Send to

Choose Destination
Horm Res. 2002;58(4):172-5.

Increased ratio of serum cortisol to cortisone in acute-phase response.

Author information

Institute of Clinical Chemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit├Ąt, Klinikum Grosshadern, Munich, Germany.



11beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11beta-HSD) enzymes convert cortisol into inactive cortisone and vice versa. While 11beta-HSD type 2 (mainly localized in the kidney) unidirectionally inactivates cortisol to cortisone, type I isoform (mainly localized in the liver) acts bidirectionally and can thus potentially restore cortisone to active cortisol. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate whether the serum cortisol:cortisone ratio is altered during the acute-phase response, possibly due to altered modulation of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase isoforms.


Using liquid chromatography electrospray tandem mass spectrometry, cortisol and cortisone were measured in the serum of hospitalized patients with normal and abnormal CRP concentrations, the latter indicating acute-phase response. Fifteen unselected samples were analyzed, all with a CRP concentration within one of the following ranges to cover a wide range of CRP concentrations evenly: <5, 5-20, 21-50, 51-100, 101-200, and >200 mg/l.


In the heterogeneous study population, increased CRP concentrations significantly correlated with an increased cortisol:cortisone ratio (p < 0.001; r = 0.65, Spearman correlation coefficient). This correlation was independent of increased serum cortisol concentrations found by multivariate regression analysis. The median ratio was 6.4 (interquartile range 5.5-7.4; n = 30) in patients with a CRP concentration < or =20 mg/l, and 11.2 (interquartile range 8.8-13.9; n = 60) in patients with CRP >20 mg/l (p < 0.01).


The balance between serum cortisol and cortisone is altered during acute-phase response with a shift towards active cortisol, suggesting that 11beta-HSD isoenzymes play a role in the modulation of systemically available cortisol during acute illness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for S. Karger AG, Basel, Switzerland
Loading ...
Support Center