- Cortisol in hair and the metabolic syndrome
- Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
- Volume | Issue number
- 98 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Context: Although exposure to supraphysiological levels of glucocorticoids is known to contribute to the development of the metabolic syndrome (MetS), the importance of physiological variation in basal cortisol secretion is less clear. This issue can be addressed by using hair cortisol analysis, which for the first time allows the assessment of long-term integrated hormone levels.
Objective and Design: We used the analysis of cortisol in hair (hairF) to examine associations of long-term cortisol levels with prevalence of MetS and individual cardiometabolic parameters in a large occupational cohort. In additional exploratory analyses, we also studied cardiometabolic associations with hair cortisone levels.
Participants: Participants included 1258 employees of a large aerospace company (aged 16-64 years; 84.8% males) who partook in a voluntary health assessment.
Main Outcome Measures: The first 3 cm of scalp-near hair were analyzed for glucocorticoid concentrations using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Relevant cardiometabolic risk factors were assessed and MetS was diagnosed (according to 2009 international task force criteria).
Results: A higher prevalence of MetS was seen in individuals falling into the third (odds ratio 1.71, 95% confidence interval 1.08-2.69) or fourth hairF quartile (odds ratio 2.42, 95% confidence interval 1.55-3.75) compared with the first quartile, in fully adjusted analyses. HairF also showed positive associations with weight-related anthropometric measures (body mass index, waist to hip ratio, waist circumference) and glycated hemoglobin. The exploratory analysis of hair cortisone also indicated relevant associations with cardiometabolic parameters.
Conclusion: Normal physiological differences in long-term cortisol secretion, as assessed in hair, show relevant relationships with MetS and individual cardiometabolic parameters.
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