Many Endocrinologists believe that a single determination of eucortisolism or a single demonstration of appropriate suppression to dexamethasone excluded Cushing’s syndrome, except in what was previously thought to be the rare patient with episodic or periodic Cushing’s syndrome. We hypothesize that episodic Cushing’s syndrome is relatively common and a single test assessing hypercortisolism may not be sufficient to accurately rule out or diagnose Cushing’s syndrome and retrospectively examined the number of normal and abnormal tests assessing hypercortisolism performed on multiple occasions in 66 patients found to have mild and/or episodic Cushing’s syndrome compared to a similar group of 54 patients evaluated for, but determined not to have Cushing’s syndrome. We found that 65 of the 66 patients with Cushing’s syndrome had at least one normal test of cortisol status and most patients had several normal tests. The probability of having Cushing’s syndrome when one test was negative was 92 % for 23:00 h salivary cortisol, 88 % for 24-h UFC, 86 % for 24-h 17OHS, and 54 % for nighttime plasma cortisol. These results demonstrated that episodic hypercortisolism is highly prevalent in subjects with mild Cushing’s syndrome and no single test was effective in conclusively diagnosing or excluding the condition. Rather, the paradigm for the diagnosis should be a careful history and physical examination and in those patients in whom mild Cushing’s syndrome/disease is strongly suspected, multiple tests assessing hypercortisolism should be performed on subsequent occasions, especially when the patient is experiencing signs and symptoms of short-term hypercortisolism.
Cushing’s syndrome; episodic; periodic; urinary free cortisol; salivary cortisol; cortisol-binding globulin; 17-hydroxycorticosteroids
Malignancies of the gallbladder, including neuroendocrine tumors, are uncommon, mostly found incidentally after cholecystectomy and are frequently asymptomatic in the early stages, but highly fatal. Limited data is available on adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing neuroendocrine tumors specifically originating from the gallbladder. We report the clinical and radiographic findings, which included positron emission tomography and computed tomography, of a patient with a gallbladder mass who presented with Cushing’s syndrome. Subsequently, a diagnosis of ACTH-producing large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of the gallbladder was made. Despite being rare and having a poor prognosis, hormone-producing neuroendocrine tumors should be part of the differential diagnosis in the approach of patients with Cushing’s syndrome.
Adrenocorticotropic hormone; Cushing’s syndrome; Neuroendocrine; Carcinoma; Gallbladder
A 22-year-old G1P0 was admitted at 26 weeks gestation for preeclampsia, hyperglycaemia and cushingoid features. Elevated 24-h urine free cortisol (UFC) and suppressed plasma adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) suggested ACTH-independent Cushing’s syndrome. Ultrasound showed left adrenal mass. She delivered preterm at 28 weeks due to severe preeclampsia and fetal distress. The infant expired after 4 days. Blood pressure was controlled after delivery and the patient was discharged on ketoconazole. Adrenalectomy was planned postpartum; however, she withdrew consent and was lost to follow-up.
A 33-year-old G1P1 presented with gestational diabetes. Pregnancy was complicated by premature delivery at 31 weeks for fetal distress. The baby improved and survived. Three months postpartum, she was evaluated for osteoporosis after sustaining a fracture from a fall. Cushingoid facies, elevated 24-h UFC, suppressed ACTH and a right adrenal mass on MRI confirmed an ACTH-independent Cushing’s syndrome. She underwent adrenalectomy and improved.
To construct a prediction model of preference-adjusted health status (SF-6D) for Cushing’s syndrome using a disease-specific health-related quality of life (HRQOL) measure (CushingQoL).
Data were obtained from the original multicenter, multinational study to validate the CushingQoL questionnaire. HRQOL was measured using the CushingQoL and the SF-36 questionnaires. SF-6D scores were calculated from responses on the SF-36. Sociodemographic and clinical data were also collected. Various predictive models were tested and the final one was selected on the basis of four criteria: explanatory power, consistency of estimated coefficients, normality of prediction errors, and parsimony.
