Background: Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a multisymptomatic, rare, genetic, neurodevelopmental disorder in adults mainly characterized by hyperphagia, cognitive dysfunction, behavioral problems and risk of morbid obesity. Although endocrine insufficiencies are common, hypocortisolism is rare and knowledge on long-term cortisol concentrations is lacking. The aim of this study was to evaluate long-term cortisol levels in PWS by measurements of hair cortisol. Methods: Twenty-nine adults with PWS, 15 men and 14 women, median age 29 years, median BMI 27 kg/m2 , were included. Scalp hair samples were analyzed for cortisol content using liquid-chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry. In addition, a questionnaire on auxology, medication and stress were included. For comparison, 105 age- and sex-matched participants from the population-based Lifelines Cohort study were included as controls. The mean hair cortisol between the groups were compared and associations between BMI and stress were assessed by a generalized linear regression model. Results: In the PWS group large variations in hair cortisol was seen. Mean hair cortisol was 12.8 ± 25.4 pg/mg compared to 3.8 ± 7.3 pg/mg in controls (p = 0.001). The linear regression model similarly showed higher cortisol levels in patients with PWS, which remained consistent after adjusting for BMI and stress (p = 0.023). Furthermore, hair cortisol increased with BMI (p = 0.012) and reported stress (p = 0.014). Conclusion: Long-term cortisol concentrations were higher in patients with PWS compared to controls and increased with BMI and stress, suggesting an adequate cortisol response to chronic stress. Hair cortisol demonstrate promising applications in the context of PWS treatment and disease management.

Prader-Willi syndrome, Hair cortisol, Chronic stress, Obesity,
BMC Endocrine Disorders
Department of Clinical Chemistry

Shukur, H.H., de Rijke, Y.B, van Rossum, E.F.C, Hussain-Alkhateeb, L., & Hoÿbye, C. (2020). Hair cortisol-a method to detect chronic cortisol levels in patients with Prader-Willi syndrome. BMC Endocrine Disorders, 20(1). doi:10.1186/s12902-020-00646-w