Comparisons of plasma and salivary cortisol determinations for the diagnostic efficacy of the dexamethasone suppression test

Biol Psychiatry. 1990 Apr 15;27(8):897-904. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(90)90471-d.


The current status of the saliva dexamethasone suppression test (DST) is discussed and results from the literature reviewed. Evidence is presented that demonstrates that the efficacy of the salivary-based test is equal to that of the plasma DST provided that specifically developed radioimmunoassays are used for determination of salivary cortisol. Such evidence relied on measurement of cortisol in 300 matched samples of plasma and saliva provided by patients admitted to a routine psychiatric ward over a 2-year period. The results according to diagnosis (DSM-III categories) were in line with those generally reported. The influence of anticholinergic medication was examined: this had no significant effects on the performance of the plasma or salivary-based DST.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Depressive Disorder / blood
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Dexamethasone*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Male
  • ROC Curve
  • Saliva / metabolism*


  • Dexamethasone
  • Hydrocortisone