For the mapping analysis, data were available from 116 of the 125 patients included in the original validation study. Mean (SD) age was 45.3 (13.1) years and the sample was predominantly (83 %) female. Patients had a mean (SD) CushingQoL score of 52.9 (21.9), whereas the SF-6D (derived from SF-36) was skewed towards better health with a mean of 0.71 (median 0.74) on a scale of −0.704 to 1. Of the various models tested, a model which included the intercept (0.61), CushingQoL overall score, level one in CushingQoL item 2 (always have pain preventing me from leading a normal life), and level one in CushingQoL item 10 (my illness always affects my everyday activities) best met the four criteria for model selection. The model had an adjusted R2 of 0.60 and a root mean square error of 0.084.
Although the mapping function finally selected appears to be able to accurately map CushingQoL scores onto SF-6D outcomes at the group level, further testing is required to validate the model in independent patient samples.
We assessed anterior pituitary function in five patients with Cushing's syndrome before and after the removal of cortisol-secreting adrenal adenomas. Before surgery, all patients lacked response of growth hormone to hypoglycaemia, four had low responses of thyrotrophin to thyrotrophin releasing hormone, three had hypogonadism and two had low prolactin reserve. After successful removal of the adrenal adenoma, all patients developed postoperative hypoadrenocorticism and recovered all impaired anterior pituitary hormones within a period of 3 months. Our results point to a direct inhibiting action of glucocorticoids at the pituitary level as the explanation for the impaired anterior pituitary function. Moreover, direct gonadal suppression by glucocorticoids may be an additional mechanism of hypogonadism in some patients.
Bilateral macronodular adrenocortical disease as a part of McCune Albright Syndrome (MAS) is the most common cause of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in infancy. Adrenocortical tumors causing CS in infancy are extremely rare. We report the case of a girl with CS who presented at age 4 months with obesity and growth retardation. Her 8 am paired cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone levels were 49.3 μg/dL and <1 pg/mL, respectively with non-suppressed serum cortisol (41 μg/dL) on high-dose dexamethasone suppression test. Abdominal computed tomography scan demonstrated a 5.3x4.8x3.7 cm homogenous left adrenal mass with distinct borders. Laparotomy following pre-operative stabilization with ketoconazole 200 mg/day, revealed a 7.5x5x4 cm lobulated left adrenal mass with intact capsule and weighing 115 grams. Histopathology showed small round adrenal tumor cells with increased nucleo-cytoplasmic ratio and prominent nucleoli. The cells were separated by fibrous septae without any evidence of vascular or capsular invasion– findings consistent with adrenal adenoma. On the 8th post-operative day, after withholding hydrocortisone supplementation, the 8 am cortisol level was <1 μg/dL, suggestive of biochemical remission of CS. The patient improved clinically with a 7.5 kg weight loss over the next 3.5 months. This is perhaps the youngest ever reported infant with CS due to adrenal adenoma. Lack of clinical and biochemical evidence of hyperandrogenism as well as the benign histology in spite of the large tumor size (>7 cm diameter; 115 g) are some of the unique features of our patient.
Conflict of interest:None declared.
Cushing’s syndrome; infancy; adrenal adenoma; ketoconazole
Objective To investigate whether there is an increased risk of cardiovascular events in people who exhibit iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome during treatment with glucocorticoids.
Design Cohort study.
Setting 424 UK general practices contributing to The Health Improvement Network database.
Participants People prescribed systemic glucocorticoids and with a diagnosis of iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome (n=547) and two comparison groups: those prescribed glucocorticoids and with no diagnosis of iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome (n=3231) and those not prescribed systemic glucocorticoids (n=3282).
Main outcome measures Incidence of cardiovascular events within a year after diagnosis of iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome or after a randomly selected date, and association between iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome and risk of cardiovascular events.
