Long-term cortisol levels are not associated with nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) colonizes the anterior nares in part of the population and the persistent carrier state is associated with increased infection risk. Knowledge concerning the determinants of S. aureus nasal carriage is limited. Previously, we found that glucocorticoid receptor polymorphisms influence carrier risk, suggesting involvement of glucocorticoids. Our aim was to study long-term cortisol levels in non-carriers, intermittent, and persistent carriers of S. aureus. We hypothesized that cortisol levels are higher in carriers, since cortisol-induced immune suppression would enhance S. aureus colonization. We determined nasal carrier state and long-term hair cortisol levels in 72 healthy subjects. Nasal swabs were collected twice with an interval of 2 weeks. Cortisol levels were determined in hair segments of 3 cm, which corresponds to a period of roughly 3 months. Of all 72 participants, 38 were non-carriers, 10 were intermittent carriers, and 24 were persistent carriers of S. aureus. Cortisol levels did not differ between these carrier groups (p = 0.638). Long-term cortisol levels are not associated with S. aureus nasal carriage.