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Open access

Aneta Gawlik, Michael Shmoish, Michaela F Hartmann, Stefan A Wudy, Zbigniew Olczak, Katarzyna Gruszczynska, and Ze’ev Hochberg


Analysis of steroids by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) defines a subject’s steroidal fingerprint. Here, we compare the steroidal fingerprints of obese children with or without liver disease to identify the ‘steroid metabolomic signature’ of childhood nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.


Urinary samples of 85 children aged 8.5–18.0 years with BMI >97% were quantified for 31 steroid metabolites by GC-MS. The fingerprints of 21 children with liver disease (L1) as assessed by sonographic steatosis (L1L), elevated alanine aminotransferases (L1A) or both (L1AL), were compared to 64 children without markers of liver disease (L0). The steroidal signature of the liver disease was generated as the difference in profiles of L1 against L0 groups.


L1 comparing to L0 presented higher fasting triglycerides (P = 0.004), insulin (P = 0.002), INS/GLU (P = 0.003), HOMA-IR (P = 0.002), GGTP (P = 0.006), AST/SGOT (P = 0.002), postprandial glucose (P = 0.001) and insulin (P = 0.011). L1AL showed highest level of T-cholesterol and triglycerides (P = 0.029; P = 0.044). Fasting insulin, postprandial glucose, INS/GLU and HOMA-IR were highest in L1L and L1AL (P = 0.001; P = 0.017; P = 0.001; P = 0.001). The liver disease steroidal signature was marked by lower DHEA and its metabolites, higher glucocorticoids (mostly tetrahydrocortisone) and lower mineralocorticoid metabolites than L0. L1 patients showed higher 5α-reductase and 21-hydroxylase activity (the highest in L1A and L1AL) and lower activity of 11βHSD1 than L0 (P = 0.041, P = 0.009, P = 0.019).


The ‘steroid metabolomic signature’ of liver disease in childhood obesity provides a new approach to the diagnosis and further understanding of its metabolic consequences. It reflects the derangements of steroid metabolism in NAFLD that includes enhanced glucocorticoids and deranged androgens and mineralocorticoids.

Open access

Britt J van Keulen, Michelle Romijn, Bibian van der Voorn, Marita de Waard, Michaela F. Hartmann, Johannes B. van Goudoever, Stefan A. Wudy, Joost Rotteveel, and Martijn J.j. Finken


Sex-specific differences in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity might explain why male preterm infants are at higher risk of neonatal mortality and morbidity than their female counterparts. We examined whether male and female preterm infants differed in cortisol production and metabolism at 10 days post-partum.

Design and methods

This prospective study included 36 preterm born infants (18 boys) with a very low birth weight (VLBW) (<1.500 gram). At 10 days postnatal age, urine was collected over a 4- to 6-hr period. Glucocorticoid metabolites were measured using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Main outcome measures were: (1) cortisol excretion rate, (2) sum of all glucocorticoid metabolites, as an index of corticosteroid excretion rate, and (3) ratio of 11-OH/11-OXO metabolites, as an estimate of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD) activity. Differences between sexes, including interaction with Score of Neonatal Acute Physiology Perinatal Extension-II (SNAPPE II), sepsis and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), were assessed.


No differences between sexes were found for cortisol excretion rate, corticosteroid excretion rate or 11β-HSD activity. Interaction was observed between: sex and SNAPPE II score on 11β-HSD activity (p=0.04) and sex and BPD on cortisol excretion rate (p=0.04).


This study did not provide evidence for sex-specific differences in adrenocortical function in preterm VLBW infants on a group level. However, in an interaction model sex differences became manifest under stressful circumstances. These patterns might provide clues for the male disadvantage in neonatal mortality and morbidity following preterm birth. However, due to the small sample size, the data should be seen as hypothesis generating.