Novel Predictive Model for Adrenal Insufficiency in Dermatological Patients with Topical Corticosteroids Use: A Cross-Sectional Study

Purpose: This study aimed to identify predictive factors and to develop a predictive model for adrenal insufficiency (AI) related to topical corticosteroids use.
Methods: The research was conducted using a cross-sectional design. Adult patients with dermatological conditions who had been prescribed topical steroids for at least 12 months by the dermatology outpatient departments of the Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University from June through October 2020 were included. Data on potential predictors, including baseline characteristics and laboratory investigations, were collected. The diagnoses of AI were based on serum 8AM cortisol and low-dose ACTH stimulation tests. Multivariable logistic regression was used for the derivation of the diagnostic score.
Results: Of the 42 patients, 17 (40.5%) had AI. The statistically significant predictive factors for AI were greater body surface area of corticosteroids use, age < 60 years, and basal serum cortisol < 7 μg/dL. In the final predictive model, duration of treatment was added as a factor based on its clinical significance for AI. The four predictive factors with their assigned scores were: body surface area involvement 10– 30% (20), > 30% (25); age < 60 years old (15); basal serum cortisol of < 7 μg/dL (30); and duration of treatment in years. Risk of AI was categorized into three groups, low, intermediate and high risk, with total scores of < 25, 25– 49 and ≥ 50, respectively. The predictive performance for the model was 0.92 based on area under the curve.
Conclusion: The predictive model for AI in patients using topical corticosteroids provides guidance on the risk of AI to determine which patients should have dynamic ACTH stimulation tests (high risk) and which need only close follow-up (intermediate and low risk). Future validation of the model is warranted.

Keywords: adrenal insufficiency, topical corticosteroids, predictive model, skin diseases

Introduction

Topical corticosteroids are frequently used for inflammatory skin diseases owing to their anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects. Common indications for use include diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, atopic dermatitis, and vitiligo.1 In clinical practice, a variety of delivery vehicles and potencies of topical corticosteroids are used.1 Prolonged and/or inappropriate use of topical corticosteroids can lead to adverse side effects.2 These adverse side effects can be categorized as cutaneous and systemic side effects. The most common cutaneous side effect is skin atrophy. Systemic side effects include hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis suppression, glaucoma, hyperglycemia and hypertension.3

One of the most worrisome adverse side effects from the use of topical corticosteroids is adrenal insufficiency (AI) resulting from HPA axis suppression. Topically applied corticosteroids can be absorbed systemically through the skin and can suppress the HPA axis.4–8 This adverse outcome, the inability to increase cortisol production after stress, can lead to adrenal crisis, which is potentially life-threatening. Tests that are normally used to diagnose or exclude AI include serum morning cortisol and the dynamic ACTH stimulation test.9

Secondary AI from percutaneous absorption of topical corticosteroids is less common than with parenteral or oral administration. The cumulative doses and the durations of oral corticosteroid therapy associated with HPA axis suppression have been well documented.10 Data regarding the dose and duration of oral corticosteroids and HPA axis suppression have similarly been well established. A study by Curtis et al reported that the use of oral prednisolone >7.5 mg/day for an extended period (>3 weeks) was linked to this adverse event, and that the incidence increased with duration.10 However, corresponding data for topical corticosteroids has been limited. The degree of risk of HPA axis suppression from topical corticosteroids use is associated with the level of percutaneous absorption which, in turn, depends on numerous factors including the age of the patient (younger patients are more susceptible), body surface area treated, quantity of topical corticosteroids used, potency of the drug, duration of therapy, body region of application, the associated compounds used, eg, urea or salicylic acid, the characteristics of the diseased skin, the degree of impairment of skin integrity, and the coexistence of hepatic and/or renal disease.11–13 One study reported that HPA axis suppression occurs when high potency steroids are administered at a cumulative dose per week of >50 g.2

Presently, there is a lack of data on predictive factors for AI and no predicative model of the relationship between secondary AI resulting from HPA axis suppression and topical corticosteroids use. A simple predictive model which could help preclude and predict the risk of AI which incorporates both demographic and biochemical data could potentially reduce the number of dynamic ACTH stimulation tests performed. This study aimed to identify potential predictive factors and to design an easy-to-use model for predicting the risk of AI following topical corticosteroids use in dermatological patients.

Materials and Methods

This cross-sectional study was conducted with 42 patients who were seen at the dermatology outpatient departments at the Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University Hospital over a 5-month period (June – October 2020). The study protocol was approved by the Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Ethical Committee (Ethical number: MED-2563-07037). Recruited participants were adult dermatological patients (≥18 years) who had used topical corticosteroids for at least 12 months. Patients with pituitary or adrenal diseases, pregnant women and patients who had been treated with either systemic corticosteroids or other local corticosteroids were excluded. Those who meet all the inclusion criteria gave their informed consent prior to the study. This study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Adrenal Function Evaluation

Adrenal function was evaluated by serum morning (8 AM) cortisol and the low-dose ACTH stimulation test. Patients were instructed to suspend use of topical corticosteroids for at least 24 hours before serum morning cortisol measurement and ACTH stimulation tests. In those with serum morning cortisol between 3 and 17.9 µg/dL, ACTH stimulation tests were performed on the same day between 9–11AM to either exclude or diagnose AI. Serum cortisol concentrations were measured at 8 AM 0 (basal cortisol) as well as 20 and 40 minutes after 5 µg ACTH was administered intravenously.

