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Acute interaction between hydrocortisone and insulin alters the plasma metabolome in humans

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Brian WalkerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2017 The Author(s). With the aim of identifying biomarkers of glucocorticoid action and their relationship with biomarkers of insulin action, metabolomic profiling was carried out in plasma samples from twenty healthy men who were administered either a low or medium dose insulin infusion (n = 10 each group). In addition, all subjects were given metyrapone (to inhibit adrenal cortisol secretion) +/-hydrocortisone (HC) in a randomised crossover design to produce low, medium and high glucocorticoid levels. The clearest effects of insulin were to reduce plasma levels of the branched chain amino acids (BCAs) leucine/isoleucine and their deaminated metabolites, and lowered free fatty acids and acylcarnitines. The highest dose of hydrocortisone increased plasma BCAs in both insulin groups but increased free fatty acids only in the high insulin group, however hydrocortisone did not affect the levels of acyl carnitines in either group. The clearest interaction between HC and insulin was that hydrocortisone produced an elevation in levels of BCAs and their metabolites which were lowered by insulin. The direct modulation of BCAs by glucocorticoids and insulin may provide the basis for improved in vivo monitoring of glucocorticoid and insulin action.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Alwashih MA, Stimson RH, Andrew R, Walker BR, Watson DG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2017

Volume: 7

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 13/09/2017

Acceptance date: 07/08/2017

Date deposited: 21/12/2017

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-10200-9


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Funder referenceFunder name
Wellcome Trust