Comparison of salivary and calculated free cortisol levels during low and standard dose of ACTH stimulation tests in healthy volunteers

Elbuken G., Tanriverdi F., Karaca Z. C., Kula M., Gokahmetoglu S., Unluhizarci K., ...More

ENDOCRINE, vol.48, no.2, pp.439-443, 2015 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 48 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s12020-014-0378-8
  • Journal Name: ENDOCRINE
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.439-443
  • Erciyes University Affiliated: Yes


Salivary cortisol (SC) has been increasingly used as a surrogate biomarker of free cortisol (FC) for the assessment of hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, but there are not enough data regarding its use during ACTH stimulation tests. Therefore, we aimed to determine the responses of SC, calculated free cortisol (cFC) and free cortisol index (FCI) to ACTH stimulation tests in healthy adults. Forty-four healthy volunteers (24 men and 20 women) were included in the study. Low-dose (1 mu g) and standard-dose (250 mu g) ACTH stimulation tests were performed on two consecutive days. Basal and stimulated total cortisol (TC) and cortisol-binding globulin (CBG) levels and SC levels were measured during both doses of ACTH stimulation tests. cFC (by Coolens' equation) and FCI levels were calculated from simultaneously measured TC and CBG levels. The minimum SC, cFC, FCI levels after low-dose ACTH stimulation test were 0.21, 0.33, 16.06 mu g/dL, and after standard-dose ACTH were 0.85, 0.46, 26.11 mu g/dL, respectively, in healthy individuals who all had TC responses higher than 20 mu g/dL. Peak CBG levels after both doses of ACTH stimulation tests were found to be higher in women than in men. So, by its effect, peak cFC and FCI levels were found to be lower in female than in male group. Neither TC nor SC levels were affected by gender. cFC and FCI levels depend on CBG levels and they are affected by gender. Cut-off levels for SC, cFC, FCI levels after both low-and standard-dose ACTH stimulation are presented. Studies including patients with adrenal insufficiency would be helpful to see the diagnostic value of these suggested cut-off levels.