Data Collection

Epidemiological data collected included gender, age, blood pressure, underlying dermatologic diseases, other underlying diseases, body surface area involvement, sensitive area involvement, topical corticosteroid potency, amount and duration of topical corticosteroids use, symptoms of AI and the presence of Cushingoid features. Biochemical data included serum cortisol at 8 AM, 0 (basal cortisol) and at 20 and 40 minutes after ACTH intravenous injection, serum creatinine, electrolytes and albumin. Serum cortisol levels were measured by electrochemiluminescence assay (ECLIA) (Elecsys® Cortisol II assay, Roche Diagnostics GmbH, Mannheim, Germany).

Definitions

An 8AM cortisol level of ❤ µg/dL or a peak serum cortisol level of <18 µg/dL at 20 or 40 minutes after an ACTH stimulation test was defined as having AI.14 Sensitive area involvement included the axilla, groin, face and genitalia. Topical corticosteroids are classified by potency based on a skin vasoconstriction assay, and range from ultra-high potency (class I) to low potency (class VII).15 Since some patients had concurrently used more than one class of corticosteroids in one treatment period, the new variable potency·dose·time (summary of corticosteroids potency (I–VII)16 multiplied by total doses (mg) of corticosteroids use and multiplied by duration (months) of corticosteroids use) was created. Symptoms of AI included lethargy, nausea and vomiting, orthostatic hypotension and significant weight loss. Significant weight loss was defined as a loss of 5% of body weight in one month or a loss of 10% over a period of six months.17 Having Cushingoid features was defined as at least one of the excess glucocorticoid features, eg, easy bruising, facial plethora, proximal myopathy, striae, dorsocervical fat pad, facial fullness, obesity, supraclavicular fullness, hirsutism, decreased libido and menstrual abnormalities.

Statistical Analysis

All statistical analyses were performed using Stata 16 (StataCorp, College Station, Texas, USA). Categorical variables are reported as frequency and percentage, while continuous variables are reported as mean ± standard deviation or median and interquartile range (IQR), according to their distribution. For univariable comparison, Fisher’s exact probability test was used for categorical variables, and the independent t-test or the Mann–Whitney U-test was used for continuous variables. p-values less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant.

Multivariable logistic regression was used in the derivation of the prediction model for AI. Predictors with significant p-values in the univariable analysis were included in the multivariable model. We also included age and treatment duration in the model due to the clinical significance of those factors.4,18 The clinical collinearity among the predictors was also evaluated before the selection of the predictors. We generated a weighted score for each predictor by dividing the logit coefficient of the predictor by the lowest coefficient in the model. The discriminative ability of the final multivariable model was assessed using the area under the receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve. The calibration of the scores was evaluated using the Hosmer-Lemeshow goodness-of-fit test, where a p-value >0.01 was considered a good fit. For clinical applicability, the appropriate cut-off points for the scores were identified based on sensitivity and specificity. We identified one cut-off point with high sensitivity for ruling out AI and another cut-off point with high specificity for ruling in AI. The positive predictive value for each score category with its corresponding confidence interval were presented. A sample size of at least 25 patients with at least 5 patients with AI was estimated to give 80% power at the 5% significance level.4 There was no missing data in this study.

Results

Baseline characteristics and biochemical investigations are shown in Table 1. Forty-two patients with dermatological diseases were included in this study. Of these, 17 patients (40.5%) had AI of whom 5 (29.4%) were female. The mean age of the group was 56.5 ±15.4 years, the mean duration of treatment was 10.1 ± 6 years, and the majority of patients had psoriasis (n = 14, 82.4%). There was no significant difference in sex, age, duration of treatment, potency dose-time, comorbidities, or underlying skin disease between the AI and non-AI groups. The average body surface area of corticosteroids use was significantly higher in patients with AI than in the non-AI group (27.5 ±18.7 m2 and 10.7 ±11.7 m2, p < 0.001, respectively). Basal serum cortisol levels were significantly lower in the AI group (6.52 ± 4.04 µg/dL) than in the non-AI group (10.48 ± 3.45 µg/dL, p 0.003). Although lower serum morning cortisol levels were observed in the AI group, the difference was not statistically significant (5.24 ± 4.65 µg/dL vs 13.39 ± 15.68 µg/dL, p = 0.069). Three patients were identified as having Cushingoid features. All patients with Cushingoid features had AI.

