Journal of the Endocrine Society Journal Article

Salivary Cortisol and Cortisone

September 28, 2020
 

Joshua Kannankeril, Ty Carroll, James W Findling, Bradley Javorsky, Ian L Gunsolus, Jonathan Phillips, Hershel Raff
Journal of the Endocrine Society, Volume 4, Issue 10, 1 October 2020, bvaa107
https://doi.org/10.1210/jendso/bvaa107

Abstract

Context

Late-night salivary cortisol (LNSC) measured by enzyme immunoassay (EIA-F) is a first-line screening test for Cushing syndrome (CS) with a reported sensitivity and specificity of >90%. However, liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, validated to measure salivary cortisol (LCMS-F) and cortisone (LCMS-E), has been proposed to be superior diagnostically.

Objective, Setting, and Main Outcome Measures

Prospectively evaluate the diagnostic performance of EIA-F, LCMS-F, and LCMS-E in 1453 consecutive late-night saliva samples from 705 patients with suspected CS.

Design

Patients grouped by the presence or absence of at least one elevated salivary steroid result and then subdivided by diagnosis.

Results

We identified 283 patients with at least one elevated salivary result; 45 had an established diagnosis of neoplastic hypercortisolism (CS) for which EIA-F had a very high sensitivity (97.5%). LCMS-F and LCMS-E had lower sensitivity but higher specificity than EIA-F. EIA-F had poor sensitivity (31.3%) for adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-independent CS (5 patients with at least 1 and 11 without any elevated salivary result). In patients with Cushing disease (CD), most nonelevated LCMS-F results were in patients with persistent/recurrent CD; their EIA-F levels were lower than in patients with newly diagnosed CD.

Conclusions

Since the majority of patients with ≥1 elevated late-night salivary cortisol or cortisone result did not have CS, a single elevated level has poor specificity and positive predictive value. LNSC measured by EIA is a sensitive test for ACTH-dependent Cushing syndrome but not for ACTH-independent CS. We suggest that neither LCMS-F nor LCMS-E improves the sensitivity of late-night EIA-F for CS.

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