Test #004051Establish the diagnosis of adrenocortical insufficiency, Addison's disease, adrenocortical hypersecretion, Cushing's syndrome. Malfunction of the organs in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis will result in alteration of the cortisol levels.
Preparation: No fasting required.Test Type: BloodTest Results: 1-2 daysCortisol (hydrocortisone) is the most prominent glucocorticosteroid, and it is essential for the maintenance of several body functions. Like other glucocorticosteroids, cortisol is synthesized from the common precursor cholesterol in the zona fasciculata of the cortex of the adrenal gland. For the transport of cortisol in blood, about 90% of cortisol is bound to corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) and to albumin. Only a small amount of cortisol circulates unbound in blood and is free to interact with its receptors.3The most important physiological effects of cortisol are the increase of blood glucose levels (enhancement of gluconeogenesis, catabolic action) and its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive action.3Synthesis and secretion of cortisol by the adrenal gland are controlled by a negative feedback mechanism within the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal cortex-axis. If the cortisol level is low, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is secreted by the hypothalamus, which causes the pituitary to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This stimulates the synthesis and secretion of cortisol by the adrenal gland. Cortisol itself acts in a negative feedback mechanism on the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. In addition, stress is followed by increased cortisol secretion.3Serum cortisol concentrations normally show a diurnal variation.3 Maximum concentrations are usually reached early in the morning and then concentrations decline throughout the day to an evening level that is about half of the morning concentration; therefore, for interpretation of results, it is important to know the collection time of the serum sample.The cortisol status of a patient is used to diagnose the function or malfunction of the adrenal gland, the pituitary, and the hypothalamus.4,5 Thereby, cortisol serum concentrations are used for monitoring several diseases with an overproduction (eg, Cushing syndrome)6,7 or underproduction (eg, Addison disease) of cortisol and for monitoring several therapeutic approaches (eg, dexamethasone suppression therapy in Cushing syndrome and hormone replacement therapy in Addison disease).