Table 1 Comparison of Clinical Characteristics Between Patients with a History of Topical Corticosteroids Use for at Least 12 Months Who Were Diagnosed with Adrenal Insufficiency and Those without Adrenal Insufficiency (n = 42)

 

Based on the multivariate logistic regression analysis (shown in Table 2), the significant predictive factors for AI in patients who used topical corticosteroids for more than 12 months were body surface area of corticosteroids use of 10–30% and >30% (POR 18.9, p =0.042, and POR 59.2, p = 0.035, respectively), age less than 60 years (POR 13.8, p = 0.04), and basal serum cortisol of <7 µg/dL (POR 131.5, p = 0.003). Only serum basal cortisol was included in the final multivariable model as there was clinical collinearity among serum morning cortisol and basal cortisol as well as 20- and 40-minute cortisol measurements.

Table 2 Multivariable Model for Prediction of Adrenal Insufficiency in Patients with a History of Topical Corticosteroids Use for at Least 12 Months (n = 38)

 

Predictive risk score was created to determine the probability of patients having AI using the aforementioned three significant predictive factors from the multivariable analysis (Table 2). As previous studies have demonstrated that duration of treatment is a strong predictive factor for AI in corticosteroid users,4,18 this factor was also incorporated in the model. The transformed score for body surface area, age and basal serum cortisol had a range of 0 to 30. For treatment duration, the transformed score was based on cumulative years of treatment. The total score was categorized into three groups: low, intermediate, and high risk (Table 3).

Table 3 Accuracy of the Score to Rule in and Rule Out Adrenal Insufficiency in Patients with a History of Topical Corticosteroids Use for at Least 12 Months (n = 38)

 

The cut-off point of ≥50 suggests high risk for developing AI with a sensitivity of 46.2% and a specificity of 100%, a score of <25 suggests a low risk with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 52%, and a score between 25 and 49 indicates an intermediate risk of having AI. The ROC curve for the model assessing predictive performance which included all significant factors had an AuROC of 0.92 (Figure 1). The Hosmer-Lemeshow goodness-of-fit test revealed non-statistically significant results (p = 0.599), indicating that our newly derived scoring system fits the data well.

Figure 1 Model discrimination via receiver operating characteristic curve in patients with a history of topical corticosteroids use for at least 12 months (n = 42).

 

Discussion

The present study proposes an easy-to-use predictive model for AI following topical corticosteroids use in dermatological patients based on demographic and biochemical factors. The accuracy of the model shows an excellent diagnostic accuracy of 92% based on AuROC. Currently, the diagnosis of AI in dermatological patients with topical corticosteroids use involves multiple steps including screening for serum morning cortisol followed by dynamic ACTH stimulation testing. The proposed simple predictive model, which requires only three demographic data items (age, body surface area of corticosteroids use, duration of use) and one biochemical test (serum basal cortisol), could potentially reduce the number of dynamic ACTH stimulation tests performed, resulting in cost- and time-saving for both patients and health-care facilities.

Based on the proposed cut-off points, we suggest screening of individuals at high risk for having AI, including serum morning cortisol and the ACTH stimulation tests to confirm a diagnosis of AI. If there is evidence of AI, the patient should begin to receive treatment for AI to reduce future complications. For those in the low-risk group, only clinical follow-up should be carried out. In the intermediate-risk group, we recommend regular and close biochemical follow-up including serum morning cortisol and clinical follow-up for signs and symptoms of AI. Signs and symptoms that should raise a high index of suspicion for AI include significant weight loss, nausea and/or vomiting, orthostatic hypotension and lethargy. However, this proposed predictive model was studied in adults and cannot simply be generalized and extrapolated to children or infants.

In our study, 40.5% of the patients were determined to have AI. A previous meta-analysis by Broersen et al reported the percentage of patients with AI secondary to all potencies of topical corticosteroids based on a review of 15 studies was 4.7%, 95% CI (1.1–18.5%).19 The higher prevalence of AI in our study could be a result of differences in patients’ baseline characteristics, eg, duration of treatment, corticosteroids potency and body surface area involvement.

In the predictive model, we incorporated both clinical and biochemical factors which are easy to obtain in actual clinical practice. Some of those predictive factors have been previously reported to be linked to AI. Body surface area of corticosteroids use larger than 10% found to be significantly related to AI, especially in patients with a lesion area of over 30%. This finding is consistent with a study by Kerner et al which suggests the extent of surface area to which the corticosteroids are applied may influence absorption of the drug.20 Regarding the age of the patients, our study found that individuals over 60 years old tended to be at high risk of AI following topical corticosteroids therapy. The underlying explanation is that the stratum corneum acts as a rate-limiting barrier to percutaneous absorption as the stratum corneum in younger individuals is thinner than in older people. Diminished effectiveness of topical corticosteroid treatment in older people was demonstrated in a study by Malzfeldt et al.21 Even though serum basal cortisol is not recommended as a standard test to diagnose AI, a prior study reported that it can be considered as an alternative choice to diagnose AI when serum morning cortisol results are not available. In fact, it has been reported that there is no difference in diagnostic accuracy between serum morning cortisol and basal cortisol22 which supports our finding that serum basal cortisol <7 µg/dL is one of the significant factors related to AI.