Results 417 cardiovascular events occurred in 341 patients. Taking into account only the first event by patient (coronary heart disease n=177, heart failure n=101, ischaemic stroke n=63), the incidence rates of cardiovascular events per 100 person years at risk were 15.1 (95% confidence interval 11.8 to 18.4) in those prescribed glucocorticoids and with a diagnosis of iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome, 6.4 (5.5 to 7.3) in those prescribed glucocorticoids without a diagnosis of iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome, and 4.1 (3.4 to 4.8) in those not prescribed glucocorticoids. In multivariate analyses adjusted for sex, age, intensity of glucocorticoid use, underlying disease, smoking status, and use of aspirin, diabetes drugs, antihypertensive drugs, lipid lowering drugs, or oral anticoagulant drugs, the relation between iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome and cardiovascular events was strong (adjusted hazard ratios 2.27 (95% confidence interval 1.48 to 3.47) for coronary heart disease, 3.77 (2.41 to 5.90) for heart failure, and 2.23 (0.96 to 5.17) for ischaemic cerebrovascular events). The adjusted hazard ratio for any cardiovascular event was 4.16 (2.98 to 5.82) when the group prescribed glucocorticoids and with iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome was compared with the group not prescribed glucocorticoids.
Conclusion People who use glucocorticoids and exhibit iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome should be aggressively targeted for early screening and management of cardiovascular risk factors.
Cushing’s syndrome is caused by prolonged exposure to excess glucocorticoids. Diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome involves a step-wise approach and establishing the cause can be challenging in some cases. Hypertension is present in about 80% of patients with Cushing’s syndrome and can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Several pathogenic mechanisms have been proposed for glucocorticoid-induced hypertension including a functional mineralocorticoid excess state, up-regulation of the renin angiotensin system and deleterious effects of cortisol on the vasculature. Surgical excision of the cause of excess glucocorticoids remains the optimal treatment for Cushing’s syndrome. Anti-glucocorticoid and antihypertensive agents and steroidogenesis inhibitors can be used as adjunctive treatment modalities in preparation for surgery, and in cases where surgery is contraindicated or has not led to cure.
Cushing’s syndrome; hypertension; glucocorticoids; ectopic ACTH secretion; 11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase; hypercortisolemia
Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis impairment in anorexia nervosa is marked by hypercortisolemia, and psychiatric disorders occur in the majority of patients with Cushing’s syndrome. Here we report a patient diagnosed with anorexia nervosa who also developed Cushing’s syndrome. A 26-year-old female had been treated for anorexia nervosa since she was 17 years old, and also developed depression and paranoid schizophrenia. She was admitted to the Department of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Internal Medicine with a preliminary diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome. Computed tomography revealed a 27 mm left adrenal tumor, and she underwent laparoscopic adrenalectomy. She was admitted to hospital 6 months after this procedure, at which time she did not report any eating or mood disorder. This is a rare case report of a patient with anorexia nervosa in whom Cushing’s syndrome was subsequently diagnosed. Diagnostic difficulties were caused by the signs and symptoms presenting in the course of both disorders, ie, hypercortisolemia, osteoporosis, secondary amenorrhea, striae, hypokalemia, muscle weakness, and depression.
anorexia nervosa; Cushing’s syndrome; adrenalectomy; osteoporosis
Cushing’s syndrome is characterised by a series of clinical manifestations due to hypersecretion of cortisol. These include: arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus (DM), asthenia, amenorrhea, osteoporosis and pathological fractures. We describe the case of a 70-year-old woman with Cushing’s syndrome with right adrenal adenoma, vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) and severe secondary osteoporosis. This patient had been diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome in May 2008, three years after the onset of arterial hypertension and type II DM, treated with insulin; in July 2008, she underwent right adrenalectomy and replacement therapy with cortisone acetate, 37.5 mg/day, in association with a multiple drug regimen for hypertension and DM; she also had an at least 10-year history of dorso-lumbar pain with multiple disc protrusions. As part of a series of investigations for Cushing’s syndrome the patient underwent femoral bone mineral densitometry, recording a T-score <−3, radiographic examination of the dorso-lumbar spine, which revealed collapse of the superior endplate of D7 and a wedge fracture of D8. At the endocrinology centre of reference for Cushing’s syndrome, she began treatment with alendronate 70 mg/day without undergoing blood chemistry tests of bone metabolism and without calcium and vitamin D supplementation. At the end of August 2009, she experienced worsening spinal pain due to a new severe fracture of D9, which was confirmed on MRI as a recent fracture. At the end of December 2009 she received kyphoplasty of D9, antiresorptive therapy and a CAMP-C35 brace.
