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Background: Early life nutrition may affect individuals' susceptibility to adult non-communicable diseases (NCD). Psychological stress is a well-recognised NCD risk factor. Recent evidence suggests that impaired foetal nutrition alters neuro-endocrine pathways, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis feedback systems, resulting in abnormal stress responses, and NCD risk. This study aims to examine adolescent cortisol and cardiovascular stress responses in relation to maternal nutrition and contemporaneous NCD risk markers. Methods: The study sample will be drawn from three well-established birth cohorts in India; the Parthenon cohort, Mysore (N=550, age~20y), the SARAS KIDS prenatal intervention cohort, Mumbai (N=300, age~10-12y) and the Pune Rural Intervention in Young Adults/ PRIYA cohort, Pune (N=100, age~22y). We will perform the 'Trier Social Stress Test (TSST)', a well-accepted stress-test module which involves participants performing 5-minutes each of public speaking and mental arithmetic tasks in front of unfamiliar 'judges' (stressor). Repeated measures of salivary cortisol and autonomic cardiovascular outcomes relative to the stressor will be assessed. Measures of psychological stress, cognitive function, blood pressure, glucose-insulin metabolism and depression will be carried out. Mechanistic studies including DNA methylation in gluco-corticoid receptor ( NR3C1) and 11β-HSD2 gene loci and neuroimaging will be carried out in a subsample. Qualitative interviews and focus group discussions in a subsample of the Parthenon cohort will explore the perception of stress and stressors among the youth. We will convert repeated measures into time-weighted averages before analysis. We will carry out multivariable regression analysis to test the associations. We will further refine the analyses using the mixed-model regression and conditional analyses for the association with repeated measures.   Ethics and dissemination: This study has been approved by the research ethics committee of CSI Holdsworth Memorial Hospital, Mysore. The findings will be disseminated locally and at international meetings, and reports will be submitted to open access peer reviewed journals.

Original publication




Journal article


Wellcome Open Res

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India, TSST, adolescents, maternal nutrition, non-communicable disease, stress response