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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2014 Aug;81(2):289-93. doi: 10.1111/cen.12470. Epub 2014 May 19.

Subcutaneous pulsatile glucocorticoid replacement therapy.

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Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neurosciences and Endocrinology, Dorothy Hodgkin Building, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.


The glucocorticoid hormone cortisol is released in pulses resulting in a complex and dynamic ultradian rhythm of plasma cortisol that underlies the classical circadian rhythm. These oscillating levels are also seen at the level of tissues such as the brain and trigger pulses of gene activation and downstream signalling. Different patterns of glucocorticoid presentation (constant vs pulsatile) result not only in different patterns of gene regulation but also in different neuroendocrine and behavioural responses. Current 'optimal' glucocorticoid replacement therapy results in smooth hormone blood levels and does not replicate physiological pulsatile cortisol secretion. Validation of a novel portable pulsatile continuous subcutaneous delivery system in healthy volunteers under dexamethasone and metyrapone suppression. Pulsatile subcutaneous hydrocortisone more closely replicates physiological circadian and ultradian rhythmicity.

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