In January 2010 she was admitted to the specialist rehabilitation unit for functional recovery, in view of her comorbidities, and bone disease investigation, with collection of history relating to osteoporosis risk factors. First- and second-level blood chemistry analyses revealed the presence of iron-deficiency anaemia, mild chronic renal insufficiency, and secondary hyerparathyroidism (PTH 101ng/ml); spinal radiography revealed severe VCFs of D7, D8 and D9, treated with kyphoplasty; the patient was also assessed using the VAS for pain, the FIM to evaluate independence in activities of daily living, and the SF-36 to investigate quality of life. The alendronate treatment was suspended and the patient was given cholecalciferol 300,000 IU, administered as an oral bolus, followed by a maintenance dose of 800 IU/day. When PTH values had returned to normal, she began treatment with teriparatide 20 mcg/day s.c. (therapeutic plan in compliance with Note 79 issued by the AIFA - Italian Drug Agency).
In conclusion, this case underlines the importance of a correct diagnostic and therapeutic approach in patients with severe osteoporosis. Over time, we will evaluate the efficacy of the treatment in preventing new fractures and the whether the use of a bone anabolic agent might be the correct choice also in order to control pain and improve quality of life. There are no reports in the literature of patients with Cushing’s syndrome treated with teriparatide.
Women with Cushing’s syndrome (CS) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may present with similar symptoms. Subjects with mild CS lack clinical stigmata of classical CS and often have normal laboratory tests measuring hypercortisolism. Thus, distinguishing mild CS from PCOS may be difficult. We hypothesized that either total testosterone (TT) or bioavailable testosterone (BT) levels or the calculation of the free androgen index (FAI) would be low in patients with mild CS and elevated in patients with PCOS, and could help differentiate the two conditions. TT, BT, and FAI were measured in a group of 20 patients of reproductive age with mild CS and 20 PCOS patients matched for age and BMI. We used receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves to assess the sensitivity and specificity of these measurements for the diagnosis of CS. TT (p<0.0001), BT (p=0.02), and FAI (p=0.003) were significantly elevated in PCOS patients compared to mild CS patients. Sex hormone-binding globulin was similar in both groups. The optimal cut-point for TT was 1.39 nmol/L, yielding a sensitivity of 95 % and a specificity of 70%. The cut-point for BT was 0.24 nmol/L, resulting in a sensitivity of 75 % and a specificity of 80%. The cut-point for FAI was 5.7, with a sensitivity of 88 % and a specificity of 60 %. We conclude that TT levels may be useful to discriminate between mild CS and PCOS. In patients with signs and symptoms consistent with CS and PCOS, a TT level of <1.39nmol/L warrants a workup for CS.
Cushing’s syndrome; PCOS; episodic; periodic; androgens; testosterone; ROC
The aim of this study was to examine the frequency of Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in obese patients devoid of specific clinical symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome.
A total of 150 obese patients (129 female, 21 male; mean age 44.41 ± 13.34 yr; mean BMI 35.76 ± 7.13) were included in the study. As a first screening step, we measured 24-h urinary free cortisol (UFC). An overnight 1-mg dexamethasone suppression test was also performed on all patients. Urinary free cortisol levels above 100 μg/24 h were considered to be abnormal. Suppression of serum cortisol <1.8 μg/dL after administration of 1 mg dexamethasone was the cut-off point for normal suppression. The suppression of the serum cortisol levels failed in all of the patients.
