Association between urinary excretion of cortisol and markers of oxidatively damaged DNA and RNA in humans

Anders Joergensen, Kasper Broedbaek, Allan Weimann, Richard D. Semba, Luigi Ferrucci, Martin B. Joergensen, Henrik E. Poulsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Chronic psychological stress is associated with accelerated aging, but the underlying biological mechanisms are not known. Prolonged elevations of the stress hormone cortisol is suspected to play a critical role. Through its actions, cortisol may potentially induce oxidatively generated damage to cellular constituents such as DNA and RNA, a phenomenon which has been implicated in aging processes. We investigated the relationship between 24 h excretion of urinary cortisol and markers of oxidatively generated DNA and RNA damage, 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanosine, in a sample of 220 elderly men and women (age 65 - 83 years). We found a robust association between the excretion of cortisol and the oxidation markers (R2 = 0.15, P<0.001 for both markers). Individuals in the highest quartile of cortisol excretion had a 57% and 61% higher median excretion of the DNA and RNA oxidation marker, respectively, than individuals in the lowest quartile. The finding adds support to the hypothesis that cortisol-induced damage to DNA/RNA is an explanatory factor in the complex relation between stress, aging and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20795
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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