Crooke’s changes common in patients with Cushing’s syndrome, high cortisol production


Evidence of Crooke hyaline changes in the pituitary gland points to a higher likelihood of Cushing’s syndrome in adults, with the changes in basophil cells occurring in 75% to 80% of patients with the hormonal disorder, according to research in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

In a retrospective review of hospital patient records from adults with Cushing’s syndrome who underwent pituitary surgery, researchers also found that a higher degree of cortisol production, as well as exposure to excess glucocorticoids, are often associated with Crooke’s changes in adults.

“The presence of Crooke’s changes is a clear indication of the presence of Cushing’s syndrome, although the absence of Crooke’s changes does not exclude it,” the researchers wrote.

Edward H. Oldfield, MD, FACS, of the department of neurological surgery at University of Virginia Health System, and colleagues analyzed electronic hospital data from 213 consecutive patients with Cushing’s syndrome who received pituitary surgery between 2008 and March 2014. Researchers reviewed analysis of the normal pituitary tissue included with the specimens obtained at surgery, as well as cortisol production measured by 24-hour urine.

Within the cohort, Crooke’s changes occurred in 74% of patients; Crooke’s changes occurred in 81% of patients with an adrenocorticotropic hormone tumor.

Researchers also found that 91% of patients with an adrenocorticotropic hormone-producing tumor and a urinary free cortisol test at least fourfold the upper limit of normal had evidence of Crooke’s changes vs. 74% of patients with a urine cortisol amount that was less than fourfold the upper limit of normal (P = .008).

“Our results clearly demonstrate a correlation between the degree of cortisol production and the presence of Crooke’s changes,” the researchers wrote. “Patients with cortisol production exceeding fourfold upper limit almost all had Crooke’s changes.”

Researchers said study results indicate that the presence of Crooke’s changes may be used to indicate that a patient has Cushing’s syndrome following a pituitary surgery in which no tumor is found.

“However, the absence of Crooke’s changes does not reliably indicate the absence of Cushing’s syndrome, as 19% of patients with a proven [adrenocorticotropic hormone-producing tumor] did not have Crooke’s changes,” the researchers wrote. by Regina Schaffer

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.


Genetic mutation lowers obesity in Cushing’s syndrome

London E. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013; doi:10.1210/jc.2013-1956.

Among adult patients with Cushing’s syndrome, those with mutations in PRKAR1A, the gene that controls cAMP-dependent protein kinase, are less obese than their counterparts without these mutations, according to a recent study.

The retrospective study evaluated adrenalectomy samples from 51 patients with Cushing’s syndrome, 13 with PRKAR1A mutations and 32 without. Of the 51 patients, 40 were female and 11 were male, and patients ranged in age from 4 to 74 years.

A non-Cushing’s syndrome comparison group consisting of 6 adrenalectomy patients with aldosterone producing adenomas (APAs) was included. Additional comparison groups comprising clinical data from 89 patients with Cushing’s disease and 26 with hyperaldosteronism were also studied.

Researchers recorded the weight, height and BMI of all patients, and measured abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (ScAT) and periadrenal adipose tissue (PAT) using computed tomography. PAT was collected and frozen for evaluation; the extracts were assessed for levels of cAMP and protein kinase (PKA) activity, as well as for protein and mRNA expression of subunits of PKA. Diurnal cortisol levels and urine-free cortisol were also measured preoperatively.

The study found that in adults with Cushing’s syndrome, the mean BMI of those with PRKAR1A mutations was lower than that of patients with noPRKAR1A mutations (P<.05), and was not inconsistent with the hyperaldosteronism comparison group.

In pediatric patients with adrenal Cushing’s syndrome, the presence of PRKAR1A mutation did not have an impact on mean BMI z-scores. However, in comparison with pediatric patients with pituitary Cushing’s disease, the BMI z-scores were significantly lower in pediatric Cushing’s disease patients with PRKAR1Amutations (P<.05). Patients with Cushing’s syndrome without PRKAR1A mutations had significantly more PAT and ScAT than non-Cushing’s syndrome patients. Additionally, the ratio of basal-to-total (cAMP-triggered) PKA activity was significantly lower in patients with PRKAR1A mutations, suggesting greater proportions of active PKA (P<.005).

“These findings have obvious implications in the establishment of the diagnosis of CS in patients with PRKAR1A mutations: These patients may be leaner than other patients with [Cushing’s syndrome],” the study authors wrote. “Perhaps more importantly, our findings point to the importance of cAMP and or PKA signaling in the regulation of adiposity.”

Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.


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