ENDO 2021 Roundup: COVID-19 Risk With Adrenal Insufficiency, Cushing’s Death Risk, Jatenzo Liver Data, and More

Some of the latest research advancements in the field of endocrinology presented at the Endocrine Society’s virtual ENDO 2021 meeting included quantifying diabetic ketoacidosis readmission rateshyperglycemia as a severe COVID-19 predictor, and semaglutide as a weight loss therapy. Below are a few more research highlights:

More Safety Data on Jatenzo

In a study of 81 men with hypogonadism — defined as a serum testosterone level below 300 ng/dL — oral testosterone replacement therapy (Jatenzo) was both safe and effective in a manufacturer-sponsored study.

After 24 months of oral therapy, testosterone concentration increased from an average baseline of 208.3 ng/dL to 470.1 ng/dL, with 84% of patients achieving a number in the eugonadal range.

And importantly, the treatment also demonstrated liver safety, as there were no significant changes in liver function tests throughout the 2-year study — including alanine aminotransferase (28.0 ± 12.3 to 26.6 ± 12.8 U/L), aspartate transaminase (21.8 ± 6.8 to 22.0 ± 8.2 U/L), and bilirubin levels (0.58 ± 0.22 to 0.52 ± 0.19 mg/dL).

Throughout the trial, only one participant had elevation of liver function tests.

“Our study finds testosterone undecanoate is an effective oral therapy for men with low testosterone levels and has a safety profile consistent with other approved testosterone products, without the drawbacks of non-oral modes of administration,” said lead study author Ronald Swerdloff, MD, of the Lundquist Research Institute in Torrance, California, in a statement.

In addition, for many men with hypogonadism, “an oral option is preferred to avoid issues associated with other modes of administration, such as injection site pain or transference to partners and children,” he said. “Before [testosterone undecanoate] was approved, the only orally approved testosterone supplemental therapy in the United States was methyltestosterone, which was known to be associated with significant chemical-driven liver damage.”

Oral testosterone undecanoate received FDA approval in March 2019 following a rocky review history.

COVID-19 Risk With Adrenal Insufficiency

Alarming new data suggested that children with adrenal insufficiency were more than 23 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than kids without this condition (relative risk 23.68, P<0.0001). This equated to 11 deaths out of 1,328 children with adrenal insufficiency compared with 215 deaths out of 609,788 children without this condition (0.828% vs 0.035%).

These young patients with adrenal insufficiency also saw a much higher rate of sepsis (RR 21.68, P<0.0001) and endotracheal intubation with COVID-19 infection (RR 25.45, P<0.00001).

Data for the analysis were drawn from the international TriNetX database, which included patient records of children ages 18 and younger diagnosed with COVID-19 from 60 healthcare organizations in 31 different countries.

“It’s really important that you take your hydrocortisone medications and start stress dosing as soon as you’re sick,” study author Manish Raisingani, MD, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s in Little Rock, explained during a press conference. “This will help prevent significant complications due to COVID-19 or any other infections. A lot of the complications that we see in kids with adrenal insufficiency are due to inadequate stress dosing of steroids.”

And with kids starting to return back to in-person schooling, “parents should also be reeducated about using the emergency injections of hydrocortisone,” Raisingani added. He noted that the COVID-19 complication rates were likely so high in this patient population because many had secondary adrenal insufficiency due to being on long-term, chronic steroids. Many also had comorbid respiratory illnesses, as well.

Cushing’s Death Risk

In a systematic review and meta-analysis of 87 studies — including data on 17,276 patients with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome — researchers found that these patients face a much higher death rate than those without this condition.

Overall, patients with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome faced a nearly three times higher mortality ratio (standardized mortality ratio 2.91, 95% CI 2.41-3.68, I2=40.3%), with those with Cushing’s disease found to have an even higher mortality risk (SMR 3.27, 95% CI 2.33-4.21, I2=55.6%).

And those with adrenal Cushing’s syndrome also saw an elevated death risk, although not as high as patients with the disease (SMR 1.62, 95% CI 0.08-3.16, I2=0.0%).

