Slow and Steady With Osilodrostat Best in Cushing’s Disease

Gradual dose escalation had fewer adverse events, same therapeutic benefit, as quicker increases

by Kristen Monaco, Staff Writer, MedPage Today May 27, 2021 A more gradual increase in oral osilodrostat (Isturisa) dosing was better tolerated among patients with Cushing’s disease, compared with those who had more accelerated increases, a researcher reported.

Looking at outcomes from two phase III trials assessing osilodrostat, only 27% of patients had hypocortisolism-related adverse events if dosing was gradually increased every 3 weeks, said Maria Fleseriu, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, in a presentation at the virtual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE).

On the other hand, 51% of patients experienced a hypocortisolism-related adverse event if osilodrostat dose was increased to once every 2 weeks.

Acting as a potent oral 11-beta-hydroxylase inhibitor, osilodrostat was first approved by the FDA in March 2020 for adults with Cushing’s disease who either cannot undergo pituitary gland surgery or have undergone the surgery but still have the disease. The drug is currently available in 1 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg film-coated tablets.

The approval came based off of the positive findings from the complementary LINC3 and LINC4 trials.

The LINC3 trial included 137 adults with Cushing’s disease with a mean 24-hour urinary free cortisol concentration (mUFC) over 1.5 times the upper limit of normal (50 μg/24 hours), along with morning plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone above the lower limit of normal (9 pg/mL).

During the open-label, dose-escalation period, all the participants were given 2 mg of osilodrostat twice per day, 12 hours apart. Over this 12-week titration phase, dose escalations were allowed once every 2 weeks if there were no tolerability issues to achieve a maximum dose of 30 mg twice a day.

After this 12-week dose-escalation schedule, additional bumps up in dose were permitted every 4 weeks. The median daily osilodrostat dose was 7.1 mg.

The LINC4 trial included 73 patients with Cushing’s disease with an mUFC over 1.3 times the upper limit of normal. The 48 patients randomized to receive treatment were likewise started on 2 mg bid of osilodrostat. However, this trial had a more gradual dose-escalation schedule, as doses were increased only every 3 weeks to achieve a 20 mg bid dose.

After the 12-week dose-escalation phase, patients on a dose over 2 mg bid were restarted on 2 mg bid at week 12, where dose escalations were permitted once every 3 weeks thereafter to achieve a maximum 30 mg bid dose during this additional 36-week extension phase.

Patients in this trial achieved a median daily osilodrostat dose of 5.0 mg.

In both studies, patients’ median age was about 40 years, the majority of patients were female, and about 88% had undergone a previous pituitary surgery.

When comparing the adverse event profiles of both trials, Fleseriu and colleagues found that more than half of patients on the 2-week dose-escalation schedule experienced any grade of hypercortisolism-related adverse events. About 10.2% of these events were considered grade 3.

About 28% of these patients had adrenal insufficiency — the most common hypercortisolism-related adverse event reported. This was a catch-all term that include events like glucocorticoid deficiency, adrenocortical insufficiency, steroid withdrawal syndrome, and decreased cortisol, Fleseriu explained.

Conversely, only 27.4% of patients on a 3-week dose escalation schedule experienced a hypercortisolism-related adverse event, and only 2.7% of these were grade 3.

No grade 4 events occurred in either trial, and most events were considered mild or moderate in severity.

“These adverse events were not associated with any specific osilodrostat dose of mean UFC level,” Fleseriu said, adding that most of these events occurred during the initial dose-escalation periods.

About 60% and 58% of all hypocortisolism-related adverse events occurred during the dose titration period in the 2-week and 3-week dose-escalation schedules, respectively. These events were managed via dose reduction, a temporary interruption in medication, and/or a concomitant medication.

Very few patients in either trial permanently discontinued treatment due to these adverse events, Fleseriu noted.

“Despite differences in the frequency of dose escalation, the time to first mUFC normalization was similar in the LINC3 and LINC4 studies,” she said, adding that “gradual increases in osilodrostat dose from a starting dose of 2 mg bid can mitigate hypocortisolism-related adverse events without affecting mUFC control.”

“For patients with Cushing’s disease, osilodrostat should be initiated at the recommended starting dose with incremental dose increases, based on individual response and tolerability aimed at normalizing cortisol levels,” Fleseriu concluded.

  • Kristen Monaco is a staff writer, focusing on endocrinology, psychiatry, and dermatology news. Based out of the New York City office, she’s worked at the company for nearly five years.

Disclosures

The LINC3 and LINC4 trials were funded by Novartis.

Fleseriu reported relationships with Novartis, Recordati, and Strongbridge Biopharma.

