Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New method to measure cortisol could lead to better understanding of development of common diseases

Date:
May 3, 2011
Source:
European Society of Endocrinology
Summary:
A new method to measure the amount of the stress hormone cortisol found in the body over the long term could lead to new research avenues to study the development of common conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. Researchers have found that hair can be used to create a retrospective timeline of exposure to cortisol. Cortisol is implicated in the development of many common conditions and this new technique could allow us to study its role better.

A new method to measure the amount of the stress hormone cortisol found in the body over the long term could lead to new research avenues to study the development of common conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. In results announced at the European Congress of Endocrinology, researchers found that hair can be used to create a retrospective timeline of exposure to cortisol. Cortisol is implicated in the development of many common conditions and this new technique could allow us to study its role better.

Related Articles


Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands and its primary role is to help maintain body metabolism. If the body is put under (psychological or physical) stress, cortisol levels increase to allow the body to respond to the situation. Currently the standard method to measure cortisol levels is to take a blood or saliva sample. However, since cortisol is released in a circadian rhythm and with pulses throughout the day, levels can fluctuate considerably, meaning it is difficult to estimate an individual's long-term exposure to cortisol through blood and saliva tests alone. Finding a new non-invasive method to measure long-term cortisol exposure could have a major impact on our ability to determine the role of cortisol in the development of many common diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.

Dr Laura Manenschijn and her team from Erasmus MC in The Netherlands collected scalp hair samples from 195 healthy individuals and from 11 patients with Cushing's syndrome (a condition where the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol) and 3 patients with Addison's disease (a condition where the adrenal glands are unable to produce cortisol) and tested their cortisol levels. All participants filled out a questionnaire to assess what products and treatments they used on their hair. A subset of 46 participants also had their waist and hip measurements taken.

The team found that hair cortisol levels correlated positively with waist to hip ratio (r=0.425, p=0.003) and waist circumference (r=0.392, p=0.007), meaning people with higher exposure to cortisol showed higher abdominal obesity. In individuals with Cushing's syndrome the levels of cortisol in hair were significantly higher than in healthy individuals (p<0.0001). In long hair of individuals with Cushing's syndrome and Addison's disease, the levels of hair cortisol corresponded with clinical records of the amount of cortisol they had been exposed to. Additionally, in long hair of healthy women, the team were able to record alterations in cortisol exposure due to psychological stress over time. Hair cortisol levels were not influenced by gender (p=0.353), hair colour (p=0.413), frequency of hair wash (p=0.673) or hair products (p=0.109), although there was a slight, borderline significant, decrease in cortisol levels in hair that was treated (dyed/bleached) (p=0.08).

This is the first time that cortisol measurements taken from hair have been shown to correlate with known tissue effects of cortisol, such as abdominal obesity, and to provide a retrospective timeline of exposure to this hormone. The next step is to use this technique in larger studies to examine the role of long-term cortisol exposure in the development of cardiovascular disease and depression. Ultimately, this could lead to a better classification of individuals at risk of common conditions and novel approaches to prevent these.

Researcher Dr Laura Manenschijn from Erasmus MC said: "We have suspected for a while that cortisol may be implicated in the development of many common conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. However, until now, doctors have not been able to accurately measure cortisol exposure over the long-term and so research into this has been limited.

"Our results are very exciting as they show that measuring the amount of cortisol in hair can potentially be used to monitor a person's long-term exposure to cortisol. This technique could lead to many potential uses in clinical research and has the additional benefit that it is easy to use and non-invasive.

"The results of this study show that hair cortisol is a reliable measure of long-term cortisol exposure. Now, we would like to use this tool in larger studies to examine the role of cortisol in the development of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and depression."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Society of Endocrinology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Society of Endocrinology. "New method to measure cortisol could lead to better understanding of development of common diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502183715.htm>.
European Society of Endocrinology. (2011, May 3). New method to measure cortisol could lead to better understanding of development of common diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502183715.htm
European Society of Endocrinology. "New method to measure cortisol could lead to better understanding of development of common diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502183715.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins