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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Jul;95(7):3318-24. doi: 10.1210/jc.2009-2701. Epub 2010 Apr 21.

Cortisol production rate is similarly elevated in obese women with or without the polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Leiden University Medical Center, Department of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Albinusdreef 2, 2333 ZA Leiden, The Netherlands.



The pituitary-adrenal axis in obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is marked by increased urinary excretion of cortisol and its metabolites. It is not as yet clear whether the increased cortisol production in PCOS is related to obesity per se.


We investigated 15 obese PCOS women with a body mass index of 30-54 kg/m(2) and 15 healthy obese controls (body mass index 31-60 kg/m(2)) with a regular menstrual cycle. Patients and control women underwent 24-h blood sampling at 20-min intervals. Cortisol concentrations were measured with a sensitive assay. Data were analyzed with a new deconvolution program, approximate entropy, and cosinor regression.


Basal, pulsatile, and total cortisol production expressed per liter distribution volume, per square meter body surface, and as absolute amount per 24 h was similar in PCOS patients and matched healthy control women. In addition, the regularity of cortisol secretion and the diurnal properties were identical. Compared with 10 lean control women, mean cortisol production per liter distribution volume was similar in the three groups, but the total 24-h cortisol production was increased in obese control women and PCOS women.


This study demonstrates equally increased cortisol production in PCOS women and obese healthy control women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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