Introduction: The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is known to be related to abdominal symptoms, and the relationship between abdominal pain and cortisol secretory patterns has been previously investigated using a cross-sectional approach. Here, we investigated the effect of day-to-day variations in salivary cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate levels on abdominal symptoms in healthy individuals.Methods: Eleven college students (4 males and 7 females) participated in this study. The participants were asked to collect their saliva immediately after awakening and before bedtime for eight consecutive days. They also completed a questionnaire about abdominal symptoms before bedtime. The linear mixed model was applied to analyze the effects of the day-by-day variability or the 8-day average adrenal hormone level (at awakening, before bedtime, slope from awakening to bedtime) on abdominal symptoms.Results: The day-to-day variability of cortisol levels before bedtime was negatively related with loose stool, while the day-to-day variability of the cortisol slope was positively correlated with loose stool. A low 8-day average dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate level at awakening was positively related with frequent bowel movements, loose stool, and long bouts of severe abdominal pain. Likewise, a low 8-day average dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate slope was positively related with long bouts of abdominal pain.Conclusions: Low cortisol levels before bedtime and a steeper diurnal cortisol slope during the day may be related to bouts of diarrhea during the day.
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