Study Examines Therapy Options for Post-adrenalectomy Low Glucocorticoid Levels

Hydrocortisone and prednisone have comparable safety and effectiveness when used as glucocorticoid replacement therapy in patients with adrenal adenoma or Cushing’s disease who underwent adrenalectomy, a new study shows.

The study, “Comparison of hydrocortisone and prednisone in the glucocorticoid replacement therapy post-adrenalectomy of Cushing’s Syndrome,” was published in the journal Oncotarget.

The symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome are related to excessive levels of glucocorticoids in our body. Glucocorticoids are a type of steroid hormones produced by the adrenal gland. Consequently, a procedure called adrenalectomy – removal of the adrenal glands – is usually conducted in patients with Cushing’s syndrome.

Unfortunately, adrenalectomy leads to a sharp drop in hormones that are necessary for our bodies. So, post-adrenalectomy glucocorticoid replacement therapy is required for patients.

Hydrocortisone and prednisone are synthetic glucocorticoids that most often are used for glucocorticoid replacement therapy.

Treatment with either hydrocortisone or prednisone has proven effective in patients with Cushing’s syndrome. However, few studies have compared the two treatments directly to determine if there are significant advantages of one therapy over another.

Chinese researchers set out to compare the effectiveness and safety of hydrocortisone and prednisone treatments in patients with Cushing’s syndrome, up to six months after undergoing adrenalectomy.

Patients were treated with either hydrocortisone or prednisone starting at day two post-adrenalectomy. The withdrawal schedule varied by individual patients.

At baseline, both groups had similar responses to the adrenalectomy, including the correction of hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels), and hypokalemia (low potassium levels). Furthermore, most patients in both groups lost weight and showed significant improvement, as judged by a subjective evaluation questionnaire.

Hydrocortisone did show a significant advantage over prednisone in the improvement of liver function, but its use also was associated with significant swelling of the lower extremities, as compared to prednisone.

Patients in both groups went on to develop adrenal insufficiency (AI) during glucocorticoid withdrawal. However, there were no significant differences in the AI incidence rate – 35 percent in the hydrocortisone group versus 45 percent in the prednisone group. The severity of A also was not significantly different between the groups.

Furthermore, most of the AI symptoms were relieved by going back to the initial doses of the glucocorticoid replacement.

As there were no significant differences between the two treatments, the findings support “the use of both hydrocortisone and prednisone in the glucocorticoid replacement therapy post-adrenalectomy for patients of adrenal adenoma or Cushing’s disease,” researchers concluded.

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/01/11/post-adrenalectomy-glucocorticoid-replacement-therapy/

Moderately impaired renal function increases morning cortisol and cortisol levels at dexamethasone suppression test in patients with incidentally detected adrenal adenomas

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2015 May 23. doi: 10.1111/cen.12823. [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Patients with incidentally detected adrenal adenomas may have subclinical hypercortisolism. We hypothesized that impaired renal function could lead to increased cortisol levels in these patients.

DESIGN:

Descriptive retrospective study of consecutive patients.

PATIENTS:

A total of 166 patients with incidentally detected unilateral adrenal adenomas were examined during 2008-2013.

MEASUREMENTS:

Levels of cortisol, ACTH and cortisol at 1 mg overnight dexamethasone suppression test (DST) were measured. The estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was calculated using the MDRD equation.

RESULTS:

Renal function was normal, mildly impaired, moderately impaired or severely impaired (eGFR >90, 60-90, 30-60 and 15-30 ml/min/1·73 m2 ) in 34, 54, 10 and 1% of the patients, respectively. Patients with normal and mildly impaired renal function had similar cortisol levels. Patients with moderately impaired renal function, compared to all the patients with eGFR >60 ml/min/1·73 m2 , exhibited increased cortisol (541 vs 456 nmol/l, P = 0·02), increased cortisol at DST (62 vs 37 nmol/l, P = 0·001), but similar ACTH levels (4·1 vs 2·9 pmol/l, P = 0·21). Patients with moderately impaired renal function thus exhibited cortisol at DST ≥50 nmol/l, more often than patients with eGFR >60 ml/min/1·73 m2 (76% vs 30%, P = 0·000), while the prevalence of ACTH below 2 pmol/l was similar (24% vs 31%, P = 0·51).

