Salivary Testosterone and Cortisol Measurement in Sports Medicine: a Narrative Review and User's Guide for Researchers and Practitioners

L D Hayes, N Sculthorpe, B. Cunniffe, Fergal Grace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Since the initial reporting of salivary hormone measurements in marathon runners in the early 1980s, the practice of utilizing salivary testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) to reflect acute and rhythmic changes to their systemic counterparts has gained considerable momentum. However, substantial variability exists between studies with respect to methodological protocols, laboratory techniques, and interpretation of study findings. These differences can directly influence the salivary hormone values, thus hampering interpretation, limiting cross-study comparison, and constraining the generalizability of individual study findings. This article examines the current body of literature before proposing a sequence of practical guidelines to minimize sample variability in salivary hormone research. The guidelines are grouped into 3 major categories that limit comparison between studies; A) study design, B) sample acquisition and biological variation, and C) technical and analytical error. To achieve this, the present article critically appraises research employing salivary T and C measurements, identifies potential sources of error before proposing appropriate methodological considerations for researchers and practitioners wishing to obtain T and C measurement from saliva.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Medicine
Early online date27 Sep 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Sep 2016

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Sports Medicine
Hydrocortisone
Testosterone
Research Personnel
Hormones
Guidelines
Saliva
Research
Research Design

Cite this

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AB - Since the initial reporting of salivary hormone measurements in marathon runners in the early 1980s, the practice of utilizing salivary testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) to reflect acute and rhythmic changes to their systemic counterparts has gained considerable momentum. However, substantial variability exists between studies with respect to methodological protocols, laboratory techniques, and interpretation of study findings. These differences can directly influence the salivary hormone values, thus hampering interpretation, limiting cross-study comparison, and constraining the generalizability of individual study findings. This article examines the current body of literature before proposing a sequence of practical guidelines to minimize sample variability in salivary hormone research. The guidelines are grouped into 3 major categories that limit comparison between studies; A) study design, B) sample acquisition and biological variation, and C) technical and analytical error. To achieve this, the present article critically appraises research employing salivary T and C measurements, identifies potential sources of error before proposing appropriate methodological considerations for researchers and practitioners wishing to obtain T and C measurement from saliva.

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