Primary Source

American Association of Clinical Endocrinology

Source Reference: Fleseriu M, et al “Effect of dosing and titration of osilodrostat on efficacy and safety in patients with Cushing’s disease (CD): Results from two phase III trials (LINC3 and LINC4)” AACE 2021.

From https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/aace/92824?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2021-05-28&eun=g1406328d0r&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily Headlines Top Cat HeC 2021-05-28&utm_term=NL_Daily_DHE_dual-gmail-definition

Chronic Insomnia Can Be Sign of Cushing’s

Abstract

Background: Cushing’s syndrome is a condition caused by excessive glucocorticoid with insomnia as one of its neuropsychiatric manifestation. Cushing’s syndrome may be caused by excessive adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH-dependent), for example from ACTH producing pituitary tumors, or by overproduction of cortisol by adrenocortical tumors. In this report, we presented a case with Cushing’s syndrome manifesting as chronic insomnia with adrenal cortical adenoma and pituitary microadenoma.

Case presentation: A 30-year-old woman was consulted from the Neurologic Department to the Internal Medicine Department with the chief complaint of insomnia and worsening headache for 6 months prior to the admission. She had undergone head MRI and abdominal CT scan previously and was found to have both pituitary microadenoma and left adrenal mass. From the physical examination she had clinical signs of Cushing’s syndrome like Cushingoid face and purplish striae on her stomach. Midnight cortisol serum examination was done initially and showed high level of cortisol. High dose dexamethasone suppression test or DST (8 mg overnight) was later performed to help determine the main cause of Cushing’s syndrome. The result failed to reach 50% suppression of cortisol serum, suggestive that the Cushing’s syndrome was not ACTH-dependent from the pituitary but potentially from overproduction of cortisol by the left adrenal mass. Therefore, left adrenalectomy was performed and the histopathological study supported the diagnosis of adrenal cortical adenoma.

Conclusion: Chronic insomnia is a very important symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome that should not be neglected. The patient had both microadenoma pituitary and left adrenal mass thus high dose DST test (8 mg overnight) needed to be performed to differentiate the source of Cushing’s syndrome. The result showed only little suppression therefore the pituitary microadenoma was not the source of Cushing’s syndrome and more suggestive from the adrenal etiology.

Keywords: Cushing’s syndrome; insomnia; adrenal cortical adenoma; pituitary microadenoma; dexamethasone suppression test

Permalink/DOI: https://doi.org/10.14710/jbtr.v7i1.9247I

Read the entire article here: https://ejournal2.undip.ac.id/index.php/jbtr/article/view/9247/5440

Cushing’s Disease Caused by a Pituitary Microadenoma Coexistent with a Meningioma

Yu Wang, Zhixiang Sun, Zhiquan Jiang

Department of Neurosurgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Bengbu Medical College, Bengbu, Anhui, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence: Zhiquan Jiang
Department of Neurosurgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Bengbu Medical College, 287 Changhuai Road, Bengbu, Anhui 233004, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86-13966075971
Email bbjiangzhq@163.com

Abstract: Cushing’s disease (CD), also known as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-dependent pituitary Cushing’s syndrome, is a rare and serious chronic endocrine disease that is usually caused by a pituitary adenoma (especially a pituitary microadenoma). Meningioma is the most common type of primary intracranial tumor and is usually benign. The patient in this case report presented with CD coexisting with pituitary microadenoma and meningioma, which is an extremely rare comorbidity. The pathogenesis of CD associated with meningioma remains unclear. Here, we describe the case of bilateral lower extremity edema, lower limb pain, abdominal purplish striae, and abdominal distension for 9 months in a 47-year-old woman. Two years ago, the patient underwent a hysterectomy at a local hospital for hysteromyoma. She had no previous radiotherapeutic treatment or other medical history. Magnetic resonance imaging of her head revealed a sellar lesion (7.8 mm × 6.4 mm) and a spherical mass (3.0 cm × 3.0 cm) in the right frontal convexity. Her level of serum adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) was 169 pg/mL, and her cortisol levels were 933 nmol/mL and 778 nmol/mL at 8 am and 4 pm, respectively. Preoperatively, she was diagnosed with ACTH-secreting pituitary microadenoma and meningioma. Excision of the meningioma was performed through a craniotomy, while an endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal approach was used to remove the pituitary adenoma. Meningioma and pituitary adenoma were confirmed by postoperative pathology. On the basis of this unusual case, the relevant literature was reviewed to illustrate the diagnosis and treatment of Cushing’s disease and to explore the pathogenesis of pituitary adenoma associated with meningioma.