The final model found no statistically significant relationship between the incidence of AI and the duration of corticosteroids treatment. However, we decided to include this factor in the final model since previous publications have reported that the duration of treatment is a relevant risk factor for developing AI following continuous topical corticosteroids use. The duration of AI events has been reported to vary between 2 weeks to 18 months.4,18 Additionally, a case report of AI demonstrated that 5 years of topical corticosteroids use can cause AI.6 Together, this suggests that patients with a longer duration of topical corticosteroids use are at increased risk of AI, especially those who also have other risk factors. Although both potency and dosage of topical corticosteroids have been reported to be significantly linked to HPA axis suppression, the present study found only a non-significance link. This could be the result of the small sample size as well as of other factors, eg, body surface area involvement and serum cortisol levels, which could have masked the association between potency and dosage of topical corticosteroids with HPA suppression.

To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to use these novel predictive factors to develop a predictive model for AI in patients using topical corticosteroids. This model has multiple potential implications. First, the model uses clinical and biochemical factors which are obtainable in many institutes. Second, the model’s risk score provides good diagnostic accuracy in terms of both sensitivity and specificity. Finally, each of the predictive factors in the model has an underlying pathophysiological explanation and is not due simply to chance.

There are some limitations in this study. First, the sample size is relatively small, although it does offer sufficient statistical power for each of the predictive factors. Second, further external validation is needed to validate the predictive performance of the model. Third, the cut-off level of serum cortisol after ACTH stimulation test was based on the older generation of ECLIA assay. There was a study proposed that the cut-off for serum cortisol in the newer generation of cortisol assay should be lower (~14–15 µg/dL) than the previous one (18 µg/dL).23 However, this proposed cut-off has not yet been established in the current guideline for AI. In the future, if the newer cut-off for serum cortisol will have been employed in the standard guideline, our predictive model may lead to overdiagnosis of AI.

Conclusions

The proposed predictive model uses both demographic and biochemical factors to determine the risk of AI in dermatological patients following topical corticosteroids use with a high level of diagnostic accuracy. This model has advantages in terms of a reduction in the number of dynamic ACTH stimulation tests needed, thus saving time and resources. Additionally, it can provide guidance to clinical practitioners regarding which patients should be closely followed up for development of AI. Future external validation of this predictive model is warranted.

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to Lamar G. Robert, PhD and Chongchit S. Robert, PhD for editing the manuscript.

Disclosure

The authors report no conflict of interest in this work.

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13. Levin C, Maibach HI. Topical corticosteroid-induced adrenocortical insufficiency: clinical implications. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2002;3(3):141–147. doi:10.2165/00128071-200203030-00001

14. Bornstein SR, Allolio B, Arlt W, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of primary adrenal insufficiency: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016;101(2):364–389. doi:10.1210/jc.2015-1710

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Updated Cushing’s disease guideline highlights new diagnosis, treatment ‘roadmap’

An updated guideline for the treatment of Cushing’s disease focuses on new therapeutic options and an algorithm for screening and diagnosis, along with best practices for managing disease recurrence.

Despite the recent approval of novel therapies, management of Cushing’s disease remains challenging. The disorder is associated with significant comorbidities and has high mortality if left uncontrolled.

Adrenal transparent _Adobe
Source: Adobe Stock

“As the disease is inexorable and chronic, patients often experience recurrence after surgery or are not responsive to medications,” Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, MACP, dean, executive vice president and professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and an Endocrine Today Editorial Board Member, told Healio. “These guidelines enable navigation of optimal therapeutic options now available for physicians and patients. Especially helpful are the evidence-based patient flow charts [that] guide the physician along a complex management path, which usually entails years or decades of follow-up.”

Shlomo Melmed

The Pituitary Society convened a consensus workshop with more than 50 academic researchers and clinical experts across five continents to discuss the application of recent evidence to clinical practice. In advance of the virtual meeting, participants reviewed data from January 2015 to April 2021 on screening and diagnosis; surgery, medical and radiation therapy; and disease-related and treatment-related complications of Cushing’s disease, all summarized in recorded lectures. The guideline includes recommendations regarding use of laboratory tests, imaging and treatment options, along with algorithms for diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome and management of Cushing’s disease.

Updates in laboratory, testing guidance

If Cushing’s syndrome is suspected, any of the available diagnostic tests could be useful, according to the guideline. The authors recommend starting with urinary free cortisol, late-night salivary cortisol, overnight 1 mg dexamethasone suppression, or a combination, depending on local availability.

If an adrenal tumor is suspected, the guideline recommends overnight dexamethasone suppression and using late-night salivary cortisol only if cortisone concentrations can also be reported.

The guideline includes several new recommendations in the diagnosis arena, particularly on the role of salivary cortisol assays, according to Maria Fleseriu, MD, FACE, a Healio | Endocrine Today Co-editor, professor of medicine and neurological surgery and director of the Pituitary Center at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

Maria Fleseriu

“Salivary cortisol assays are not available in all countries, thus other screening tests can also be used,” Fleseriu told Healio. “We also highlighted the sequence of testing for recurrence, as many patients’ urinary free cortisol becomes abnormal later in the course, sometimes up to 1 year later.”

