Acute interaction between hydrocortisone and insulin alters the plasma metabolome in humans

Alwashih, Mohammad A. and Stimson, Roland H. and Andrew, Ruth and Walker, Brian R. and Watson, David G. (2017) Acute interaction between hydrocortisone and insulin alters the plasma metabolome in humans. Scientific Reports, 7 (1). 11488. ISSN 2045-2322 (

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With the aim of identifying biomarkers of glucocorticoid action and their relationship with biomarkers of insulin action, metabolomic profiling was carried out in plasma samples from twenty healthy men who were administered either a low or medium dose insulin infusion (n = 10 each group). In addition, all subjects were given metyrapone (to inhibit adrenal cortisol secretion) +/-hydrocortisone (HC) in a randomised crossover design to produce low, medium and high glucocorticoid levels. The clearest effects of insulin were to reduce plasma levels of the branched chain amino acids (BCAs) leucine/isoleucine and their deaminated metabolites, and lowered free fatty acids and acylcarnitines. The highest dose of hydrocortisone increased plasma BCAs in both insulin groups but increased free fatty acids only in the high insulin group, however hydrocortisone did not affect the levels of acyl carnitines in either group. The clearest interaction between HC and insulin was that hydrocortisone produced an elevation in levels of BCAs and their metabolites which were lowered by insulin. The direct modulation of BCAs by glucocorticoids and insulin may provide the basis for improved in vivo monitoring of glucocorticoid and insulin action.


Alwashih, Mohammad A. ORCID logoORCID:, Stimson, Roland H., Andrew, Ruth, Walker, Brian R. and Watson, David G. ORCID logoORCID:;