Authors: Bakusic J, De Nys S, Creta M, Godderis L, Duca RC
There is a growing interest concerning the relevance of salivary cortisone levels in stress-related research. However, studies investigating morning patterns and day-to-day variability of cortisone versus cortisol levels are lacking. Cortisol and cortisone analysis by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectroscopy (LC-MS/MS) has been widely used for routine laboratory measurements in the last years. The aim of this study was to develop an ultra-performance LC-MS/MS method for the simultaneous quantification of salivary cortisol and cortisone levels for assessing the temporal variability of these hormones. Saliva samples were collected from 18 healthy volunteers at 0, 15, and 30 min after awakening on each day for 1 week and analysed with the newly developed method. We used a novel atmospheric pressure ionization source, which resulted in high sensitivity and specificity for both cortisol and cortisone as well as higher peak values and signal-to-noise ratio as compared with the electrospray ionization source. Cortisone showed similar morning patterns as cortisol: a 25% and 49% increase in levels at 15 and 30 min after awakening, respectively. Most cortisone indices showed somewhat lower day-to-day variability and were less affected by state-related covariates. We recommend further exploration of the potential of salivary cortisone as a biomarker in stress-related research.