-axis 0–3 and 4–6 months prior to sampling was evaluated and compared between groups as well as between the two measurements of each study subject. In the univariate analysis with both cases and controls, an increase in HCC between the measurement timepoints was associated with a substantial increase in risk of appendicitis (OR 7.52 [95% CI 2.49–22.67], p = 0.001). This increased risk remained in the multivariate analysis after adjustment for age, sex and season (aOR OR 10.76 [95%CI 2.50–46.28], p = 0.001). When comparing the cases of uncomplicated and complicated appendicitis through a multivariate analysis, adjusted for age and sex, the children with an increased HCC prior to appendicitis had a substantial and statistically significant increase in risk of complicated appendicitis (aOR 7.86 [95% CI 1.20–51.63], p = 0.03). Biological stress, measured as an increase in HCC, seems to be associated with an increased risk of paediatric appendicitis and a more complicated disease course.

TidskriftScientific Reports
StatusPublished - 2021

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Pediatrik
  • Folkhälsovetenskap, global hälsa, socialmedicin och epidemiologi


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