Semester of Graduation

Spring 2022



Document Type



The current study aimed to characterize the impact of psychological stress throughout the inaugural year of the COVID-19 pandemic on the biomarkers of stress (sIgA, cortisol, and DHEA/cortisol ratio) in (n=39) elite level collegiate female athletes. This study also looked at inflammatory and immune function effects of COVID-19 and how it relates to psychological health by use of blood plasma cytokines (IL-10, Il-1ra, TNF-a). Previous research has proven salivary biomarkers to be good indicators of psychological health, as well as blood plasma cytokines to relate to inflammatory/immune function. The data from this study was provided through salivary and blood plasma samples that were collected every 3 months for 12 months following the initial sport cessation period due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Participants filled out self-reported questionnaires at these time points and this data was compared to the findings in the blood and saliva data. The results of this study yielded no significant difference over time in any of the stress biomarkers or blood plasma cytokines (p>0.05). There was no significant difference (p>0.05) found over time for the self-reported questionnaires. The interesting finding in this study was the significant difference in cortisol/DHEA ratios during month 6 compared to month 12 (p=0.0103). Our findings indicate that sIgA, cortisol, and cortisol/DHEA ratios are good indicators of psychological health. Blood plasma cytokines IL-10, Il-1ra, and TNF-a are also valid measurements for inflammation/immune function. More research needs to be done to be more conclusive for psychological health in female athletes, but this study results showed healthy levels of psychological health for the participants.

Committee Chair

Spielmann, Guillaume



Available for download on Sunday, April 06, 2025