The guideline states combined biochemical and imaging for select patients could potentially replace petrosal sinus sampling, a very specialized procedure that cannot be performed in all hospitals, but more data are needed.

“With the corticotropin-releasing hormone stimulation test becoming unavailable in the U.S. and other countries, the focus is now on desmopressin to replace corticotropin-releasing hormone in some of the dynamic testing, both for diagnosis of pseudo-Cushing’s as well as localization of adrenocorticotropic hormone excess,” Fleseriu said.

The guideline also has a new recommendation for anticoagulation for high-risk patients; however, the exact duration and which patients are at higher risk remains unknown.

“We always have to balance risk for clotting with risk for bleeding postop,” Fleseriu said. “Similarly, recommended workups for bone disease and growth hormone deficiency have been further structured based on pitfalls specifically related to hypercortisolemia influencing these complications, as well as improvement after Cushing’s remission in some patients, but not all.”

New treatment options

The guideline authors recommended individualizing medical therapy for all patients with Cushing’s disease based on the clinical scenario, including severity of hypercortisolism. “Regulatory approvals, treatment availability and drug costs vary between countries and often influence treatment selection,” the authors wrote. “However, where possible, it is important to consider balancing cost of treatment with the cost and the adverse consequences of ineffective or insufficient treatment. In patients with severe disease, the primary goal is to treat aggressively to normalize cortisol concentrations.”

Fleseriu said the authors reviewed outcomes data as well as pros and cons of surgery, repeat surgery, medical treatments, radiation and bilateral adrenalectomy, highlighting the importance of individualized treatment in Cushing’s disease.

“As shown over the last few years, recurrence rates are much higher than previously thought and patients need to be followed lifelong,” Fleseriu said. “The role of adjuvant therapy after either failed pituitary surgery or recurrence is becoming more important, but preoperative or even primary medical treatment has been also used more, too, especially in the COVID-19 era.”

The guideline summarized data on all medical treatments available, either approved by regulatory agencies or used off-label, as well as drugs studied in phase 3 clinical trials.

“Based on great discussions at the meeting and subsequent emails to reach consensus, we highlighted and graded recommendations on several practical points,” Fleseriu said. “These include which factors are helpful in selection of a medical therapy, which factors are used in selecting an adrenal steroidogenesis inhibitor, how is tumor growth monitored when using an adrenal steroidogenesis inhibitor or glucocorticoid receptor blocker, and how treatment response is monitored for each therapy. We also outline which factors are considered in deciding whether to use combination therapy or to switch to another therapy and which agents are used for optimal combination therapy.”

Future research needed

The guideline authors noted more research is needed regarding screening and diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome; researchers must optimize pituitary MRI and PET imaging using improved data acquisition and processing to improve microadenoma detection. New diagnostic algorithms are also needed for the differential diagnosis using invasive vs. noninvasive strategies. Additionally, the researchers said the use of anticoagulant prophylaxis and therapy in different populations and settings must be further studied, as well as determining the clinical benefit of restoring the circadian rhythm, potentially with a higher nighttime medication dose, as well as identifying better markers of disease activity and control.

“Hopefully, our patients will now experience a higher quality of life and fewer comorbidities if their endocrinologist and care teams are equipped with this informative roadmap for integrated management, employing a consolidation of surgery, radiation and medical treatments,” Melmed told Healio.

Innovative One-Visit Adrenal Tumor Diagnosis and Treatment Program Begins in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla.Nov. 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Carling Adrenal Center, a worldwide destination for the surgical treatment of adrenal tumors, becomes the first center to offer adrenal vein sampling and curative surgery in one visit.

The novel protocol and diagnostic method for adrenal tumors will condense a 2–4-week process of localization of hyper-secreting adrenal tumors and subsequent curative surgery down to just one day. The innovative approach combines highly specialized adrenal vein sampling with rapid adrenal hormone lab testing and then consultation with the world’s highest volume adrenal surgeon. If appropriate, a patient may even complete their mini-surgery during that same visit.

Established by Dr. Tobias Carling in 2020, the Carling Adrenal Center located at the Hospital for Endocrine Surgery in Tampa FL, is the highest volume adrenal surgical center in the world. The Center now averages nearly 20 adrenal tumor patients every week that could benefit from this novel diagnostic and treatment approach to address a decades-long problem for patients with adrenal tumors.

The Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline recommends adrenal vein sampling (AVS) as the preferred method to select patients with primary hyperaldosteronism for an adrenalectomy.

“The difficulty and complexity of testing and diagnosing adrenal tumors secreting excess aldosterone is the primary reason why less than 5% of these adrenal tumors are diagnosed and treated,” says Dr. Carling. “By combining expertise in interventional radiology for adrenal vein sampling and rapid laboratory measurements of adrenal hormones with our unique international consulting capability, we can determine which adrenal gland is bad and whether or not the patient needs that adrenal gland removed.”