CONCLUSIONS:

Moderately impaired renal function increases cortisol and cortisol at DST in patients with adrenal adenomas, while mildly impaired renal function has no such effect. Cortisol level at DST ≥50 nmol/l therefore seems to have low specificity in diagnosing subclinical adrenal hypercortisolism, and an additional criterion, for example low ACTH, is required.

© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

PMID:
26010731
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26010731

OR17-Novel Aspects of Adrenal Tumors and the HPA Axis

ENDO_2015

 

March 06, 2015

OR17-Novel Aspects of Adrenal Tumors and the HPA Axis

Epigenetic modulation of DNA Is associated with fatigue, depression and anxiety in patients with Cushing’s syndrome in remission: A genome-wide methylation study

CAM Glad, JC Andersson-Assarsson, P Berglund, R Bergthorsdottir, O Ragnarsson, G Johannsson

Summary: Researchers conducted this study to determine whether patients with Cushing’s syndrome (CS) that is in remission have specific epigenetic alterations that are associated with persistent cognitive impairments, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Patients with CS in remission were shows to have specific DNA methylation that differed from that of healthy controls and was strongly correlated with clinical traits of anxiety, depression and fatigue, they concluded, adding that their results may suggest that an interaction between the glucocorticoid and the retinoic acid receptor is implicated in the long-term outcome of patients with CS in remission. The persistent cognitive impairment observed in patients with CS in remission, therefore, may be due to epigenetic modulation of DNA, they concluded.

Methods:

  • For this cross-sectional, case-controlled, single center study, researchers included 48 women with CS in remission (mean age±SD: 52.9±14 years) and 16 controls (mean age±SD: 53.6±16 years) matched for age, gender and educational level.
  • The mean age at diagnosis of CS was 37±14 years and the median (interquartile range) duration of remission was 13 (5-19) years.
  • In all, 37 patients had Cushing’s disease (CD) and 11 had a cortisol producing adrenal adenoma.
  • Researchers used the fatigue impact scale (FIS) to evaluate fatigue, and the comprehensive psychopathological rating scale to evaluate depression and anxiety; they assessed cognitive function by standardized neuropsychological tests.
  • DNA was isolated from whole blood, and DNA methylation was analyzed on the Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450K BeadChip, which simultaneously interrogates >465,000 methylation sites per sample.
  • Researchers performed data quality control and analysis using the ChAMP methylation analysis package in R, and used Spearmen’s rho to perform correlation analyses.

Results:

  • Researchers found that patients had higher median score for FIS, depression and anxiety.
  • Methylation analysis identified 3,903 probes (in 340 genes) in regions that were differently methylated between CS patients and controls, and they found that 28% of these were significantly correlated to at least one of the clinical traits.
  • Fatigue, depression and anxiety were the most commonly correlated traits, and two of the most highly correlated genes were RXRB and COL11A2.
  • Gene ontology analysis revealed that these belong to the same GO-terms and are involved in retinoic acid receptor activity.
  • Finally, researchers found that both genes were specifically hypomethylated in cases as compared to controls.

 

This project has received financial support from the Swedish federal government under the LUA/ALF agreement, The Health & Medical Care Committee of the Regional Executive Board, Region Västra Götaland, The Swedish Society of Medicine and The Swedish Society of Endocrinology.

From http://www.mdlinx.com/endocrinology/conference-abstract.cfm/ZZ5BA369FDE9DE4CED82CB6A7CD5BFD1BE/42321/?utm_source=confcoveragenl&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_content=abstract-list&utm_campaign=abstract-ENDO2015&nonus=0

Screening for Cushing’s syndrome: Is it worthwhile?

The data suggests that Cushing is not frequent enough to support the use of routine screening in patients with morbid obesity and type 2 DM. Also only 1 % of hypertensive patients have secondary hypertension due to CS. However, screening should be considered in young patients with resistant DM and/or hypertension. Among patients with osteoporosis and vertebral fractures up to 5 % were diagnosed with subclinical hypercortisolism; most of these had adrenal adenoma. Screening for CS is important in subjects with adrenal incidentaloma, and many studies show a high prevalence (~10 %) of Cushing or subclinical CS in these patients.