The most common causes of mortality among these patients included cardiac conditions (25%), infection (14%), and cerebrovascular disease (9%).

“The causes of death highlight the need for aggressive management of cardiovascular risk, prevention of thromboembolism, and good infection control, and emphasize the need to achieve disease remission, normalizing cortisol levels,” said lead study author Padiporn Limumpornpetch, MD, of the University of Leeds in England, in a statement.

From https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/endo/91808

Outcomes of endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery for Cushing’s disease

Abstract

Background

Transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) to resect an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary adenoma is the first-line treatment for Cushing’s disease (CD), with increasing usage of endoscopic transsphenoidal (ETSS) technique. The aim of this study was to assess remission rates and postoperative complications following ETSS for CD.

Methods

A retrospective analysis of a prospective single-surgeon database of consecutive patients with CD who underwent ETSS between January 2012–February 2020. Post-operative remission was defined, according to Endocrine Society Guidelines, as a morning serum cortisol < 138 nmol/L within 7 days of surgery, with improvement in clinical features of hypercortisolism. A strict cut-off of < 50 nmol/L at day 3 post-op was also applied, to allow early identification of remission.

Results

A single surgeon (MJ) performed 43 ETSS in 39 patients. Pre-operative MRI localised an adenoma in 22 (56%) patients; 18 microadenoma and 4 macroadenoma (2 with cavernous sinus invasion). IPSS was carried out in 33 (85%) patients. The remission rates for initial surgery were 87% using standard criteria, 58% using the strict criteria (day 3 cortisol < 50 nmol/L). Three patients had an early repeat ETSS for persistent disease (day 3 cortisol 306-555 nmol/L). When the outcome of repeat early ETSS was included, the remission rate was 92% (36/39) overall. Remission rate was 94% (33/35) when patients with macroadenomas were excluded. There were no cases of CSF leakage, meningitis, vascular injury or visual deterioration. Transient and permanent diabetes insipidus occurred in 33 and 23% following first ETSS, respectively. There was one case of recurrence of CD during the follow-up period of 24 (4–79) months.

Conclusion

Endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery produces satisfactory remission rates for the primary treatment of CD, with higher remission rates for microadenomas. A longer follow-up period is required to assess recurrence rates. Patients should be counselled regarding risk of postoperative diabetes insipidus.

Peer Review reports

Introduction

With an estimated annual incidence of 1.7 per million [1], Cushing’s disease is rare. Untreated, it poses serious complications including osteoporosis, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance, and hypercoagulability [2] and is associated with a 4.8 fold increase in mortality rate [3,4,5]. Patients who are in remission from CD have a mortality rate which decreases towards (although not reaching) that of the general population [6]. Endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery (ETSS) offers patients potential remission from Cushing’s disease, although long term surveillance is required as recurrence rates range from 5 to 22%% [7,8,9,10,11,12].

Since the first report in 1997 [13], the selective removal of an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary adenoma by endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery has gained popularity as the first line treatment for Cushing’s disease. The primary goal of ETSS treatment in Cushing’s disease is to produce disease remission and to provide long-term control, while minimising complications. Remission rates are dependent on tumour size, preoperative MRI, cavernous sinus invasion, intraoperative visualisation of the tumour and pre- and postoperative ACTH and cortisol concentration [11]. Several studies also report pituitary neurosurgeon experience as a major factor for operative success [21415].

Reported remission and recurrence rates after TSS for CD vary widely according to the criteria utilised to define remission [11], and in some studies due to limited patient numbers or short follow-up periods. Indeed, there is no clear consensus on how best to define post-operative remission; an early morning serum cortisol concentration < 138 nmol/L (5μg/dl) within 7 days of TSS is quoted in the 2015 Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline as indicative of remission [16]. A more strict day 3 cut-off of 50 nmol/L (1.8 μg/dl) has been reported in paediatric studies [17], and also included in the Endocrine Society Guideline [16]; the literature suggests this cut-off is associated with remission, and a low recurrence rate of approximately 10% at 10 years [14]. The main objective of this study was to assess the outcomes of endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery for Cushing’s disease in a tertiary pituitary centre; remission using two widely accepted criteria [16], recurrence and postoperative complications.

