Diurnal salivary cortisol is associated with body mass index and waist circumference: The multiethnic study of atherosclerosis

Sherita Hill Golden, Shivam Champaneri, Xiaoqiang Xu, Mercedes R. Carnethon, Alain G. Bertoni, Teresa Seeman, Amy S. DeSantis, Ana Diez Roux, Sandi Shrager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Objective: Neuroendocrine abnormalities, such as activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, are associated with obesity; however, few large-scale population-based studies have examined HPA axis and markers of obesity. We examined the cross-sectional association of the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and diurnal salivary cortisol curve with obesity. Design and Methods: The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Stress Study includes 1,002 White, Hispanic, and Black men and women (mean age 65 6 9.8 years) who collected up to 18 salivary cortisol samples over 3 days. Cortisol profiles were modeled using regression spline models that incorporated random parameters for subject-specific effects. Cortisol curve measures included awakening cortisol, CAR (awakening to 30-min postawakening), early decline (30 min to 2-h postawakening), late decline (2-h postawakening to bedtime), and the corresponding areas under the curve (AUC). Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) were used to estimate adiposity. Results: For the entire cohort, both BMI and WC were negatively correlated with awakening cortisol (P < 0.05), AUC during awakening rise, and early decline and positively correlated to the early decline slope (P < 0.05) after adjustments for age, race/ethnicity, gender, diabetes status, socioeconomic status, β-blockers, steroids, hormone replacement therapy, and smoking status. No heterogeneities of effects were observed by gender, age, and race/ethnicity. Conclusions: Higher BMI and WC are associated with neuroendocrine dysregulation, which is present in a large population sample, and only partially explained by other covariates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E56-E63
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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