Abstract

Introduction

Cushing’s syndrome (CS) is a rare disease characterized by a collection of signs and symptoms, also common in the general population without elevated cortisol secretion. During the last years more patients with CS are identified earlier and with milder disease. Many of these patients are diagnosed during screening efforts performed for certain or isolated complaints like weight gain, diabetes mellitus (DM), hypertension, osteoporosis, elevated white blood cell counts and more.

Methods

In this review article the most popular screening test performed in the studies cited was the 1-mg dexamethasone suppression test.

Conclusions

Cushing is not frequent enough to support the use of routine screening in patients with morbid obesity and type 2 DM. Also only 1 % of hypertensive patients have secondary hypertension due to CS. However, screening should be considered in young patients with resistant DM and/or hypertension. Among patients with osteoporosis and vertebral fractures up to 5 % were diagnosed with subclinical hypercortisolism; most of these had adrenal adenoma. Screening for CS is important in subjects with adrenal incidentaloma, and many studies show a high prevalence (~10 %) of Cushing or subclinical CS in these patients.

Buy this article for $39.00 at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11102-015-0634-9

Exophthalmos and Cushing’s Syndrome

A woman experienced red, irritated and bulging eyes. She saw an ophthalmologist who strongly suspected Graves’ ophthalmopathy. However, the patient did not have and never had hyperthyroidism.

Indeed, she had primary hypothyroidism optimally treated with levothyroxine. Her thyroid stimulating hormone level was 1.197 uIU/mL.

An MRI of the orbits showed normal extraocular muscles without thickening, but there was mild proptosis and somewhat increased intraorbital fat content. Both thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins as well as thyrotropin receptor antibodies were negative.

The patient presented to her primary care physician a few months later. She had experienced a 40-lb weight gain over only a few months and also had difficult-to-control blood pressure.

After failing to respond to several antihypertensive medications, her primary care physician astutely decided to evaluate for secondary causes of hypertension. A renal ultrasound was ordered to evaluate for renal artery stenosis, and the imaging identified an incidental right-sided adrenal mass. A CT confirmed a 3.4-cm right-sided adrenal mass. Her morning cortisol was slightly high at 24.7 ug/dL (4.3 – 22.4) and her adrenocorticotropic hormone was slightly low at 5 pg/mL (10-60).

At this point I saw the patient in consultation. She definitely had many of the expected clinical exam findings of Cushing’s syndrome, including increased fat deposition to her abdomen, neck, and supraclavicular areas, as well as striae. Her 24-hour urine cortisol was markedly elevated at 358 mcg/24hrs (< 45) confirming our suspicions.

She asked me, “Do you think that my eye problem could be related to this?”

“I’ve not heard of it before,” I replied, “but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a connection. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your eyes got better after surgery?”

The patient underwent surgery to remove what fortunately turned out to be a benign adrenal adenoma.

When we saw her in follow-up 2 weeks later, her blood pressures were normal off medication and her eye symptoms had improved. I had a medical student rotating with me, so I suggested that we do a PubMed literature search.

The first article to come up was a case report titled “Exophthalmos: A Forgotten Clinical Sign of Cushing’s Syndrome.” Indeed, not only did Harvey Cushing describe this clinical finding in his original case series in 1932, but others have reported that up to 45% of patients with active Cushing’s syndrome have exophthalmos.

The cause is uncertain but is theorized to be due to increased intraorbital fat deposition. Unlike exophthalmos due to thyroid disease, the orbital muscles are relatively normal — just as they were with our patient.

Some of you may have seen exophthalmos in your Cushing’s patients; however, this was the first time I had seen it. Just because one has not heard of something, does not mean it could never happen; no one knows everything. “When in doubt, look it up” is a good habit for both attending physicians and their students.

For more information:

Giugni AS, et al. Case Rep Endocrinol. 2013; 2013: 205208.

From http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/adrenal/news/blogs/%7B779bf3e5-e1da-459e-af27-955c9b4274a5%7D/thomas-b-repas-do-facp-face-cde/exophthalmos-and-cushings-syndrome

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