Using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, urinary excretion rates of cortisol, cortisone and of various steroid metabolites were determined in 35 acromegalic patients (18 men, 17 women) and in 45 age- and weight-matched controls. The ratio of excreted cortisol/cortisone was similar in acromegalics (0.75 ± 0.20) and in controls (0.75 ± 0.24). Hence, the preponderance of the main cortisone-derived metabolite, tetrahydrocortisone, over the main metabolites of cortisol (tetrahydrocortisol and allotetrahydrocortisol; p < 0.01), which was seen both in female and in male acromegalics and which was directly correlated with the postglucose concentrations of growth hormone (r = 0.508, p < 0.01), suggests a decreased activity of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in acromegaly. Furthermore, the preponderance of etiocholanolone over androsterone (p < 0.01) in men (though not in women) with acromegaly – the ratio androsterone/etiocholanolone being negatively correlated with the serum concentrations of insulin-like growth factor type 1 (r = –0.406, p < 0.05) – suggests a relatively reduced activity of hepatic 5α-reductase in male acromegalics.

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