Hair cortisol and inhaled corticosteroid use in asthmatic children

Esmé J Baan, Erica L T van den Akker, Marjolein Engelkes, Yolanda B de Rijke, Johan C de Jongste, Miriam C J M Sturkenboom, Katia M Verhamme, Hettie M Janssens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Adrenal suppression is a side effect of long-term use of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). Hair cortisol concentration (HCC) measurement is a noninvasive tool for measuring adrenal function that may be useful for asthmatic patients who are on long-term ICS treatment. The aim of this study was to compare HCC between children with and without asthma and to explore the association between HCC and ICS dose in asthmatic children.

METHODS: A cross-sectional observational study in subjects with or without asthma (n = 72 and 226, respectively, age 6-21 years). Hair samples were obtained from the posterior vertex for each subject and data on medication use were collected using questionnaires. HCC was analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry in the most proximal 3 cm of hair.

RESULTS: Median HCC was significantly lower in subjects with asthma than in subjects without asthma: 1.83 pg/mg and 2.39 pg/mg, respectively (P value after adjustment for age, sex, and body mass index: .036). Median HCC was 1.98 pg/mg in asthmatics using no ICS, 1.84 pg/mg in those using a low dose, 1.75 pg/mg in those on a medium dose, and 1.46 in those using a high ICS dose (P = .54).

CONCLUSION: We observed a significantly lower HCC in asthmatics than in healthy controls and a nonsignificant trend of lower HCC with increasing ICS dose. Whether HCC measurement may be used to detect individuals at risk for hypocortisolism and may be useful to monitor adrenal function in asthmatic children using ICS needs to be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-321
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Pulmonology
Issue number2
Early online date25 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • adrenal insufficiency
  • asthma
  • diagnostic techniques and procedures
  • drug‐related side effects and adverse reactions
  • glucocorticoids


Dive into the research topics of 'Hair cortisol and inhaled corticosteroid use in asthmatic children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this