Context: The assessment absolute bioavailability of oral hydrocortisone is complicated by its saturable binding to cortisol binding globulin (CBG). Previous assessment of bioavailability used a cortisol radioimmunoassay which has cross reactivity with other steroids. Salivary cortisone is a measure of free cortisol and LC-MS/MS is the gold standard method for measuring steroids. We here report the absolute bioavailability of hydrocortisone calculated using serum cortisol and salivary cortisone measured by LC-MS/MS.
Methods: 14 healthy male dexamethasone suppressed volunteers were administered 20 mg hydrocortisone either intravenously or orally by tablet. Samples of serum and saliva were taken and measured for cortisol and cortisone by LC-MS/MS. Serum cortisol was corrected for saturable binding using published data and pharmacokinetic parameters derived using the program WinNonlin.
Results: The mean (95% CI) bioavailability of oral hydrocortisone calculated from serum cortisol, unbound serum cortisol and salivary cortisone was 1.00 (0.89-1.14); 0.88 (0.75-1.05); and 0.93 (0.83-1.05), respectively.
Conclusion: The data confirm that, after oral administration, hydrocortisone is completely absorbed. The data derived from serum cortisol corrected for protein binding, and that from salivary cortisone, are similar supporting the concept that salivary cortisone reflects serum free cortisol levels and that salivary cortisone can be used as a non-invasive method for measuring the pharmacokinetics of hydrocortisone.
Keywords: Bioavailability; Cortisol; Cortisone; Hydrocortisone; Saliva.