Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 315–322 | Cite as

Salivary but not plasma cortisone tracks the plasma cortisol response to exercise: effect of time of day

  • P. Del CorralEmail author
  • R. C. Schurman
  • S. S. Kinza
  • M. J. Fitzgerald
  • C. A. Kordick
  • J. L. Rusch
  • J. B. Nadolski
Original Article



The cortisol, cortisone, corticosterone, and CBG responses to exercise in the AM and PM have not been described. This study examined the response of these glucocorticoids and CBG to intense exercise in 12 endurance-trained men in plasma (Pl) and saliva (Sa).


Each subject completed treadmill exercise in the morning and evening. Paired blood and Sa samples were obtained at rest before and after exercise.


Significant time effect existed for Pl-cortisol and Sa-cortisol from baseline in the AM and PM (p < 0.01). Pl-cortisone and CBG significantly increased in the PM (p < 0.01). Pl-corticosterone increased in the AM and PM (p < 0.01). Unlike Pl-cortisone, Sa-cortisone was significantly higher in the AM compared to the PM, increasing in the AM and PM (All p < 0.01). Strong associations were found between Pl-cortisol and Sa-cortisol (r = 0.81, p < 0.0001), Pl-cortisol and Sa-cortisone (r = 0.81, p < 0.0001).


(1) Intense EX induces a similar increase in Pl-cortisone (~90 %) and corticosterone (~200 %) in the AM and PM, whereas exercise increases CBG in the PM, but not in the AM; (2) vigorous exercise increases Sa-cortisone; (3) Sa-cortisone and cortisol are equally strongly correlated to Pl-cortisol, suggesting a significant role for Sa-cortisone as a novel marker of free cortisol during exercise.


Stress Circadian rhythm Athletes Exertion 



The authors would like to thank Edward T. Howley, PhD, Robin Rylaarsdam, PhD, and Hugo Eiler DVM, PhD for reviewing an earlier draft of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that no conflict of interest exists.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Each subject completed a medical history questionnaire and was asked to read and ask questions, before signing an informed consent form approved by the Institutional Review Board of Benedictine University.


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Del Corral
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. C. Schurman
    • 1
  • S. S. Kinza
    • 1
  • M. J. Fitzgerald
    • 1
  • C. A. Kordick
    • 1
  • J. L. Rusch
    • 1
  • J. B. Nadolski
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, College of ScienceBenedictine UniversityLisleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, College of ScienceBenedictine UniversityLisleUSA

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