Feasibility of home-based sampling of salivary cortisol and cortisone in healthy adults

BMC Res Notes. 2021 Nov 2;14(1):406. doi: 10.1186/s13104-021-05820-4.


Objective: Salivary cortisol and cortisone are used as biomarkers of physiological stress. Careful sampling of saliva for profiling of awakening response and the diurnal slope can be challenging in free-living environments, and validated sampling protocols are lacking. Therefore, we investigated (1) the level of compliance to a three-day home-based salivary sampling protocol, and (2) the within subject day-to-day variability of cortisol and cortisone outcomes and the required measuring days to obtain high reproducibility.

Results: Nineteen healthy adults (mean age: 42, 50% females) participated. Participants collected in total 434 salivary samples out of 456 scheduled (four samples per day over three consecutive days at two time points). We found high level of compliance to the proposed free-living salivary sampling protocol with 18 (95%) and 16 (84%) participants being compliant to numbers and timing of samples, respectively. The area under the curve for the morning salivary samples and peak-to-bed slope had moderate reproducibility for cortisol and cortisone (intraclass correlation coefficient: 0.51-0.68, and mean coefficient of variation: 14.7%-75.3%). Three-to-four measuring days were required for high reproducibility of the area under the curve for the morning salivary samples and peak-to-bed slope using this free-living salivary sampling protocol. Trial registration Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03788525).

Keywords: Cortisol; Cortisone; Feasibility; Physiological stress; Saliva.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cortisone*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Saliva


  • Cortisone
  • Hydrocortisone

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03788525