Keywords: Cushing’s disease, pituitary adenoma, meningioma

Introduction

Cushing’s disease (CD) is a severe condition caused by an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary tumor that accounts for approximately 70% of all cases of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. It has a total incidence of 1–2 cases per million per year and a prevalence rate of approximately 30 patients per million per year, making it an uncommon disease.1 Meningiomas account for 15–25% of all intracranial tumors, with an annual incidence of 6 cases per 100,000 persons.2 CD combined with meningioma is a rare condition, and even rarer in patients who have no previously known risk factors for either tumor. To the best of our knowledge, its pathogenesis have not been clearly described to date.

Case Presentation

Clinical History and Laboratory Findings

A 47-year-old woman was admitted to the endocrinology department of our hospital with chief complaints of bilateral lower extremity edema, left lower limb pain, abdominal purplish striae, and abdominal distension for 9 months. Two years ago, the patient had a hysterectomy at a local hospital for hysteromyoma. She had no previous radiotherapeutic treatment or other medical history. She weighed 90 kg and was 165 cm tall with a body mass index (BMI) of 33. Physical examination showed typical features of Cushing’s syndrome, including centripetal obesity, moon face, pedal edema, and buffalo hump. Her skin was thin and dry, with acne and hirsutism. On admission, her blood pressure was 146/115 mmHg and routine biochemical blood tests confirmed comorbidity with diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, and hypokalemia.

Endocrine measurements showed that her serum ACTH was 169 pg/mL (reference value: 5–50 pg/mL), cortisol (8 am) was 933 nmol/L (reference value: 138–690 nmol/L), and cortisol (4 pm) was 778 nmol/L (reference value: 69–345 nmol/L), indicating that her ACTH and cortisol levels were dramatically increased. Cortisol secretion was increased and had lost its circadian rhythm. The low-dose dexamethasone suppression test showed that cortisol suppression was < 50%, while a >50% suppression of cortisol was found in the high-dose dexamethasone suppression test. Serum prolactin, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, testosterone, free thyroid hormone (FT3 and FT4), and thyrotropin values were normal. Endocrinological evaluation suspected that pituitary lesions caused Cushing syndrome.

Imaging Analysis

The patient underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to image her head. T1-weighted MRI with contrast enhancement showed a spherical enhancing mass (3.0 cm × 3.0 cm) in the right frontal convexity and a dural tail sign (Figure 1A). In the sellar area, the enhancement degree of the lesion (7.8 mm × 6.4 mm) was significantly lower than that of the surrounding pituitary tissue, and the pituitary stalk was displaced to the right (Figure 1A and B). No abnormalities were found on plain or enhanced adrenal computed tomography scans.

Figure 1 Enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the patient’s head: (A) Coronal view of the gadolinium-enhanced T1-weighted image showing a spherical enhancing mass in the right frontal convexity and a dural tail sign. A round low-intensity lesion can be seen on the right side of the pituitary gland, and the pituitary stalk is displaced to the right. (B) Sagittal T1-weighted sequence with contrast showing the degree of enhancement is lower than that of the pituitary in the sellar region.

 

Treatment and Pathological Examination

Physical examination, endocrine examination, and head MRI successfully proved that pituitary microadenoma caused Cushing’s syndrome (specifically CD) comorbid with asymptomatic meningioma.

In order to receive surgical treatment, the patient was referred from the endocrinology department to neurosurgery. She underwent neuroendoscopic transsphenoidal surgery and the pituitary microadenoma was removed. The sellar floor was reconstructed with artificial dura mater, and after this reconstruction, no cerebrospinal fluid leakage was observed. The pathological specimen was examined and was determined to be consistent with a pituitary microadenoma (Figure 2A). One month later, excision of the meningioma was performed through a right frontal trephine craniotomy. Histological examination revealed a WHO grade I meningioma (Figure 2B).

Figure 2 (A) Histopathologic examination revealed a pituitary adenoma (Hematoxylin and eosin staining, 100×). (B) Histopathologic examination revealed a meningioma (Hematoxylin and eosin staining, 100×).

 

Outcome and Follow Up

On the second day after the operation, her cortisol level dropped below the normal range in the morning. Hydrocortisone replacement therapy was started on the same day. In addition, she had developed transient diabetes insipidus, which was treated with desmopressin. Three months postoperatively, after hydrocortisone replacement therapy, the symptoms of Cushing’s disease were alleviated, and the cortisol level returned to normal, which was 249nmol/L (reference value: 138~690nmol/L).

At the 1-year follow-up, no lesions were observed on the MRI scan and the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome were in remission. The use of hydrocortisone supplements were discontinued and hormone levels remained normal, indicating recovery of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. The patient had lost 30 kg and her BMI had dropped to 22, while her blood glucose, triglyceride level, and blood pressure had all returned to normal. Physical changes in the patient pre- and post-treatment are shown in Figure 3A and B.

