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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 32  |  Page : 108--113

Salivary chromogranin A as a measure of stress response to noise

Masamitsu Miyakawa1, Toshihito Matsui2, Hiroki Kishikawa2, Rumiko Murayama2, Iwao Uchiyama2, Toshihiro Itoh3, Takahiko Yoshida3,  
1 Department of Environmental Risk Management, Kibi International University, Japan
2 Department of Urban and Environmental Engineering, Kyoto University, Japan
3 Department of Health Science, Asahikawa Medical College, Japan

Correspondence Address:
Masamitsu Miyakawa
Department of Environmental Risk Management, Kibi International University
Japan

Abstract

Effects of noise on the secretion of salivary chromogranin A (CgA), which is considered to be a substitute measure of catecholamines, were investigated in a laboratory experiment. This study included 20 male subjects with normal hearing; their ages ranged from 21 to 24 years. Prior to the experiment, the subjects were asked to answer a questionnaire containing the 28-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) and Weinstein's noise sensitivity scale. White noise at 90 dB was presented to the subjects for 15 min with 15-minute-rest periods before and after noise exposure. It was shown that salivary CgA levels increased significantly during noise exposure and decreased immediately after it (Friedman's test, p = 0.001, two tailed). This result suggests that salivary CgA can be used to measure the stress response to noise. Furthermore, individual differences in the change in salivary CgA levels were discussed in relation to the subjective responses of the participants to the questionnaire. Some subjects showed prolonged elevation in the salivary CgA levels and the others showed immediate recovery or no effects. These individual differences correlated with the score on the somatic symptoms in GHQ-28; this implies that the score on the somatic symptoms in GHQ-28 could be a measure of physiological sensitivity to noise.



How to cite this article:
Miyakawa M, Matsui T, Kishikawa H, Murayama R, Uchiyama I, Itoh T, Yoshida T. Salivary chromogranin A as a measure of stress response to noise.Noise Health 2006;8:108-113


How to cite this URL:
Miyakawa M, Matsui T, Kishikawa H, Murayama R, Uchiyama I, Itoh T, Yoshida T. Salivary chromogranin A as a measure of stress response to noise. Noise Health [serial online] 2006 [cited 2020 Sep 27 ];8:108-113
Available from: http://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?2006/8/32/108/33951


Full Text

 Introduction



In recent years, levels of stress hormones (i.e., catecholamine and cortisol) have been used to evaluate the physiological effects of noise. [1] Many laboratory experiments and some epidemiological studies suggest that noise may elevate the stress hormone levels. [2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9] Salivary cortisol is often used as a stress index because its measurement has various advantages, such as a noninvasive collection procedure. However, the measurement of salivary catecholamines is rather difficult because of its low concentration and rapid degradation.

Chromogranin A (CgA) is a soluble protein, and its concentration can be measured in saliva. [10],[11] CgA is considered to be a substitute for catecholamines since CgA and catecholamines are co-released into the extracellular environment. Dimsdale et al., [12] for example, reported that the plasma CgA level correlates with the noradrenaline release rate. This result indicates that the plasma CgA level may be an index of the activity of the sympathetic/adrenomedullary (S/A) system.

Although sufficient information on the relationship between plasma CgA and salivary CgA is not available, salivary CgA is considered to be a measure of the activity of the S/A system. [13] Some papers reported a rapid and sensitive elevation of salivary CgA in response to psychosomatic stressors such as public speaking and driving a car. [14],[15]

In the present study, the effects of noise on salivary CgA were investigated in a laboratory experiment. Before and after the experiment, the subjects answered a questionnaire on their subjective health, noise sensitivity and annoyance to noise exposure. The relationships between the change in the salivary CgA levels and the subjective responses were examined.

 Materials and Methods



Subjects

This study included 20 male subjects with normal hearing; their ages ranged from 21 to 24 years. All subjects were nonsmokers. The subjects were asked to wake up at least 2 h before the experiment and to avoid intake of any medicine and caffeine on the day of the experiment. The purpose and procedure of the experiment were explained thoroughly, and written consent was obtained from all subjects.

Noise exposure

White noise at 90 dB was presented to the subjects through a headphone (SONY, MDR-Z600, Japan) for 15 min with 15-minute-rest periods before and after the noise exposure.

Frequency characteristics of the white noise generated by a noise generator (RION, SF-05, Japan) were adjusted using a graphic equalizer (SONY, MU-E331, Japan) in order that the noise exposure through the headphone was equivalent to free-field exposure. The frequency characteristics were monitored using a sound level meter (RION, NA-27, Japan), a head and torso simulator (Brel and Kjζr, Type 4128, Denmark) and its calibration chart [Figure 1].

Saliva sampling and salivary CgA determination

Saliva samples were collected six times during the experiment [Figure 2] using Salivette (Sarsted, Germany) and were frozen immediately. The samples were stored at -80C until analysis. The concentrations of CgA (pmol) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (Yanaihara Institute Inc., Japan) [10],[11] and standardized by total protein (mg). [16]

Questionnaire survey

Prior to the experiment, the subjects were asked to answer the 28-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) [17],[18] and Weinstein's noise sensitivity (WNS) scale. [19],[20] GHQ-28 is designed to evaluate mental health. It yields four subscales: somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction and severe depression. Weinstein's noise sensitivity scale, hereinafter referred to as WNS, has been widely used to evaluate noise sensitivity. The 10-question version of the WNS was used in this study.