Methods

Study design

This is a retrospective analysis of a prospectively-maintained database of patients operated on by a single neurosurgeon (MJ), via image-guided endoscopic transsphenoidal approach for Cushing’s disease. Patient data was gathered over 8 years (January 2012 to February 2020) and identified from the institution’s prospective database. Clinical and biochemical data during the follow-up period was reviewed. Approval was granted by the Hospital Audit Committee.

Study population

Patients were screened for Cushing’s syndrome by the presence of typical clinical features, together with failure to adequately suppress cortisol to < 50 nmol/L following overnight dexamethasone suppression test (ONDST) and/or elevated late night salivary cortisol (LNSF) concentration and/or elevated 24 h urinary free cortisol measurements. As per standard guidelines, Cushing’s disease was diagnosed on the basis of elevated serum ACTH measurements, along with confirmatory hormone responses to peripheral corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) test and inferior petrosal sinus sampling (IPSS). Patients with previous TSS prior to the study period were excluded.

Surgical procedure

A single neurosurgeon subspecialising in endoscopic pituitary and anterior skull base surgery, M.J, carried out all ETSS surgical procedures. The surgical technique has been described in detail in publications by Cappabianca et al. (1998, 1999) and Jho et al. (1997, 2000, 2001) [1318,19,20,21]. In summary, the procedure consists of a binostril endoscopic transsphenoidal approach. A selective adenomectomy was performed on patients with adenomas noted on pre-operative MRI. In cases of negative pre-operative MRI, exploration of the pituitary gland was performed. To confirm the diagnosis of ACTH-secreting adenoma or hyperplasia, all specimens removed underwent histopathological and immunohistochemical staining for pituitary hormones.

Postoperative assessment

Patients received empiric oral hydrocortisone on day 1 and on the morning of day 2 post-operatively, prior to assessment of 0800 h serum cortisol on day 3. A blood sample for serum cortisol was drawn at 0800 h on the morning of day 3, if clinically stable, prior to administration of hydrocortisone. The Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline define post-operative biochemical remission as morning serum cortisol < 138 nmol/L (5μg/dl) within 7 days postoperatively [16], ‘standard criteria’. In our institution, we also apply a biochemical cut-off of < 50 nmol/L (1.8 μg/dl) at day 3 postoperatively to allow early indication of biochemical remission, ‘strict criteria’. If serum cortisol on day 3 is 50–138 nmol/L, serial measurements are taken daily to determine if cortisol will fall further, and assessment for improvement/resolution of clinical sequalae of hypercortisolaemia made (such as improvement in blood pressure or glycaemic control), before repeat endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery is considered.

Transient cranial diabetes insipidus (DI) was defined as the development of hypotonic polyuria postoperatively requiring at least one dose of desmopressin [22], which resolved prior to discharge. Permanent DI was confirmed by water deprivation test according to standard criteria [23]. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) deficiency was defined by low fT4 with either low or inappropriately normal TSH. Growth hormone (GH) deficiency was confirmed using either Insulin Tolerance Test or Glucagon Stimulation Test [24]. Gonadotrophin deficiency was defined in premenopausal women as amenorrhoea with inappropriately low FSH and LH concentration, and in postmenopausal patients as inappropriately low FSH and LH concentration.

Recovery of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis was assessed by short synacthen (250 μg) test or insulin tolerance test 3 months post-operatively, and every 3–6 months thereafter in cases of initial fail or borderline result. Patients were assessed annually for recurrence of Cushing’s disease, recurrence was defined by failure to suppress cortisol to < 50 nmol/L following an 1 mg overnight dexamethasone suppression test, an elevated late night salivary cortisol (LNSF) or urinary free cortisol (UFC) in patients no longer taking hydrocortisone.

