Cortisol secretary pattern and glucocorticoid feedback sensitivity in women from a Mediterranean area: relationship with anthropometric characteristics, dietary intake and plasma fatty acid profile.Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2007 Feb; 66(2):185-91.CE
Chronic stress is associated with a dysfunctional hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis consisting on disturbances on the cortisol response and lipid metabolism.
To evaluate the HPA axis activity in women from a Mediterranean area, comparing three different measurements: daily cortisol secretory variability, postprandial cortisol secretion and glucocorticoid feedback sensitivity. In addition, HPA axis disturbance is correlated with dietary habits and plasma fatty acid profiles.
The participants were 41 women born during the first 6 months of 1960 and living in a Mediterranean area (Murcia, Spain). They were of normal weight, with a waist circumference of 80.5 +/- 9.3 cm. Their salivary cortisol levels, 7-day dietary record and plasma fatty acid profile were evaluated. Daily cortisol variability and postlunch cortisol secretion were recorded and a dexamethasone suppression test is performed in order to detect possible HPA disturbance.
Both the methods used for HPA axis evaluation were positively correlated (r = 0.448, P = 0.004). Subjects with normal diurnal curves (high cortisol variability) showed significantly higher cortisol values in the morning and postprandial cortisol secretion than women with pathological curves (medium and low variability). Cortisol variability was inversely correlated with waist circumference (r = -0.312, P = 0.047), suggesting that a disturbed HPA axis response may lead to an android pattern of body fat distribution. Dietary fat and saturated fatty acid intake were lower in the high cortisol variability group, while monounsaturated fatty acid intake was higher (P < 0.05). No major differences were reported in plasma fatty acid profile.
A disturbed HPA axis is associated with abdominal fat distribution and a higher content of fat and saturated fatty acids in the diet. Women who chose a dietary pattern closer to the Mediterranean diet, with high monounsaturated fatty acid intake, showed lower levels on HPA axis disturbance.