Genetic moderation of cortisol secretion in Holocaust survivors: A pilot study on the role of ADRA2B

Ayala Fridman, Marinus H. Van IJzendoorn, Abraham Sagi-Schwartz, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the current study we tested whether ADRA2B moderates stress regulation of Holocaust survivors as indexed by their diurnal cortisol secretion and cortisol reactivity to a stressor. Salivary cortisol levels of 54 female Holocaust survivors and participants in the comparison group were assessed during a routine day and in response to a stress-evoking procedure (an adapted version of the Trier Social Stress Test [TSST]). ADRA2B did not moderate differences between Holocaust survivors and participants in the comparison group in terms of cortisol reactivity to the TSST. Holocaust survivors with the wildtype ADRA2B, however, displayed higher diurnal cortisol levels than did participants in the comparison group with the same genotype, whereas no difference was found between these groups in carriers of the deletion variant, previously associated with more reexperiencing of traumatic events. Carriers of the deletion variant might have been driven in the long run to resolve their vividly remembered experiences, and therefore currently show less stress dysregulation as evident from their cortisol levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-84
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank our research assistants Tali Grossman, Yamit Ophir Goldstein, and Sigal Haimovich for their dedicated and sensitive involvement in the project. Special thanks to Sarit Alkalay for her helpful and valuable contribution. The generous support of the German-Israeli Foundation for Research and Development (GIF 279) and the Koehler Stiftung to Avi Sagi-Schwartz, Klaus Grossmann, and Marinus van IJzendoorn is deeply appreciated. Marinus van IJzendoorn and Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg were supported by research awards from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO Spinoza prize and VIDI grant no. 452-04-306, respectively).


  • Orphans
  • Regulation
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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