Adrenal vein sampling is performed through small catheters placed in very specific veins where blood samples are obtained from both adrenal veins and the inferior vena cava. In experienced centers, the bilateral adrenal veins are catheterized and sampled with a success rate exceeding 90%. Technical success is directly associated with operator experience, leading to the recommendation that the procedure only be performed by true experts or the test will very likely be of no help.

Dr. Carling’s very high volume of adrenal surgery for many years has allowed him to publish scientific studies demonstrating that in aldosterone-producing adenomas, there is a strong correlation between the imaging phenotype (i.e., what the tumor looks like on a CT scan), histology (what the tumor looks like under the microscope) and genotype (what gene is mutated in the tumor).

This knowledge allows Dr. Carling and his team at the Hospital for Endocrine Surgery to predict who can go straight to surgery with an excellent outcome, and who may first need adrenal vein sampling to determine which adrenal gland is over-producing the hormone causing significant morbidity and mortality.

With adrenal vein sampling proving lateralization, the next step is surgical removal of the adrenal tumor. Dr. Carling has more experience with all types of adrenal surgery than any surgeon in the United States, but especially with advanced, minimally invasive adrenal operations which are the best options for aldosterone-secreting adrenal tumors. A fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Carling is a member of both the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons (AAES) and the International Association of Endocrine Surgeons (IAES).

Dr. Carling moved his world-renowned adrenal surgery program from Yale University to Tampa, Florida in early 2020 to start the Carling Adrenal Center. Here, patients needing adrenal surgery have access to the best practices and best techniques the world has to offer.

In January 2022, the Carling Adrenal Center will unite with the Norman Parathyroid Center, the Clayman Thyroid Center and the Scarless Thyroid Surgery Center at the brand-new Hospital for Endocrine Surgery located in Tampa, Florida.

About the Carling Adrenal Center: Founded by Dr. Tobias Carling, one of the world’s leading experts in adrenal gland surgery, the Carling Adrenal Center is a worldwide destination for the surgical treatment of adrenal tumors. Dr. Carling spent nearly 20 years at Yale University, including 7 as the Chief of Endocrine Surgery before leaving in 2020 to open to Carling Adrenal Center, which performs more adrenal operations than any other hospital in the world. More about adrenal vein sampling for adrenal tumors can be found at the Center’s website www.adrenal.com and here. (813) 972-0000.

Contact:
Julie Canan, Director of Marketing
Carling Adrenal Center
juliec@parathyroid.com

SOURCE Carling Adrenal Center

From https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/innovative-one-visit-adrenal-tumor-diagnosis-and-treatment-program-begins-in-tampa-301414465.html

Cushing Disease Treated Successfully with Metyrapone During Pregnancy

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aace.2021.10.004Get rights and content
Under a Creative Commons license
open access

Highlights

Cushing’s Disease (CD) in pregnancy is rare, but poses many risks to the mother and fetus

Although surgery is still considered first line, this CASE highlights the successful use of metyrapone throughout pregnancy to manage CD in patients where surgery is considered high risk or low likelihood of cure

The dose of metyrapone can be titrated to a goal urinary free cortisol of < 150 ug/24 hours given the known rise in cortisol during gestation

Though no fetal adverse events have been reported, metyrapone does cross the placenta and long-term effects are unknown.

ABSTRACT

Background

Cushing Disease (CD) in pregnancy is a rare, but serious, disease that adversely impacts maternal and fetal outcomes. As the sole use of metyrapone in the management of CD has been rarely reported, we describe our experience using it to treat a pregnant patient with CD.

Case Report

34-year-old woman with hypertension who was diagnosed with adrenocorticotropic hormone-dependent CD based on a urinary free cortisol (UFC) of 290 μg/24hr (reference 6-42μg/dL) and abnormal dexamethasone suppression test (cortisol 12.4 μg/dL) before becoming pregnant. She conceived naturally 12 weeks post-transsphenoidal surgery, and was subsequently found to have persistent disease with UFC 768μg/dL. Surgery was deemed high risk given the proximity of the tumor to the right carotid artery and high likelihood of residual disease. Instead, she was managed with metyrapone throughout her pregnancy and titrated to goal UFC of <150μg/24hr due to the known physiologic rise in cortisol during gestation. The patient had diet-controlled gestational diabetes, and well-controlled hypertension. She gave birth at 37 weeks gestation to a healthy baby boy, without adrenal insufficiency in the baby or mother.

Discussion

This CASE highlights the successful use of metyrapone throughout pregnancy to manage CD in patients where surgery is considered high risk or low likelihood of cure. While metyrapone is effective, close surveillance is required for worsening hypertension, hypokalemia, and potential adrenal insufficiency. Though no fetal adverse events have been reported, this medication crosses the placenta and long-term effects are unknown.

Conclusion

We describe a CASE of CD during pregnancy that was successfully treated with metyrapone.