Measured laboratory values were as follows: ACTH, median level 28 pg/ml, interquartile range (IQR) 14–59 pg/ml; fasting glucose, 100 (91–113) mg/dL; insulin, 15.7 (7.57–24.45) mU/ml; fT4, 1.17 (1.05–1.4) ng/dL; TSH, 1.70 (0.91–2.90) mIU/L; total cholesterol, 209 (170.5–250) mg/dL; LDL-c, 136 (97.7–163) mg/dL; HDL-c, 44 (37.25–50.75) mg/dL; VLDL-c, 24 (17–36) mg/dL; triglycerides, 120.5 (86–165) mg/dL. The median UFC level of the patients was 30 μg/24 h (IQR 16–103). High levels of UFC (>100 μg/24 h) were recorded in 37 patients (24%). Cushing’s syndrome was diagnosed in 14 of the 150 patients (9.33%). Etiologic reasons for Cushing’s syndrome were pituitary microadenoma (9 patients), adrenocortical adenoma (3 patients), and adrenocortical carcinoma (1 patient).
A significant proportion (9.33%) of patients with simple obesity were found to have Cushing’s syndrome. These findings argue that obese patients should be routinely screened for Cushing’s syndrome.
Cushing’s syndrome; Obesity; Screening; Cortisol; Adrenocorticorticotropic hormone
Background & Aims
Children with Cushing syndrome present with growth delay and excess adiposity that tends to be generalized rather than centripetal. There are no prospective studies of this phenotype as it evolves before and after treatment in children. The aims of this study were to evaluate children prior to and one-year after surgical cure compared to controls and to determine fasting insulin levels and their possible association with waist circumference and waist-height ratio, pre- and post-cure of Cushing syndrome.
30 children with Cushing syndrome were evaluated prior to and one-year post-treatment and compared to 14 age and body mass index-matched controls.
Only triceps skin fold z- score showed a significant difference between patients with active Cushing syndrome and controls. A positive correlation between fasting insulin levels and waist circumference z- score was found for children with Cushing syndrome; this association persisted one-year following cure.
Unlike adults affected with Cushing syndrome, upper arm muscle area of children with Cushing syndrome did not differ from obese children without Cushing syndrome. The persistence of a positive correlation between waist circumference and fasting insulin despite remission of Cushing syndrome suggests that children with a history of Cushing syndrome may have an increased risk for adverse long-term effects of increased abdominal fat mass.
Clinical Trial numbers: NCT00001595, NCT00001452, NCT00005927
Cushing; pediatric; obesity; insulin resistance; waist circumference; anthropometrics
We describe a previously healthy 40-year-old woman with Cushing’s syndrome caused by adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion from metastatic carcinoid.
Over a 2-year period, the patient had multiple hospitalizations for uncontrolled hypertension, hyperglycemia, and hypokalemia. She had transient flushing, rashes, and a rapid weight gain. In addition, she developed anasarca and had a nontraumatic hip fracture 1 month before presentation. Subsequently, a hypertensive crisis resulted in admission to the intensive care unit and fine-needle aspiration of a liver lesion.
A diagnosis of metastatic carcinoid was established. She was transferred to our hospital for further evaluation and management. On arrival, she had the signs of Cushing’s syndrome. Despite extensive evaluation, her primary carcinoid tumor was not localized. She was treated successfully with bilateral adrenalectomy and octreotide.
This case illustrates how early recognition of the signs and symptoms of excess ACTH is important for prompt and appropriate treatment.
carcinoid; corticotropin; Cushing’s disease; Cushing’s syndrome; ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone; neuroendocrine tumor
A high potency, long acting and/or the extended use of oral corticosteroids, particularly in children, may cause suppression of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. However, the iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome in the infantile age group is rare and only few patients have been reported to date in the literature. Here, we are reporting a case of iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome in a 5-month-old male child, whose parents brought him to the hospital for puffiness of the face and overweight.
Infant; Iatrogenic cushing’s syndrome; Oral corticosteroid
Oncocytic neoplasms occur in several organs and are most commonly found in the thyroid, kidneys and salivary glands. Oncocytic neoplasms of the adrenal cortex are extremely rare and are usually non-functioning.
We report the case of an adrenocortical oncocytic neoplasm with uncertain malignant potential in a 31-year-old man with Cushing's syndrome. The patient had been operated on following diagnosis of a 7 cm adrenal mass. Following surgery, the Cushing's syndrome resolved. The patient is still alive with no metastases one year after the surgery.
