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J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Nov;22(11):1009-15.

Daily profiles of salivary and urinary melatonin and steroids in healthy prepubertal boys.

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Faculté de Médecine Pierre et Marie Curie, Service de Biochimie Médicale et Biologie Moléculaire and INSERM UMRS 975, Paris, France.


The aim of this study was to assess the circadian hormonal profile of two circadian markers, melatonin and cortisol, as well as other steroids in prepubertal boys (Tanner stage I). Nine volunteer healthy prepubertal boys aged 10.8 +/- 0.11 years participated in this study. Concentrations of daily salivary and urinary hormones were quantified around 24-hours, every 3 hours, in daytime samples (collected between 07.00 h +/- 30 min and 21.00 h +/- 30 min) and night-time samples (collected between 21.00 h +/- 30 min and 07.00 h +/- 30 min). Significant differences (p < 0.01) were found between day- and nighttime secretion of salivary melatonin and urinary 6-sulphatoxymelatonin, whereas no significant differences were found between day- and nighttime secretion of salivary and urinary cortisol nor between day- and nighttime secretion of 17-hydroxycorticosteroids (17-OHCS). The circadian profiles of salivary melatonin and cortisol showed large amplitude with a peak occurring at night (approximately 03.00 h) for melatonin and in the early morning (between 06.00 and 09.00 h) for cortisol. The curve patterns of the urinary 6-sulphatoxymelatonin and steroids (free cortisol and 17-OHCS) were coherent with data on saliva. The pattern of salivary androstenedione and testosterone were undetectable due to the very low concentrations of these steroids in the saliva of the prepubertal children. A strong significant positive correlation was observed between the daily salivary melatonin levels and the daily urinary 6-sulphatoxymelatonin excretion (R = 0.968, p < 0.001), and between free urinary cortisol and urinary 17-OHCS (R = 0.733, p = 0.025). The salivary and urinary hormones studied were independent of body mass index. This study shows the relevance of salivary cortisol and melatonin, although lower than in plasma, in testing adrenal and pineal function as markers of circadian rhythms. The data are of interest for the diagnosis and treatment of chronobiological disorders in prepubertal children.

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