After the experiment, the subjects were asked to evaluate their annoyance to the noise exposure based on the rating scale with five categories: 1) not at all annoyed, 2) slightly annoyed, 3) moderately annoyed, 4) very annoyed and 5) extremely annoyed.

 Results and Discussion



Change in the salivary CgA levels in response to noise exposure

[Figure 3] represents the change in the salivary CgA levels from the baseline ('Base' in [Figure 2]). Salivary CgA levels increased significantly during noise exposure and decreased immediately after noise exposure (Friedman's test, p = 0.001, two tailed). This result indicates that the salivary CgA levels can be used to measure the stress response to noise, the acute response in particular.

Individual differences in the change in salivary CgA levels

[Figure 3] shows large individual differences in the change in salivary CgA levels. Cluster analysis was applied to divide the 20 subjects into the following three groups [Figure 4]:

Unrecovered group (high-sensitivity group)-6 subjects

Salivary CgA levels increased during noise exposure and did not decrease at 15 min after it (Clusters A and B).Recovered group (mid-sensitivity group)-10 subjects

Salivary CgA levels increased during noise exposure and decreased immediately after it (Clusters C and D).No effects group (low-sensitivity group)-4 subjects

Salivary CgA levels did not increase during and after noise exposure (Cluster E).

The differences between the three groups may correlate with their physiological sensitivity to noise. The 'unrecovered group' may be regarded as a sensitive group in terms of the physiological response because prolonged elevation of salivary CgA levels was observed. On the other hand, the 'no effects group' may be regarded as an insensitive group because the salivary CgA levels did not increase even during the noise exposure. Therefore, it is reasonable to consider the three categories as an ordinal scale that shows physiological sensitivity to noise. In this paper, these three categories are hereinafter referred to as 'high-sensitivity group,' 'mid-sensitivity group,' and 'low-sensitivity group.'

Subjective response vs. physiological sensitivity to noise

The differences among the three groups were examined with regard to their responses to the questionnaires asked before and after the experiment. Jonckheere's test (Exact test) was applied to group comparisons. [Table 1] shows the results of the Jonckheere's tests.

The WNS score, which has been widely used to measure noise sensitivity, did not show significant association with the physiological sensitivity to noise (p = 0.562, two tailed). This result indicates that the WNS, which comprises questions regarding the psychological effects of noise, might not be a measure of noise sensitivity as far as physiological acute response is concerned.

No significant association was observed between the total GHQ-28 score and the three groups (p = 0.512, two tailed). However, a significant positive association was observed between the score on the somatic symptoms in GHQ-28 and the physiological sensitivity to noise (p = 0.049, two tailed, [Figure 5]). This result leads to the following two interpretations:

The physiological condition of the subjects in the high-sensitivity group was not good during the experiment.

Therefore, prolonged elevation in the salivary CgA levels was observed.The high-sensitivity group often has chronic somatic symptoms because of their high physiological sensitivity to environmental factors, including noise.

In either case, this result suggests that the score on the somatic symptoms in GHQ-28, which was originally used to evaluate subjects' health, could be a measure of the physiological sensitivity to noise.

A significant negative association was observed between the annoyance score and the physiological sensitivity to noise (p = 0.004, two tailed, [Figure 6]). Contrary to our expectations, the subjects reporting low annoyance showed high physiological acute response. In the case of the subjects reporting high annoyance, the high annoyance could induce the physiological response that inhibits the secretion of salivary CgA. On the other hand, the subjects reporting low annoyance would not induce this physiological response, and the prolonged elevation of salivary CgA levels was observed. This result suggests that psychological effects such as annoyance may not be positively associated with physiological effects.

 Conclusions



This study investigated the effects of noise on salivary CgA levels in a laboratory experiment. This study included 20 male subjects with normal hearing; their ages ranged from 21 to 24 years. In the experiment, white noise at 90 dB was presented to the subjects for 15 min. Individual differences in the change in the salivary CgA levels were discussed in relation to the subjective responses of the participants to some questionnaires. The results are summarized as follows: The salivary CgA levels increased significantly during noise exposure and decreased immediately after it. This result indicates that salivary CgA can be used to measure stress response to noise.

There were large individual differences in the change in the salivary CgA levels in response to noise exposure. Some subjects showed prolonged elevation in the salivary CgA levels and the others showed either immediate recovery or no effects. It seemed reasonable to suppose that these individual differences correlated with the physiological sensitivity to noise.

The score on the somatic symptoms in GHQ-28 showed significant positive association with the physiological sensitivity to noise; this implies that the score on the somatic symptoms in GHQ-28 could be a measure of the physiological sensitivity to noise.

The annoyance score showed a significant negative association with the physiological sensitivity to noise. Contrary to our expectations, the subjects reporting low annoyance showed high physiological acute response. This result suggests that annoyance could induce the physiological response that inhibits the secretion of salivary CgA and that psychological effects such as annoyance may not be positively associated with physiological effects.

No previous studies have shown the relationships between the subjective response and physiological sensitivity to noise. Further experiments are required to confirm these conclusions since the number of subjects and the recovery period in this experiment were limited.

 Acknowledgements



The writing of this paper was made possible largely through the grant from the Sound Technology Promotion Foundation (Japan), and we would like to acknowledge here the generosity of the foundation.

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