Adrenocortical oncocytic neoplasms must be considered in the differential diagnosis of both functioning and non-functioning adrenal masses.
Bilateral adrenalectomy (BLA) is a treatment option to alleviate symptoms in patients with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome (ECS) for whom surgical treatment of the responsible nonpituitary tumor is not possible. ECS patients have an increased risk for complications, because of high cortisol levels, poor clinical condition, and metabolic disturbances. This study aims to evaluate the safety and long-term efficacy of endoscopic BLA for ECS.
From 1990 to present, 38 patients were diagnosed and treated for ECS in the Erasmus University Medical Center, a tertiary referral center. Twenty-four patients were treated with BLA (21 endoscopic, 3 open), 9 patients were treated medically, and 5 patients could be cured by complete resection of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing tumor. The medical records were retrospectively reviewed and entered into a database. For evaluation of the efficacy of BLA, preoperative biochemical and physical symptoms were assessed and compared with postoperative data.
Endoscopic BLA was successfully completed in 20 of the 21 patients; one required conversion to open BLA. Intraoperative complications occurred in two (10%) patients, and postoperative complications occurred in three (14%) patients. Median hospitalization was 9 (2–95) days, and median operating time was 246 (205–347) min. Hypercortisolism was resolved in all patients. Improvements of hypertension, body weight, Cushingoid appearance, impaired muscle strength, and ankle edema were achieved in 87, 90, 65, 61, and 78% of the patients, respectively. Resolution of diabetes, hypokalemia, and metabolic alkalosis was achieved in 33, 89, and 80%, respectively.
Endoscopic BLA is a safe and effective treatment for patients with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome.
Bilateral adrenalectomy; Endoscopic; Cushing’s syndrome; Ectopic
To evaluate the pathophysiology of altered cortisol secretion in patients with primary adrenal hypercortisolism, cortisol secretion was investigated in 12 patients, seven with a unilateral adenoma and five with ACTH-independent macronodular adrenal hyperplasia compared with age- and gender-matched controls and with patients with pituitary-dependent hypercortisolism. Pulsatile secretion was increased 2-fold (P = 04), attributable to increased event frequency (P = 0.002). All patients showed a significant diurnal rhythm with a delay in phase shift of 3 h (P = 0.01). Approximate entropy ratio, a feedback-sensitive measure, was increased compared with controls (P = 0.00003) but similar to that of pituitary-dependent hypercortisolism (P = 0.77), denoting loss of autoregulation. Cortisol burst-mass tended to be smaller in patients with ACTH-independent macronodular adrenal hyperplasia than in unilateral adenoma (P = 0.06). In conclusion, increased cortisol secretion in patients with primary adrenal Cushing’s syndrome is caused by amplified pulsatile secretion via event frequency modulation. We speculate that partial preservation of secretory regularity and diurnal rhythmicity point to incomplete autonomy of these tumors.
ACTH-R, ACTH receptor; AIMAH, ACTH-independent bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia; ApEn, approximate entropy; HSD, honestly significantly different; PVN, paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus; SCN, suprachiasmatic nucleus
In patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), Cushing’s syndrome (CS) from endogenous hypercortisolism can result from pituitary, adrenal, or other endocrine tumors. The purpose of this study was to characterize the range of presentations of CS in a large series of MEN1 patients.
Retrospective review of NIH Clinical Center inpatient records over an approximately 40 year period.
19 patients (8 males, 11 females) with CS and MEN1.
Biochemical, imaging, surgical, and pathological findings.
An etiology was determined for 14 of the 19 patients with CS and MEN1: 11 (79%) had Cushing’s disease (CD) and three (21%) had ACTH-independent CS due to adrenal tumors, frequencies indistinguishable from sporadic CS. Three of 11 MEN1 patients with CD (27%) had additional non-ACTH secreting pituitary microadenomas identified at surgery, an incidence 10-fold higher than in sporadic CD. Ninety-one percent of MEN1 patients with CD were cured after surgery. Two of three MEN1 patients with ACTH-independent CS (67%) had adrenocortical carcinoma. One patient with adrenal cancer and another with adrenal adenoma were cured by unilateral adrenalectomy. No case of ectopic ACTH secretion was identified in our patient cohort. The etiology of CS could not be defined in five patients; in three of these, hypercortisolism appeared to resolve spontaneously.
