Due to work-related stress, today, work itself represents a daily challenge that must be faced in many occupations. While, in the past, the scientific community has focused on the helping professions, since, an increasing number of professions have since been investigated. Therefore, different approaches exist in order to assess this disorder, representing a scientific field wherein biological and psychological dimensions both need to be evaluated. In this paper, we consider three biological salivary markers: interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), cortisol, and melatonin. The choice derives from recent contributions to the literature in which the interplay between these markers has been verified. Briefly, such interplay could explain how the central nervous, endocrine, and immune systems communicate with each other, supporting a holistic concept of person. In 30 marine fishermen from the Apulia region of Italy, perceived stress was measured using the Professional Stress Scale (PSS) and sleep disturbances were assessed through the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Salivary markers were collected at 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Those subjects reporting sleep disturbance and having altered scores in two PSS subclasses, home–work conflict and self-esteem, presented inverted salivary melatonin and cortisol nictemeral rhythms (with regard to melatonin levels at 8:00 a.m., those workers reporting values higher than the median showed 64.1% versus 48.6% home–work conflict with respect to cortisol levels, subjects having an inverted circadian rhythm showed 69.9% versus 52.5% home–work conflict, and these values resulted 47.7% versus 25.3% when the self-esteem was considered). As regards melatonin, PSQI score is statistically different in the two groups of subjects as identified by median melatonin at 8:00 a.m.; specifically, the subjects who had mean values higher than the median shared higher PSQI scores (10.8 versus 9.8). The same subjects reported more frequent home–work conflict and more sleep disorders. We found a negative correlation between IL-1β at 8:00 a.m. and Cortdiff (the difference between cortisol at 8:00 a.m.–cortisol at 2:00 p.m.), and that high IL-1β at 8:00 a.m. was associated with low Cortdiff. Based on our results we would like to propose this approach in health surveillance, in order to prevent mental and/or physical disorders, however our study is surely preliminary. The interesting perspectives and hypotheses cited in this paper, in which the roles of IL-1β and norepinephrine appear central and important, could remain hypothetical if not supported by more robust observation in order to produce, truly, new knowledge. In the future we will deepen this study with a larger sample, and if these results will be confirmed, this approach could allow preventing, not only mental and physical disorders, but also immuno-mediated diseases, and, perhaps, cancer.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited