Higher hydrocortisone dose increases bilirubin in hypopituitary patients- results from an RCT

European Journal of Clinical Investigation
Jorien Werumeus BuningRobin P F Dullaart


Bilirubin has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, which may explain its proposed protective effects on the development of cardiometabolic disorders. Glucocorticoids affect heme oxygenase regulation in vitro, which plays a key role in bilirubin production. Effects of variations in glucocorticoid exposure on circulating bilirubin levels in humans are unknown. Here we tested whether a higher hydrocortisone replacement dose affects circulating bilirubin in hypopituitary patients. A randomized double-blind cross-over study (ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01546992) was performed in 47 patients with secondary adrenal failure [10-week exposure to a higher hydrocortisone dose (0·4-0·6 mg/kg body weight) vs. 10 weeks of a lower hydrocortisone dose (0·2-0·3 mg/kg body weight)]. Plasma total bilirubin was increased by 10% from 7 to 8 μM in response to the higher hydrocortisone dose (P = 0·033). This effect was inversely related to age (P = 0·042), but was unaffected by sex, obesity and (replacement for) other hormonal insufficiencies. The higher hydrocortisone dose also resulted in lower alkaline phosphatase (P = 0·006) and aspartate aminotransferase activities (P = 0·001). Bilirubin is modestly increased in response to higher ...Continue Reading


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