Effect of nutrient ingestion on total-body and splanchnic cortisol production in humans

Rita Basu, Ravinder Singh, Ananda Basu, C. M. Johnson, Robert A. Rizza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


The splanchnic bed produces cortisol at rates approximating extraadrenal tissues by converting cortisone to cortisol via the 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD) type 1 pathway. It is not known whether splanchnic cortisol production is regulated by nutrient ingestion and/or by the accompanying changes in hormone secretion. To address this question, 18 healthy humans were randomized to ingest either a mixed meal or to receive an intravenous saline infusion while total-body, splanchnic, and D3 cortisol production (an index of 11β-HSD type 1 activity) were measured using the combined hepatic catheterization and D4 cortisol infusion methods. Fasting glucose and insulin concentrations did not differ on the meal and saline study days. Glucose and insulin concentrations increased after meal ingestion, peaking at 11.0 ± 1.0 mmol/l and 451 ± 64 pmol/l, respectively, at 45 min, then fell to baseline thereafter. In contrast, glucose and insulin concentrations slowly fell to 5.1 ± 0.1 mmol/l and 27 ± 6 pmol/l during the 6 h of observation on the saline study day. Fasting cortisol concentration did not differ on the meal and saline study days. Cortisol increased (P < 0.05) to a peak of 353 ± 55 nmol/l after meal ingestion but did not change after saline infusion. The increase in cortisol after meal ingestion was associated with an increase in both total body cortisol (from 748 ± 63 to 1,620 ± 235 nmol/min; P < 0.01) and total body D3 cortisol (from 99 ± 11 to 143 ± 11 nmol/min; P < 0.01) production, whereas there was no change either on the saline study day. The increase in total-body cortisol and D3 cortisol production after meal ingestion originated in extrasplanchnic tissues since splanchnic cortisol production (mean 0-360 min: 254 ± 83 vs. 262 ± 36 nmol/min) and splanchnic D3 cortisol production (mean 0-360 min: 72 ± 22 vs. 77 ± 14 nmol/min) did not differ on the meal and saline study days. We conclude that ingestion of a mixed meal does not alter either splanchnic cortisol production or the conversion of D4 cortisol to D3 cortisol or, therefore by implication, flux via the splanchnic 11β-HSD type 1 pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-674
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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