Cyclic Cushing’s syndrome: a clinical challenge

  1. J R Meinardi1,2,
  2. B H R Wolffenbuttel2 and
  3. R P F Dullaart2

+Author Affiliations


  1. 1Department of Internal Medicine, Canisius Wilhelmina Ziekenhuis, PO Box 9015, 6500 GS Nijmegen, The Netherlands and 2Department of Endocrinology, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, PO Box 30001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands
  1. (Correspondence should be addressed to: R P F Dullaart; Email:r.p.f.dullaart@int.umcg.nl)

Abstract

Cyclic Cushing’s syndrome (CS) is a rare disorder, characterized by repeated episodes of cortisol excess interspersed by periods of normal cortisol secretion. The so-called cycles of hypercortisolism can occur regularly or irregularly with intercyclic phases ranging from days to years.

To formally diagnose cyclic CS, three peaks and two troughs of cortisol production should be demonstrated. Our review of 65 reported cases demonstrates that cyclic CS originates in 54% of cases from a pituitary corticotroph adenoma, in 26% from an ectopic ACTH-producing tumour and in about 11% from an adrenal tumour, the remainder being unclassified. The pathophysiology of cyclic CS is largely unknown.

The majority of patients with cyclic CS have clinical signs of CS, which can be either fluctuating or permanent. In a minority of patients, clinical signs of CS are absent. The fluctuating clinical picture and discrepant biochemical findings make cyclic CS extremely hard to diagnose. Clinicians should therefore be aware of this clinical entity and actively search for it in all patients with suspected CS but normal biochemistry or vice versa.

Frequent measurements of urinary cortisol or salivary cortisol levels are a reliable and convenient screening tool for suspected cyclic CS. Cortisol stimulation or suppression tests may give spurious results owing to spontaneous falls or rises in serum cortisol at the time of testing. When cyclic CS is biochemically confirmed, further imaging and laboratory studies are guided by the presence or absence of ACTH dependency. In cases of suspected ectopic ACTH production, specific biochemical testing for carcinoids or neuroendocrine tumours is required, including measurements of serotonin in platelets and/or urine, chromogranin A and calcitonin.

Read the entire article here:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/159503297/Cyclic-Cushing%E2%80%99s-syndrome-a-clinical-challenge

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