Hormonal secretion of nurses engaged in fast-rotating shift systems

Giovanni Costa, Antonella Bertoldi, Mauro Kovacic, Giovanna Ghirlanda, David S. Minors, James M. Waterhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of the study was to assess whether fast-rotating shift systems, including one or two consecutive night shifts, would cause significant disturbances of the normal hormonal patterns of ten young female nurses working in an intensive care unit. Plasma cortisol, serum prolactin, and growth hormone were measured at the start, middle, and end of one morning (07-14), one afternoon (14-21), and two nightshifts (21-07); urinary excretion rates of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s), adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norephinephrine) were determined for each half of the four shifts. During the night shifts, the hormones more sensitive to exogenous components, such as catecholamines, prolactin, and growth hormone, showed an immediate response to the shifted sleep/activity cycle, evidencing a "masking effect" due to the work activity. On the other hand, hormones having stronger endogenous components, such as Cortisol and melatonin, showed a more stable pattern, with a slight tendency for partial adjustment of Cortisol during the second night.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number3 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1997


  • Adrenaline (epinephrine)
  • Cortisol
  • Growth hormone
  • Melatonin
  • Night work
  • Noradrenaline (norephinephrine)
  • Nurses
  • Prolactin
  • Shiftwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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