The Metabolic Syndrome X and Peripheral Cortisol Synthesis

Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2002 Oct;110(7):313-8. doi: 10.1055/s-2002-34996.


The metabolic syndrome X and Cushing's syndrome show similar symptoms but one major difference: Plasma cortisol is not elevated in the metabolic syndrome. Evidence is presented, that by the action of 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (11 beta HSD1) higher intracellular cortisol concentration may be created that may be relevant to induce insulin resistance and metabolic disturbances. Regulation of 11 beta HSD1 expression by hormones, growth factors, cytokines and transcription factors enables tissue specific adjustments of glucocorticoid receptor activation by cortisol. Specific inhibition of 11 beta HSD1 would help to understand aspects of the pathogenesis of syndrome X and to develop new therapeutic perspectives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hormones
  • Insulin
  • Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases
  • Hydrocortisone