Objective: In postmenopausal women, a relationship between luteinizing hormone (LH) and cortisol levels has been suggested. Furthermore, LH receptors in the adrenal gland have been shown to mediate adrenocorticotropic hormone–independent Cushing syndrome. In contrast, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) receptors have not been found in the adrenal gland. Our objective was to explore the relationship of LH with adrenal function in postmenopausal women, as assessed by 24-hour urinary free cortisol (UFC) and aldosterone excretion rate (AER).
Methods: Participants were studied at a single time point in the fasting state in the Clinical Research Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We studied 36 postmenopausal women in sodium balance to control for variation in endogenous levels of plasma renin activity and angiotensin II. Serum cortisol, aldosterone, LH, and FSH levels were measured, as were 24-hour UFC and AER. Correlations were performed by calculation of Pearson’s correlation coefficient.
Results: Serum LH correlated significantly with log-transformed UFC (r = 0.43, P = 0.01) and inversely with log AER (r = −0.50, P = 0.002). We found no correlation of serum LH with serum cortisol or aldosterone, nor did we find correlation of FSH with these parameters.
Conclusions: In postmenopausal women, serum LH levels correlate significantly with UFC (positively) and AER (negatively). LH stimulation may induce subtle shifts in adrenal function toward cortisol secretion.