Dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the detailed relationships of HPA axis activity with weight reduction and CVD risk factors in obese patients have not been examined. This study was designed to elucidate the associations of salivary cortisol levels with weight reduction and CVD risk factors in obese patients. As a marker of HPA axis activity, we measured the morning salivary cortisol levels of 83 obese Japanese outpatients. We also examined metabolic parameters, inflammatory markers, and indicators of arterial stiffness, that is, the pulse wave velocity and cardio-ankle vascular index. All 83 obese patients underwent 3-month weight reduction therapy with lifestyle modification. At the baseline, multivariate regression analysis revealed that only logarithmic transformation of C-reactive protein (β = 0.258, P < .05) and cardio-ankle vascular index (β = 0.233, P < .05) were independent determinants of the salivary cortisol levels. However, other metabolic parameters were not significantly associated with the salivary cortisol levels. In addition, lower salivary cortisol levels and higher body weight at the baseline were the only independent determinants of successful weight loss through the weight reduction therapy (P < .01). The present study demonstrates that the baseline morning salivary cortisol levels are significantly associated with the levels of an inflammatory marker, arterial stiffness, and successful weight reduction in obese patients. Therefore, salivary cortisol could be a useful marker for assessing and managing body weight and CVD risk factors in obese patients.
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