, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 93–100 | Cite as

Salivary Cortisol day curves in assessing glucocorticoid replacement therapy in Addison’s disease

  • Lisanne SmansEmail author
  • Eef Lentjes
  • Ad Hermus
  • Pierre Zelissen
Research paper



Patients with Addison’s disease require lifelong treatment with glucocorticoids. At present, no glucocorticoid replacement therapy (GRT) can exactly mimic normal physiology. As a consequence, under-and especially overtreatment can occur. Suboptimal GRT may lead to various side effects. The aim of this study was to investigate the use of salivary cortisol day curves (SCDC) in the individual adjustment of GRT in order to approach normal cortisol levels as closely as possible, reduce over-and underreplacement and study the short-term effects on quality of life (QoL).


Twenty patients with Addison’s disease were included in this prospective study. A SCDC was obtained and compared to normal controls; general and disease specific QoL-questionnaires were completed. Based on SCDC assessment of over-and undertreatment (calculated as duration (h) X magnitude (nmol/L) at different time points, glucocorticoid dose and regime were adjusted. After 4 weeks SCDC and QoL assessment were repeated and the effect of adjusting GRT was analysed. RESULTS At baseline, underreplacement was present in 3 and overreplacement in 18 patients; total calculated overreplacement was 32.8 h.nmol/L. Overreplacement decreased significantly to 13.3 h. nmol/L (p =0.005) after adjustment of GRT. Overreplacement was found particularly in the afternoon and evening. After reducing overreplacement in the evening, complaints about sleep disturbances significantly decreased.


Individual adjustment of GRT based on SCDC to approach normal cortisol concentrations during the day can reduce overreplacement, especially in the evening. This can lead to a reduction of sleep disturbances and fatigue in patients with Addison’s disease. A SCDC is a simple and patient-friendly tool for adjusting GRT and can be useful in the follow-up of patients with Addison’s disease.

Key words

Addison’s disease Glucocorticoid replacement therapy Quality of Life Salivary cortisol day curve 


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Copyright information

© Hellenic Endocrine Society 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisanne Smans
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eef Lentjes
    • 2
  • Ad Hermus
    • 3
  • Pierre Zelissen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine and EndocrinologyUniversity Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Laboratory of EndocrinologyUniversity Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of EndocrinologyRadboud University Nijmegne Medical CenterNijmegneThe Netherlands

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