Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVE: 11beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1) regenerates cortisol from cortisone. 11beta-HSD1 mRNA and activity are increased in vitro in subcutaneous adipose tissue from obese patients. Inhibition of 11beta-HSD1 is a promising therapeutic approach in type 2 diabetes. However, release of cortisol by 11beta-HSD1 from adipose tissue and its effect on portal vein cortisol concentrations have not been quantified in vivo. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Six healthy men underwent 9,11,12,12-[(2)H](4)-cortisol infusions with simultaneous sampling of arterialized and superficial epigastric vein blood sampling. Four men with stable chronic liver disease and a transjugular intrahepatic porto-systemic shunt in situ underwent tracer infusion with simultaneous sampling from the portal vein, hepatic vein, and an arterialized peripheral vein. RESULTS: Significant cortisol and 9,12,12-[(2)H](3)-cortisol release were observed from subcutaneous adipose tissue (15.0 [95% CI 0.4-29.5] and 8.7 [0.2-17.2] pmol . min(-1) . 100 g(-1) adipose tissue, respectively). Splanchnic release of cortisol and 9,12,12-[(2)H](3)-cortisol (13.5 [3.6-23.5] and 8.0 [2.6-13.5] nmol/min, respectively) was accounted for entirely by the liver; release of cortisol from visceral tissues into portal vein was not detected. CONCLUSIONS: Cortisol is released from subcutaneous adipose tissue by 11beta-HSD1 in humans, and increased enzyme expression in obesity is likely to increase local glucocorticoid signaling and contribute to whole-body cortisol regeneration. However, visceral adipose 11beta-HSD1 activity is insufficient to increase portal vein cortisol concentrations and hence to influence intrahepatic glucocorticoid signaling.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





46 - 53


11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1, Adipose Tissue, Adult, Aged, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Liver, Male, Middle Aged, Molecular Structure, Obesity, Splanchnic Circulation, Young Adult