Key words

Cushing disease
metyrapone
pregnancy
cortisol

INTRODUCTION

Cushing disease (CD) is caused by endogenous overproduction of glucocorticoids due to hypersecretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) by a pituitary adenoma. CD in pregnancy is very rare, and when it occurs, it is considered a high-risk pregnancy with many potential adverse outcomes for both the mother and fetus.1 Infertility is common in CD due to cortisol and androgen excess leading to hypogonadotropic hypogonadism.1 Due to the rarity of CD in pregnancy, there is little guidance in terms of treatment for this patient population. Similar to non-pregnant patients, the first-line treatment is transsphenoidal pituitary adenoma resection, with medical therapy as a second-line treatment option. This report presents a CASE that highlights the use of metyrapone, a steroidogenesis inhibitor, as a sole therapy in cases where surgery is deemed to be high risk and unlikely curative due to location of the tumor.

CASE REPORT

A 34-year-old woman with a past medical history of hypertension and infertility for six years presented to endocrinology for evaluation. Aside from difficulty conceiving, her only complaints were nausea and easy bruising. On exam she did not have clinical features of CD –abdominal violaceous striae, moon facies or a dorsocervical fat pad were absent. Her laboratory results revealed an elevated prolactin level (50-60ng/mL, reference range 1.4-24), an elevated ACTH level (61 pg/mL, reference range 0-46), and low FSH and LH levels (1.7mIU/mL and 1.76mIU/mL, respectively). Further testing demonstrated an elevated urinary free cortisol level (UFC) (290μg/24 hour, reference range 6-42) and her cortisol failed to suppress on a 1mg dexamethasone suppression test (cortisol 12.4μg/dL). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the pituitary with and without contrast showed a T2 hyperintense, hypoenhancing lesion within the right side of the sella touching the right cavernous internal carotid artery measuring 8x8x9 mm consistent with a pituitary adenoma (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Caption: T1 weighted post gadolinium coronal image of the pituitary gland with a small hypoenhancing lesion within the right side of the sella.

After the presumed diagnosis of CD was made, she was referred to neurosurgery for transsphenoidal resection of the adenoma, which she underwent a few months later. Intra-operatively, a white friable tumor was found, and otherwise the surgery was uneventful. Three months later, however, she was found to have a persistent 8x8x9mm hypoenhancing lesion extending laterally over the right cavernous carotid artery on MRI. The mass approximated but did not contact the right intracranial optic nerve. The pathology from resected tissue was consistent with normal pituitary tissue with staining for growth hormone (80%), ACTH (30%), prolactin (40%), follicle stimulating hormone (5%), luteinizing hormone (40%) and thyroid stimulating hormone (15%), proving the surgery to have been unsuccessful.

Twelve weeks post-operatively, the patient discovered she was pregnant. At 12 weeks gestation, her UFC was 768μg/24h and two midnight salivary cortisol levels were elevated at 0.175 and 0.625μg/dL (reference <0.010-0.090). She was experiencing easy bruising and taking labetalol 400 mg twice daily for hypertension. She had gained 10 pounds by 12 weeks gestation.

A second transsphenoidal surgery during pregnancy was deemed high risk, with a high likelihood of residual disease due to the proximity of the tumor to the right carotid artery. The decision was made to treat the patient medically with metyrapone which was started at 250 mg twice per day at 12 weeks gestation and was eventually uptitrated based on UFC levels every 3-4 weeks (goal of <150μg /24h) to 1000 mg three times per day by the time of delivery with an eventual UFC level of 120μg/24h (Figure 2) . Morning ACTH and serum cortisol levels were monitored for potential adrenal insufficiency.

Figure 2. Caption: This figure depicts the patient’s 24 hour urinary cortisol levels over time as well as the titration of metyrapone dosage in mg/day.

Her hypertension was well controlled throughout pregnancy on labetalol with the addition of nifedipine XL 30mg daily in the second trimester. She remained normokalemic with potassium ranging from 3.8-4.1mEq/L. She was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 24 weeks by an abnormal two-step oral glucose tolerance test, which was diet-controlled. The patient was induced at 37 weeks gestation due to cervical insufficiency with cerclage in place, and was given stress dose steroids along with metyrapone. She delivered a healthy baby boy vaginally without complications. His Apgar scores were 9 and 9 and he weighed 6 pounds and 5 ounces. At the time of delivery and one week later, the baby’s cortisol levels were normal (6 μg/dL, normal 4-20), without evidence of adrenal insufficiency.

The patient’s metyrapone dose was reduced to 500mg three times a day after pregnancy and her 2 month postpartum 24 hour UFC was 42μg/24hr. The patient stopped the metyrapone on her own four months later and her UFC was found to be elevated at 272ug/24hr (normal 6-42μg/24hr). An MRI one year postpartum revealed a 10x10x9 mm adenoma in the right sella with some suprasellar extension without compression of the optic chiasm, but with abutment of the right carotid artery. Due to the persistently elevated cortisol, large size of the tumor, and potential for cure, especially if followed by radiation therapy, a second transsphenoidal surgery was recommended. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the patient underwent a delayed surgery 1.5 years postpartum. The pathology was consistent with a pituitary adenoma that stained strongly and diffusely for ACTH and synaptophysin, only. Her postoperative day 2 cortisol was 1.1μg/dL (reference range 6.7-22.6) and hydrocortisone 20mg in the morning and 10mg in the afternoon was started. She remains on hydrocortisone replacement and went on to conceive again, one month after her second surgery.