Laboratory analysis

Prior to 2019, serum cortisol was measured using a chemiluminescent immunoassay with the Beckman Coulter UniCel Dxl 800. Intra-assay CV for serum cortisol was 8.3, 5 and 4.6% at concentrations of 76, 438 and 865 nmol/L, respectively. From January 2019 onwards, serum cortisol was measured using Elecsys® Cortisol II assay on the Roche Cobas e801; intra-assay precision for serum cortisol was 1.2, 1.1 and 1.6% at concentrations of 31.8, 273 and 788 nmol/L, respectively.

Statistics

Data are expressed as median (range) and number (%). The Fishers Exact test was used to compare categorical variables between groups. All p-values were considered statistically significant at a level < 0.05. Statistical analysis was performed using GraphPad Prism 8 statistical software (GraphPad Software, La Jolla, California, USA).

Results

Demographics

Forty-three endoscopic transsphenoidal procedures were performed in 39 patients. Demographics are summarised in Table 1. Median (range) age was 37 years (8–75), 30 were female. Median (range) duration of symptoms was 24 months (6–144), 72% (28/39) had hypertension, and 28% (11/39) had type 2 diabetes.

Table 1 Summary of demographics and post-operative outcomes

Preoperative imaging and IPSS

Pre-operative MRI localised an adenoma in 22 (56%) patients; 18 microadenoma and 4 macroadenoma (2 with cavernous sinus invasion). No adenoma was identified in 17 patients (44%). IPSS was carried out in 33 (85%) patients.

Postoperative remission

Post-operative outcomes are summarised in Table 1 and Fig. 1. Using standard criteria (0800 h serum cortisol < 138 nmol/l within 7 days of operation and improvement in clinical features of hypercortisolism), postoperative remission rates for initial surgery were 87% (34/39) for the entire group and 89% (31/35) when patients with macroadenomas were excluded, Fig. 1. Three patients had an early repeat ETSS for persistent disease; day 3 serum cortisol ranged from 306 to 555 nmol/L and interval to repeat ETSS from 10 days–3 months. When the outcome of early repeat ETSS was factored in, overall remission rate was 92% (36/39) overall, and 94% (33/35) when patients with macroadenomas were excluded.

Fig. 1
figure1

Schema of patients who underwent ETSS. *Day 3 cortisol was not measured in one patient due to intercurrent illness requiring treatment with intravenous glucocorticoids

Using strict criteria of early remission (day 3 serum cortisol concentration < 50 nmol/L), postoperative remission rates were 58% (22/38) overall, and 62% (21/34) excluding macroadenomas. Including the three patients with early repeat ETSS, remission rate was 61% (23/38) overall, and 65% excluding macroadenomas (22/34). Day 3 cortisol was not measured in one patient due to intercurrent illness requiring treatment with intravenous glucocorticoids.

Eleven patients (28%) had a cortisol measurement between 50 and 138 nmol/L on day 3, seven of whom had received metyrapone therapy prior to ETSS. Six patients had serial measurements of 0800 h cortisol up to a maximum follow-up of 14 days post-op, serum cortisol concentration fell after day 3 in all six patients. Ten (91%) were glucocorticoid-dependent at 3 months based on synacthen/ITT; 0800 h cortisol had fallen to < 50 nmol/L in six patients.

Predictors of remission

No statistical difference was found in the rates of remission in those patients with or without tumour target on preoperative MRI, using either strict criteria for remission (12/21 target vs 10/17 no target, p > 0.99) or standard criteria (19/22 target vs 15/17 no target, p > 0.99). Similar results were found when the four patients with macroadenoma were excluded.

Persistent disease

Five patients (13%) had persistent hypercortisolaemia after the initial endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery (Table 2). Three patients underwent a repeat early endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery, Fig. 1. Remission rate after repeat early ETSS was 67% (2/3) using standard criteria, and 33% (1/3), using the strict criteria. Of the patients with persistent disease following repeat ETSS, one received radiosurgery, while the other has been commenced on medical therapy, with a view to refer for radiotherapy.

