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Nutrients 2019, 11(2), 360;

Post-Prandial Changes in Salivary Glucocorticoids: Effects of Dietary Cholesterol and Associations with Bile Acid Excretion

Department of Dietetics, Nutrition & Biological Sciences, Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh, EH21 6UU, UK
BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH16 4TJ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 January 2019 / Revised: 6 February 2019 / Accepted: 6 February 2019 / Published: 9 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Steroid Hormones and Human Health)
PDF [703 KB, uploaded 9 February 2019]


Mechanisms to explain post-prandial increases in circulating glucocorticoids are not well understood and may involve increased adrenal secretion and/or altered steroid metabolism. We have compared salivary levels of cortisol and cortisone levels in healthy male and female volunteers fed either a low or cholesterol-rich midday meal. Urinary levels of steroids, bile acids and markers of lipid peroxidation were also measured. Males and females showed expected circadian changes in salivary steroids and postprandial peaks within 1h of feeding. After a high-cholesterol meal, postprandial cortisol increases were higher in males whereas post-prandial cortisone levels were higher in females. Urinary cortisol but not cortisone levels were higher on the day when males and females ate a high-cholesterol meal. Urinary bile acid excretion and anti-oxidant markers of lipid peroxidation, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), and total phenol content were not affected by dietary cholesterol but tended to be higher in males. Cross-tabulation of correlation coefficients indicated positive associations between urinary markers of peroxidation, bile acids, and cortisol:cortisone ratios. We conclude that dietary cholesterol (a substrate for steroidogenesis) does not have an acute effect on adrenal glucocorticoid synthesis and that gender but not a high-cholesterol meal may influence the interconversion of cortisol and cortisone. Longer term studies of the effects of dietary cholesterol are needed to analyze the associations between bile acids, steroid metabolism, and secretion and lipid peroxidation.
Keywords: glucocorticoids; cortisol; cholesterol; diet; bile acids glucocorticoids; cortisol; cholesterol; diet; bile acids
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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Anderson, G.W.; Kenyon, C.J.; Al-Dujaili, E.A. Post-Prandial Changes in Salivary Glucocorticoids: Effects of Dietary Cholesterol and Associations with Bile Acid Excretion. Nutrients 2019, 11, 360.

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