DISCUSSION

We describe a patient with pre-existing CD who became pregnant and was managed successfully with metyrapone throughout her pregnancy.

Although CD is rare in pregnancy, it can occur, and poses risks to both the mother and fetus.1,2 Potential maternal complications include hypertension, preeclampsia, diabetes, fractures and more uncommonly, cardiac failure, psychiatric disorders, infection and maternal death.1,2 There is also increased fetal morbidity including prematurity, intrauterine growth retardation and less commonly CD can lead to stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, intrauterine death and hypoadrenalism.1,2

It is, therefore, imperative that these patients receive prompt care to control cortisol levels. The treatment of CD in pregnancy is challenging as there are no large research trials studying the efficacy and safety of medications in CD during pregnancy. Pituitary surgery is first-line recommendation and should be done late in the first trimester or in the second trimester to prevent spontaneous pregnancy loss.3 In this CASE, however, it was felt that a second surgery would be high-risk given the proximity of the tumor to the right carotid artery and possibly not curative, and thus surgery was not a feasible option. She was therefore successfully managed with medical therapy with metyrapone alone throughout her pregnancy.

Metyrapone use in pregnancy has been previously reported in the literature and has been shown to be effective in reducing cortisol levels.4,5,6 Although not approved for use in pregnancy, this steroidogenesis inhibitor is the most commonly used medication to treat Cushing’s syndrome in pregnant women.3,5 Due to metyrapone’s inhibition of 11-beta-hydroxylase, there is a buildup of steroidogenesis precursors such as 11-deoxycorticosterone, which can worsen hypertension, increase frequency of preeclampsia, and cause hypokalemia.3 Metyrapone also leads to elevation of adrenal androgens, which in conjunction with accumulation of 11-deoxycorticosterone, can cause hirsutism and virilization. 8

Though the use of Cabergoline has been reported in cases with Cushing disease during pregnancy, no long term safety data is available regarding it effects on pregnancy as well as the fetus. Moreover, studies assessing the effect of cabergoline in persistent or recurrent CD show a response rate of 20-30% only in cases with mild hypercortisolism. 9

There is no consensus on how to medically treat patients with CD during pregnancy. We chose a goal UFC of <150μg/24 hours because of the physiological rise of cortisol to two to three times the upper limit of normal during pregnancy.3,7 During pregnancy, there is an increase in corticotropin-releasing hormone from the placenta, which is identical in structure to the hypothalamic form.7 This leads to increased levels of ACTH which stimulates the maternal adrenal glands to become slightly hypertrophic and accounts for the rise in serum cortisol levels in pregnancy.7 Corticosteroid-binding globulin also increases in pregnancy, along with serum free cortisol, leading to urinary free cortisol increasing to 3-fold the normal range.7 We therefore aimed to keep our patient’s urinary free cortisol approximately 3 times the upper limit of normal on our assay, to maintain normal cortisol levels for pregnancy.

Close surveillance of patients is required for worsening hypertension, hypokalemia, and potential adrenal insufficiency.3 Although no fetal adverse events from metyrapone have been reported, the medication does cross the placenta, leading to the potential for fetal adrenal insufficiency, and long-term effects are unknown.3

CONCLUSION

This CASE demonstrates the successful use of metyrapone alone to treat CD throughout pregnancy resulting in the birth of a healthy baby without adrenal insufficiency. These cases are particularly challenging given the lack of FDA-approved therapies and the lack of consensus on directing titration of medications and the duration of therapy.

Uncited reference

4.6..

REFERENCES:

Clinical Relevance: Cushing’s Disease (CD) in pregnancy is a rare, but serious, disease that has potential adverse effects on maternal and fetal health. Surgery is considered first line therapy, and there is little consensus on medical treatment of CD in pregnancy. This CASE demonstrates the successful use and titration of metyrapone throughout pregnancy.

From https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2376060521001164

Acute severe Cushing’s disease presenting as a hypercoagulable state

This article was originally published here

Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2021 Jul 29;34(6):715-717. doi: 10.1080/08998280.2021.1953950. eCollection 2021.

ABSTRACT

Cushing’s disease (CD) is the most common cause of endogenous cortisol excess. We discuss the case of a 60-year-old woman with recurrent venous thromboembolism, refractory hypokalemia, and lumbar vertebrae compression fractures with a rapidly progressive disease course.

Ectopic hypercortisolism was suspected given the patient’s age and rapid onset of disease. Investigations revealed cortisol excess from a pituitary microadenoma.

This case demonstrates that CD can present with severe findings and highlights the increased risk of venous thromboembolism in hypercortisolism, especially in CD.

PMID:34732999 | PMC:PMC8545141 | DOI:10.1080/08998280.2021.1953950

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