Table 2 Outcome of five patients with persistent hypercortisolaemia after initial ETSS

Postoperative complications

The rate of transient diabetes insipidus after first ETSS was 33% (13/39), while permanent diabetes insipidus occurred in 23% (9/39). Postoperatively, there were five cases of new thyroid stimulating hormone deficiency (13%) and four cases of gonadotrophin deficiency (10%) (in pre-menopausal females). There were no cases of postoperative CSF leak, no cases of meningitis and no visual complications. There were no other complications.

Recurrence

No patients were lost to follow-up. Over a median (range) duration of follow-up of 24 (4–79) months, one patient had recurrence of Cushing’s disease. Pre-operative MRI had shown a macroadenoma; serum cortisol on day 3 after the initial ETSS was 71 nmol/L, which fulfilled standard criteria for remission, but not the more strict criteria. The patient underwent a second ETSS 13 months later. No tumour was visible intra-operatively so no tissue was removed, day 3 serum cortisol concentration was 308 nmol/L and the patient was commenced on a trial of metyrapone.

Recovery of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis

Recovery of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis occurred in nine patients (27%), at median 13 (3–27) months post-operatively. There was no statistical difference in rates of recovery of HPA axis in patients with day 3 cortisol < 50 nmol/l, and those who only passed standard criteria for remission (< 138 nmol/l) [7/20 (follow-up 25 (3–59) months) versus 2/11 (follow-up 16 (3–79) months) respectively, p = 0.43]. One patient died 5 weeks post-operatively; post-mortem revealed bilateral haemorrhagic adrenal necrosis.

Discussion

Reported remission rates following ETSS in patients with Cushing’s disease (CD) vary widely, predominantly due to differences in criteria used to define remission [11]. There is no uniform consensus on the criteria used to define ‘remission’, with institutions using a combination of biochemical and clinical criteria; this makes comparing surgical outcome studies challenging. The normal corticotroph cells of the pituitary gland are suppressed due to sustained hypercortisolaemia, therefore following successful removal of the ACTH-secreting adenoma, serum ACTH and cortisol concentrations should fall postoperatively. A morning serum cortisol concentration < 138 nmol/L (5 μg/dl) within 7 days of ETSS is usually indicative of remission, and this biochemical cut-off is quoted in the Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline [16], and many surgical outcome studies [81125]. Other studies have applied a more strict serum cortisol cut-off of < 50 nmol/L (1.8 μg/L) at day 3 postoperatively to allow early indication of biochemical remission [101126,27,28]; the literature suggests this cutoff is associated with remission, and a low recurrence rate of approximately 10% at 10 years [14]. Our practice is to apply this latter approach; if serum cortisol on day 3 is 50–138 nmol/L, serial measurements are taken daily to determine if cortisol will fall further, and assessment for improvement/resolution of clinical signs of hypercortisolaemia made, before repeat endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery is considered. It is important to ensure that serum cortisol has reached a nadir, before further intervention is considered.

In this single-centre single-surgeon study, we report two very different remission rates using these two widely accepted criteria. Our remission rate, including those patients who had an early second ETSS, using standard guidelines, is 92%, on par with other larger studies [78112529]. When patients with corticotroph macroadenomas were excluded, the remission rate was even higher at 94%. In comparison, when we applied the more strict criteria of day 3 cortisol < 50 nmol/L, the remission rate was considerably lower at 61%. This criteria is in place in our institution so that we can safely identify patients who have early signs of remission to facilitate discharge on day 3 post-operatively; however reporting these rates in isolation lead to a misleadingly low remission rate compared to the more lenient criteria proposed by the Endocrine Society [16].

