2022 journal article
Endogenous Diurnal Patterns of Adrenal and Gonadal Hormones During a 24-Hour Constant Routine After Simulated Shift Work
JOURNAL OF THE ENDOCRINE SOCIETY, 6(12).
Abstract Context Night-shift work causes circadian misalignment, predicts the development of metabolic diseases, and complicates the interpretation of hormone measurements. Objective To investigate endogenous circadian rhythms, dissociated from behavioral and environmental confounds, in adrenal and gonadal steroids after simulated shift work. Methods Fourteen healthy adults (ages 25.8 ± 3.2 years) were randomized to 3 days of night or day (control) shift work followed by a constant routine protocol designed to experimentally unveil rhythms driven endogenously by the central circadian pacemaker. Blood was sampled every 3 hours for 24 hours during the constant routine to concurrently obtain 16 Δ4 steroid profiles by mass spectrometry. Cosinor analyses of these profiles provided mesor (mean abundance), amplitude (oscillation magnitude), and acrophase (peak timing). Results Night-shift work marginally increased cortisol by 1 μg/dL (P = 0.039), and inactive/weak derivatives cortisone (P = 0.003) and 18-hydroxycortisol (P &lt; 0.001), but did not alter the mesor of potent androgens testosterone and 11-ketotestosterone. Adrenal-derived steroids, including 11-ketotestosterone (P &lt; 0.01), showed robust circadian rhythmicity after either day- or night-shift work. In contrast, testosterone and progesterone showed no circadian pattern after both shift work conditions. Night-shift work did not alter the amplitude or acrophase of any of the steroid profiles. Conclusion Experimental circadian misalignment had minimal effects on steroidogenesis. Adrenal steroids, but not gonadal hormones, showed endogenous circadian regulation robust to prior shift schedule. This dichotomy may predispose night-shift workers to metabolic ill health. Furthermore, adrenal steroids, including cortisol and the main adrenal androgen 11-ketostosterone, should always be evaluated during the biological morning whereas assessment of gonadal steroids, particularly testosterone, is dependent on the shift-work schedule.