Rise in morning saliva cortisol is associated with abdominal obesity in men: a preliminary report

J Endocrinol Invest. 2003 Jul;26(7):616-9. doi: 10.1007/BF03347017.


An abnormal regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes mellitus. The objective of this study was to examine if morning saliva cortisols show similar associations. Twenty-eight men, all 53 yr of age, delivered during an ordinary working day saliva cortisol samples immediately upon awakening and 15 min thereafter as well as at different times during the day, including after a standardized lunch. Dexamethasone (0.5 mg) suppression of cortisol was also measured. The rise of morning cortisol values was positively associated with body mass index (r: 0.45, p=0.016), waist/hip ratio (r: 0.54, p=0.003), abdominal sagittal diameter (r: 0.54, p=0.003), glucose (r: 0.54, p=0.003), insulin (r: 0.57, p=0.002) and triglycerides (r: 0.46, p=0.014). The morning rise also correlated positively with the elevation of cortisol following lunch (r: 0.45, p=0.043) but not with other cortisol measurements or dexamethasone suppression. Elevation of cortisol immediately after awakening has previously been found to provide a simple indicator of HPA axis regulation, as suggested also by the results of this study, and an elevated rise has been reported after exposure to frequent or chronic perceived stress. The rise of cortisol immediately after awakening might be an indicator of an increased risk of developing serious, prevalent diseases via the metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / anatomy & histology
  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dexamethasone
  • Eating
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Saliva / metabolism*


  • Dexamethasone
  • Hydrocortisone