Urinary free cortisol and androgens in the population-Hormone interactions and the relationship with body composition and bone status

Steroids. 2016 Nov;115:154-159. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2016.09.006. Epub 2016 Sep 14.


Objective: Abnormal secretion of thyroid hormones, growth hormone, cortisol and androgens influences body composition. We hypothesised that higher cortisol excretion, in combination with higher androgen and IGF-I concentrations, had a synergistic, favourable effect on body mass and bone.

Design, patients and methods: This was a cross-sectional study on a population sample of 290 women and 93men. The mean age was 65.4±7.2yearsinwomen and 59.7±10.0yearsinmen. Body composition was assessed with bioimpedance, and skeletal health with calcaneal quantitative ultrasound and fracture rate. The influence of urinary free cortisol (UFC), serum DHEAs (women), testosterone (men), free T4andIGF-I on the outcome was studied with regression analyses adjusted for age and body mass index.

Results: In women, higher concentrations of UFC, DHEAs, IGF-I and lower free T4, were associated with higher fat-free mass. Only a higher UFC concentration was associated with favourable calcaneal measurements. In men, higher testosterone was associated with higher fat-free mass and lower fat mass. Higher IGF-I concentration, but not UFC, was independently associated with higher fat-free mass in men. Interaction analyses did not reveal any additive effects of hormones on body composition or bone in either sex. In both men and women, only age was associated with osteoporotic fractures.

Conclusion: Serum concentrations of androgens together with IGF-I were positively associated with body composition in both sexes. Urinary cortisol was positively associated with fat-free mass and bone status in women only. Increasing age, but not hormones, was the major determinant of osteoporotic fractures in this population sample.

Keywords: Body composition; Bone; DHEAs; Glucocorticoids; Testosterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Androgens / urine*
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Bone and Bones / physiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / urine*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Androgens
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Hydrocortisone