The tumor multiplicity of MEN1 can be reflected in the anterior pituitary, MEN1-associated ACTH-independent CS may be associated with aggressive adrenocortical disease, and an etiology for CS in MEN1 may be elusive in a substantial minority of patients.
ACTH-Secreting Pituitary Adenoma; Adrenal Gland Neoplasms; Cushing Syndrome; Hypophysectomy; Genes; Tumor Suppressor
A 48-year-old man presented with symptoms consistent with Cushing's syndrome. Subsequent laboratory studies revealed markedly elevated adrenocorticotropic (ACTH) and cortisol levels, as well as a hypoklemic metabolic alkalosis. A pituitary MRI was performed, which revealed a normal pituitary; however, a large mass was seen centered in the ethmoid and paranasal sinuses with a significant amount of extension into surrounding structures. A biopsy was performed and pathology of the specimen was consistent with esthesioneuroblastoma. Immunohistochemical staining further defined the tumor as an ACTH-secreting esthesioneuroblastoma. After total resection of the mass and further treatment with adjuvant radiation therapy, the patient's symtoms completely resolved and the ACTH and cortisol levels were also greatly reduced. This case demonstrates the successful diagnosis and treatment of a rare neoplasm. Ectopic ACTH syndrome due to esthesioneuroblastoma is extremely uncommon with only five other cases being discussed in the literature.
Ectopic ACTH syndrome; Cushing's syndrome; olfactory Neuroblastoma; esthesioneuroblastoma
Chronic hypercortisolemia due to Cushing’s Disease (CD) results in abnormal adipose tissue (AT) distribution. Whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to examine lean and AT distribution in female patients with CD to further understand the role of glucocorticoid excess in the development of abnormal AT distribution and obesity.
Cross-sectional and case control study.
15 females with CD and 12 healthy controls.
Mass of skeletal muscle (SM) and AT in the visceral (VAT), subcutaneous (SAT), and inter-muscular (IMAT) compartments from whole-body MRI and serum levels of insulin, glucose, and leptin were measured.
CD patients had leptin values that correlated to total AT (TAT) and SAT (p < 0.05) but not to VAT. CD patients had higher VAT/TAT ratios (p < 0.01) and lower SAT/TAT ratios (p < 0.05) compared to controls. TAT, VAT, and trunk SAT (TrSAT) were greater in CD patients (p < 0.01). SM was less in CD (p < 0.001) but IMAT was not different.
TAT, VAT, trSAT, and the proportion of AT in the visceral depot were greater in CD, though the proportion in the subcutaneous depot was less. SM was less but IMAT was not different. These findings have implications for understanding the role of cortisol in the abnormal AT distribution and metabolic risk seen in patients exposed to chronic excess glucocorticoids.
Cushing syndrome; Metabolic syndrome; Intra-abdominal fat; Adipose tissue, brown; Leptin
Spontaneous remission is rare in ectopic ACTH syndrome (EAS). We describe four patients with presumed EAS in whom long-term treatment with steroidogenesis inhibitors was followed by prolonged remission of hypercortisolemia. Biochemical testing was consistent with EAS, but imaging failed to identify a tumor. Patients were treated with ketoconazole alone or with mitotane and/or metyrapone to control hypercortisolemia. Dexamethasone was added when a block and replace strategy was used. Treatment with steroidogenesis inhibitors for 3–10 years in these patients was followed by a prolonged period of remission (15–60 months). During remission, the first patient had an elevated ACTH, low cortisol and 24-h urinary free cortisol (UFC), and adrenal atrophy on computerized tomography scan during remission, suggesting a direct toxic effect on the adrenal glands. Cases 2 and 3 had normal to low ACTH levels and low-normal UFC, consistent with an effect at the level of the ectopic tumor. They did not have a history of cyclicity and case 3 has been in remission for ~5 years, making cyclic Cushing’s syndrome less likely. Case 4, with a history of cyclic hypercortisolism, had normal to slightly elevated ACTH levels and low-normal UFC during remission. The most likely etiology of remission is cyclic production of ACTH by the ectopic tumor. Spontaneous and sustained remission of hypercortisolemia is possible in EAS after long-term treatment with steroidogenesis inhibitors; a drug holiday may be warranted during chronic therapy to evaluate this. The pathophysiology remains unclear but may involve several different mechanisms.