Evidence has suggested that higher day 3 cortisol concentration is associated with greater risk of recurrence of CD. A recent retrospective cohort analysis of 81 ETSS for CD by Mayberg et al. reported significantly higher recurrence rates in patients with post-operative cortisol nadir between 58 and 149 nmol/L (2.1–5.4 μg/dL) compared with those with cortisol < 55 nmol/L (2 μg/dL) (33% vs 6%, p = 0.01) [30]. Recurrence of CD was low in our series at 3%, and occurred in a patient with a corticotroph macroadenoma, which have been shown to be associated with higher rates of recurrence [31]. On post-operative assessment, serum cortisol fell between the two criteria for remission and if remission was strictly defined as a day 3 cortisol < 50 nmol/L, then this patient had in fact persistent hypercortisolaemia. This case highlights the difficulty when comparing studies reporting ETSS outcomes in CD – the distinction between persistent post-operative hypercortisolism and early recurrence of CD is not always clear-cut, and is dictated by the local protocol.

Whilst our recurrence data are encouraging in comparison to other reports on CD recurrence, which published rates of up to 22% [11], longer term follow-up is necessary before recurrence rates can be accurately defined. The criteria used to define long term recurrence of CD also varies widely in the literature; a large systematic review (n = 6400) by Petersenn et al. (2015) reported decreased recurrence rates when studies used UFC with ONDST vs. UFC only, and UFC with morning serum cortisol vs. UFC only [11]. This highlights the requirement for standardization of remission and recurrence criteria, for consistency in clinical practice and in the literature.

The post-operative surgical complication rate in our series was very low, with no cases of CSF leak, vascular injury or visual compromise. Other published case series have reported incidence rates for CSF leakage and meningitis of 0–7.2% and 0–7.9% [2123233] respectively. Postoperative meningitis is strongly associated with CSF leakage [34]. Some studies suggest that the endoscopic approach results in higher rates of carotid artery injury compared with the microscopic approach, which could be attributed to the nature of the extended lateral approach [35]. However, in this series of 43 ETSS, we report no cases of surgical related carotid artery injury, similar to other studies reporting 0% serious morbidity or mortality due to carotid artery injury [3336]. Finally, postoperative visual disturbance is a major concern, as it can be life changing for patients. Factors linked with visual complications include tumour size, patient age and any pre-existing visual conditions [37,38,39]. Visual deterioration after TSS for Cushing’s disease has been reported to occur in some large case series at rates of 1.9% [32] and 0.86% [12]. There were no cases of postoperative visual disturbance in our series.

While the surgical complication rate was low, our endocrine complication rate was higher than that reported in other studies, particularly the rate of DI. Transient DI occurred in 33% of cases, and permanent DI in 23%. These relatively high rates of transient DI may be due to the diagnostic criteria used in our protocol; we defined transient post-operative DI as one episode of hypotonic polyuria in the setting of normal or elevated plasma sodium concentration, requiring at least one dose of desmopressin. In contrast, some studies discount any polyuria which lasts less than 2 days [10], while others require the documentation of hypernatremia for the diagnosis of DI [40]. These more stringent criteria will not capture cases of mild transient DI; therefore it is not surprising that the rates of transient DI reported in a 2018 meta-analysis were lower than that in our study, 11.3% [29]. The rates of permanent DI in our study merits particular attention. TSS for CD has been shown to be associated with a higher risk of post-operative DI [4142]. It may be that a more aggressive surgical approach resulted in high remission rates, but at a cost of higher rates of DI. All patients are reviewed post-operatively in the National Pituitary Centre, where there is a low threshold for water deprivation testing and/or 3% saline testing. We did not routinely re-test patients for resolution of DI after their initial water deprivation test at 3 months, and it is possible that some cases subsequently resolved after 3 months [4143]. Regardless, the rate reported in this study is significant, and emphasises the importance of counselling the patient about the risk of DI long-term.

Strengths and limitations

The reporting of two remission rates based on widely accepted criteria is a strength of this study, and allows for direct comparison of our outcomes with other studies. All ETSS were performed by a single pituitary surgeon; while this removes bias from surgeon experience, the disadvantage of this is that the sample size is relatively low. Furthermore, because we included patients who were recently operated on to maximise numbers for analysis of surgical complications, the follow-up period is relatively short. A longer follow-up is required to comment accurately on recurrence of CD. We did not have full ascertainment of longitudinal post-operative data including dexamethasone suppression tests, and this has highlighted the need for protocolised follow-up to allow for consistency when reporting our results.

