Send to

Choose Destination
Braz J Med Biol Res. 2000 Oct;33(10):1171-5.

Salivary cortisol as a tool for physiological studies and diagnostic strategies.

Author information

Divisão de Endocrinologia, Departamento de Fisiologia, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brasil.


Salivary cortisol is an index of plasma free cortisol and is obtained by a noninvasive procedure. We have been using salivary cortisol as a tool for physiological and diagnostic studies, among them the emergence of circadian rhythm in preterm and term infants. The salivary cortisol circadian rhythm in term and premature infants was established between 8 and 12 postnatal weeks. In the preterm infants the emergence of circadian rhythm was parallel to the onset of sleep rhythm. We also studied the use of salivary cortisol for screening for Cushing's syndrome (CS) in control and obese outpatients based on circadian rhythm and the overnight 1 mg dexamethasone (DEX) suppression test. Salivary cortisol was suppressed to less than 100 ng/dl after 1 mg DEX in control and obese patients. A single salivary cortisol measurement at 23:00 h and again after 1 mg DEX above the 90th percentile of the obese group values had sensitivity and specificity of 93 and 93% (23:00 h), and 91 and 94% (after DEX), respectively. The sensitivity improved to 100% when we combined both parameters. We also studied 11 CS children and 21 age-matched primary obese children for whom salivary cortisol sensitivity and specificity were 100/95% (23:00 h), and 100/95% (1 mg DEX), respectively. Similar to adults, sensitivity and specificity of 100% were obtained by combining 23:00 h and 1 mg DEX. The measurement of salivary cortisol is a useful tool for physiological studies and for the diagnosis of CS in children and adults on an outpatient basis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Scientific Electronic Library Online
Loading ...
Support Center