The severity of Cushing’s Syndrome (CS) depends on the duration and extent of the exposure to excess glucocorticoids. Current measurements of cortisol in serum, saliva and urine reflect systemic cortisol levels at the time of sample collection, but cannot assess past cortisol levels. Hair cortisol levels may be increased in patients with CS, and, as hair grows about 1 cm/month, measurement of hair cortisol may provide historical information on the development of hypercortisolism. We attempted to measure cortisol in hair in relation to clinical course in six female patients with CS and in 32 healthy volunteers in 1 cm hair sections. Hair cortisol content was measured using a commercially available salivary cortisol immune assay with a protocol modified for use with hair. Hair cortisol levels were higher in patients with CS than in controls, the medians (ranges) were 679 (279–2500) and 116 (26–204) ng/g respectively (P <0.001). Segmental hair analysis provided information for up to 18 months before time of sampling. Hair cortisol concentrations appeared to vary in accordance with the clinical course. Based on these data, we suggest that hair cortisol measurement is a novel method for assessing dynamic systemic cortisol exposure and provides unique historical information on variation in cortisol, and that more research is required to fully understand the utility and limits of this technique.
glucocorticoids; pituitary adenoma; cancer; adrenal gland; hormones; cushing hair
Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is a grave disease that requires a multidisciplinary and individualized treatment approach for each patient. Approximately 80% of all patients harbour a corticotroph pituitary adenoma (Cushing’s disease) with excessive secretion of adrenocorticotropin-hormone (ACTH) and, consecutively, cortisol. The goals of treatment include normalization of hormone excess, long-term disease control and the reversal of comorbidities caused by the underlying pathology. The treatment of choice is neurosurgical tumour removal of the pituitary adenoma. Second-line treatments include medical therapy, bilateral adrenalectomy and radiation therapy. Drug treatment modalities target at the hypothalamic/pituitary level, the adrenal gland and at the glucocorticoid receptor level and are commonly used in patients in whom surgery has failed. Bilateral adrenalectomy is the second-line treatment for persistent hypercortisolism that offers immediate control of hypercortisolism. However, this treatment option requires a careful individualized evaluation, since it has the disadvantage of permanent hypoadrenalism which requires lifelong glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid replacement therapy and bears the risk of developing Nelson’s syndrome. Although there are some very promising medical therapy options it clearly remains a second-line treatment option. However, there are numerous circumstances where medical management of CD is indicated. Medical therapy is frequently used in cases with severe hypercortisolism before surgery in order to control the metabolic effects and help reduce the anestesiological risk. Additionally, it can help to bridge the time gap until radiotherapy takes effect. The aim of this review is to analyze and present current treatment options in Cushing’s disease.
Cushing’s disease; operative treatment; medical therapy; bilateral adrenalectomy; radiotherapy
Current guidelines recommend the use of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for suppression of airway inflammation in patients with asthma. Although it is well known that ICS cause dose-related adrenocortical suppression, it is less known that they can lead to iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome (CS). Fluticasone propionate (FP) is an ICS more potent than beclomethasone and budesonide. FP is metabolized as mediated by cytochrome P450 3A4 in the liver and the gut. Systemic bioactivity of FP can increase with the use of drugs that affect the cytochrome P450. Herein, we report the rapid development of iatrogenic CS in a patient receiving paroxetine and mirtazepine for 12 weeks in addition to inhaled FP.
Cushing’s syndrome; Fluticasone propionate; Mirtazepine; Paroxetine