Conclusion

Endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery in patients with Cushing’s disease offers excellent remission rates and low morbidity. Remission rates are much higher when standard criteria [morning serum cortisol < 138 nmol/L (5μg/dl) within 7 days postoperatively] are used compared with day 3 cortisol < 50 nmol/l. Higher remission rates were found for patients with microadenomas. Patients should be counselled regarding risk of post-operative endocrine deficiencies, in particular permanent diabetes insipidus. Longer follow-up is required to accurately assess recurrence rates.

Availability of data and materials

The data that support the findings of this study are not publicly available due to restrictions by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Abbreviations

TSS:
Transsphenoidal surgery
ACTH:
Adrenocorticotropic hormone
CD:
Cushing’s disease
ETSS:
Endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery
ONDST:
Overnight dexamethasone suppression test
LNSF:
Late night salivary cortisol
CRH:
Corticotropin releasing hormone
IPSS:
Inferior petrosal sinus sampling
DI:
Diabetes insipidus
TSH:
Thyroid stimulating hormone
GH:
Growth hormone
UFC:
Urinary free cortisol

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Mortality rate in Cushing’s syndrome ‘unacceptably high’

A large study of mortality in Cushing’s syndrome calculated a threefold higher mortality rate for these patients, with cerebrovascular and atherosclerotic vascular diseases and infection accounting for 50% of deaths, researchers reported.

“[We have seen] improvement in outcome since 2000, but mortality is still unacceptably high,” Padiporn Limumpornpetch, MD, an endocrinologist at Prince of Songkla University in Thailand and PhD student at the University of Leeds, U.K., told Healio during the ENDO annual meeting. “The mortality outcome has shown an unacceptable standardized mortality rate of 3:1, with poorer outcomes in patients with adrenal Cushing’s [and] active and larger tumors in Cushing’s disease.”

Atherosclerotic vascular disease was the top cause of death in Cushing’s disease, with infection coming in as the second-highest cause of death. Data were derived from Limumpornpetch P. OR04-4. Presented at: ENDO annual meeting; March 20-23, 2021 (virtual meeting).

For a meta-analysis and meta-regression analysis of cause of death among patients with benign endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, Limumpornpetch and colleagues reviewed data published from 1952 to January 2021 from 92 study cohorts with 19,181 patients that reported mortality rates, including 66 studies that reported causes of death.

The researchers calculated the standardized mortality rate (SMR) for Cushing’s syndrome at 3 (95% CI, 2.3-3.9). For patients with adrenal Cushing’s syndrome, SMR was 3.3 (95% CI, 0.5-6.6) — higher than for those with Cushing’s disease, with an SMR of 2.8 (95% CI, 2.1-3.7). Rates were similar by sex and by type of adrenal tumor.

Deaths occurring within 30 days of surgery for Cushing’s syndrome fell to 3% after 2000 from 10% before that date (P < .005). During the entire study period, atherosclerotic vascular disease accounted for 27.4% of deaths in Cushing’s syndrome, and 12.7% were attributable to infection, 11.7% to cerebrovascular diseases, 10.6% to malignancy, 4.4% to thromboembolism, 2.9% to active disease, 3% to adrenal insufficiency and 2.2% to suicide.

“We look forward to the day when our interdisciplinary approach to managing these challenging patients can deliver outcomes similar to the background population,” Limumpornpetch said.

From https://www.healio.com/news/endocrinology/20210322/mortality-rate-in-cushings-syndrome-unacceptably-high

Severe COVID-19 risks greatly increased for children with adrenal insufficiency

Adrenal insufficiency increases the risk for severe outcomes, including death, 23-fold for children who contract COVID-19, according to a data analysis presented at the ENDO annual meeting.

