High-density lipoproteins and adrenal steroidogenesis: A population-based study


Cholesterol trafficked within plasma lipoproteins, in particular high-density lipoproteins (HDL), may represent an important source of cholesterol that is required for adrenal steroidogenesis. Based on a urinary gas chromatography method, compromised adrenal function has been suggested in men but not in women with (genetically determined) low plasma HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C).


The objective of the article was to examine the extent to which glucocorticoid production relates to HDL-C in a population-based cohort.


A total of 240 subjects (120 men and 120 women, aged 20-79 years) without relevant comorbidities were recruited from the general population. Glucocorticoid metabolites were measured by gas chromatography with tandem mass spectrometric detection in 24-hour urine collections to estimate total glucocorticoid production (TGP). Fasting plasma (apo)lipoproteins were assayed by routine methods.


TGP was not decreased but tended to be increased in subjects with low HDL-C (NCEP-ATPIII criteria; P = .094). In univariate analysis, TPG was correlated inversely with HDL-C (r = -0.353, P < .001) and apoA-I (r = -0.263, P = .01). Multivariable linear regression analysis demonstrated that TGP was still inversely related to HDL-C (β = -0.145, P = .019) or alternatively to low HDL-C (β = -0.129, P = .013) taking age, sex, current smoking, and other metabolic syndrome components into account.


In this population-based study, urinary glucocorticoid metabolite excretion was inversely associated with HDL-C. We found no evidence for an attenuated adrenal function in men and women with low HDL-C.

year of publication



  • J Clin Lipidol


  • Buitenwerf, E
  • Kerstens, MN
  • Links, TP
  • Kema, IP
  • Dullaart, RPF

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