“Adrenal insufficiency in pediatrics does increase risk of complications with COVID-19 infections,” Manish Gope Raisingani, MD, assistant professor in the department of pediatrics in the division of pediatric endocrinology at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, told Healio. “The relative risk of complications is over 20 for sepsis, intubation and mortality, which is very significant.”

Adrenal transparent _Adobe
Source: Adobe Stock

Using the TriNetX tool and information on COVID-19 from 54 health care organizations, Raisingani and colleagues analyzed data from children (aged 0-18 years) with COVID-19; 846 had adrenal insufficiency and 252,211 did not. The mortality rate among children with adrenal insufficiency was 2.25% compared with 0.097% for those without, for a relative risk for death of 23.2 (P < .0001) for children with adrenal insufficiency and COVID-19. RRs for these children were 21.68 for endotracheal intubation and 25.45 for sepsis.

“Children with adrenal insufficiency should be very careful during the pandemic,” Raisingani said. “They should take their steroid medication properly. They should also be appropriately trained on stress steroids for infection, other significant events.”

From https://www.healio.com/news/endocrinology/20210321/severe-covid19-risks-greatly-increased-for-children-with-adrenal-insufficiency

Largest-ever analysis of its kind finds Cushing’s syndrome triples risk of death

WASHINGTON–Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, a rare hormonal disorder, is associated with a threefold increase in death, primarily due to cardiovascular disease and infection, according to a study whose results will be presented at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.

The research, according to the study authors, is the largest systematic review and meta-analysis to date of studies of endogenous (meaning “inside your body”) Cushing’s syndrome. Whereas Cushing’s syndrome most often results from external factors–taking cortisol-like medications such as prednisone–the endogenous type occurs when the body overproduces the hormone cortisol, affecting multiple bodily systems.

Accurate data on the mortality and specific causes of death in people with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome are lacking, said the study’s lead author, Padiporn Limumpornpetch, M.D., an endocrinologist from Prince of Songkla University, Thailand and Ph.D. student at the University of Leeds in Leeds, U.K. The study analyzed death data from more than 19,000 patients in 92 studies published through January 2021.

“Our results found that death rates have fallen since 2000 but are still unacceptably high,” Limumpornpetch said.

Cushing’s syndrome affects many parts of the body because cortisol responds to stress, maintains blood pressure and cardiovascular function, regulates blood sugar and keeps the immune system in check. The most common cause of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is a tumor of the pituitary gland called Cushing’s disease, but another cause is a usually benign tumor of the adrenal glands called adrenal Cushing’s syndrome. All patients in this study had noncancerous tumors, according to Limumpornpetch.

Overall, the proportion of death from all study cohorts was 5 percent, the researchers reported. The standardized mortality ratio–the ratio of observed deaths in the study group to expected deaths in the general population matched by age and sex–was 3:1, indicating a threefold increase in deaths, she stated.

This mortality ratio was reportedly higher in patients with adrenal Cushing’s syndrome versus Cushing’s disease and in patients who had active disease versus those in remission. The standardized mortality ratio also was worse in patients with Cushing’s disease with larger tumors versus very small tumors (macroadenomas versus microadenomas).

On the positive side, mortality rates were lower after 2000 versus before then, which Limumpornpetch attributed to advances in diagnosis, operative techniques and medico-surgical care.

More than half of observed deaths were due to heart disease (24.7 percent), infections (14.4 percent), cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke or aneurysm (9.4 percent) or blood clots in a vein, known as thromboembolism (4.2 percent).

“The causes of death highlight the need for aggressive management of cardiovascular risk, prevention of thromboembolism and good infection control and emphasize the need to achieve disease remission, normalizing cortisol levels,” she said.

Surgery is the mainstay of initial treatment of Cushing’s syndrome. If an operation to remove the tumor fails to put the disease in remission, other treatments are available, such as medications.

Study co-author Victoria Nyaga, Ph.D., of the Belgian Cancer Centre in Brussels, Belgium, developed the Metapreg statistical analysis program used in this study.

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Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at http://www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.

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From https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/tes-lao031621.php

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