Figure 3 Abdominal appearance with striae (A) preoperation and (B) 4 months postoperation.

 

Discussion

Cushing’s Disease

CD is a serious clinical condition caused by a pituitary adenoma secreting a high level of ACTH, leading to hypercortisolism. The proportion of ACTH-secreting pituitary adenomas (corresponding to CD) among hormone-secreting pituitary adenomas is 4.8%–10%, which affects women three times more frequently than men, mainly occurs in those 40–60 years old.3,4 Exposure to excessive cortisol can lead to various manifestations of Cushing’s syndrome and increases in morbidity and mortality.5 Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment of CD are very important.

The diagnosis and differential diagnosis of CD is very complicated, and these have always been challenging problems in clinical endocrinology. Once Cushing’s syndrome is diagnosed, its etiology should be determined. A diagnosis of Cushing’s disease is made based on a biochemical examination confirming the pituitary origin of the condition and exclude other sources (namely, ectopic ACTH secretion and adrenocortical tumors).3 High-dose dexamethasone suppression and corticotropin-releasing-hormone stimulation tests may be used to distinguish high-secretion sources of pituitary and ectopic ACTH. More than 90% of the pituitary adenomas that cause CD are microadenomas (≤10 mm in diameter), and 40% of the cases cannot be located by radiological examination.5 Examination with bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling (BIPSS) is necessary for CD patients in whom noninvasive biochemical and imaging examinations do not lead to a definitive diagnosis.6

The first-line treatment for CD is transsphenoidal selective tumor resection (TSS) with approximately 78% of the patients in remission after the operation, and 13% of patients relapse within 10 years after surgery. Therefore, there are a considerable number of patients who have experienced long-term surgical failure and require additional second-line treatment, such as radiotherapy, bilateral adrenalectomy, or medication.4

The pathogenesis of CD is unclear, but recent studies have confirmed that there are somatic activation mutations of multiple genes in adrenocorticotropin adenomas, while ubiquitin specific peptidase 8 (USP8) is the most common, accounting for about 50% of the mutations in these adenomas.7

Pituitary Adenoma Associated with Meningioma

Radiotherapy used to treat pituitary tumors is a well-known reason for the development of meningiomas. Gene mutations are a common molecular characteristic of meningiomas, with inactivation of the neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) tumor suppressor gene found in 55% of meningiomas, and a further 25% of meningiomas accounted for by recently described mutations in other genes.8

Simultaneous occurrence of pituitary adenoma and meningioma without a history of radiotherapy is a rare condition clinically, having only been described in 49 cases before 2019,9 while ACTH-secreting pituitary adenomas (CD) comorbid with meningioma have been reported even less frequently. In the reported cases, the most common site of meningioma is parasellar, accounting for 44.9%, while meningioma located in the distant part of the adenoma is rare.9,10

A number of clinicians have suggested that the coexistence of meningiomas and pituitary adenomas is incidental, with no relationship between the two diseases.2,11

Genetic imbalances have been found in pituitary adenomas, including in particular the chromosomal deletions of 1p, 2q, 4, 5, 6, 11q, 12q, 13q, and 18q, and the overexpression of 9q, 16p, 17p, 19, and 20q. Functional adenomas have more such imbalances than nonfunctional adenomas, corresponding in particular to deletions of chromosomes 4 and 18q, and the overexpression of chromosomes 17 and 19.12 Meanwhile, estrogen receptor positive de novo meningiomas significantly involve chromosomes 14 and 22.13

The study by Hwang et al14 reported that the expression levels of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) family proteins were significantly higher in pituitary adenomas and meningiomas than that in normal brain tissues. Leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein coupled receptor 5 (LGR5) and its downstream signaling pathways play an pivotal role in pituitary tumor, meningioma, and other brain tumors. Zhu et al15 reported that multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) plays an important role in pituitary adenoma associated with meningioma by upregulating the mammalian target of rapamycin signaling pathway. They found that rapamycin treatment promotes apoptosis in primary cells of the pituitary adenoma and meningioma in cases of pituitary adenoma associated with meningioma. Recurrence of pituitary adenoma, younger age, and larger size of meningioma have been shown to be significantly associated with MEN1 mutation.16

Mathuriya et al17 suggested that hormones may contribute to the occurrence of meningiomas.

de Vries et al9 reported that compared with other types of adenomas, the proportion of growth hormone adenomas is higher, accounting for about one third of cases. Meanwhile, Friend et al18 demonstrated that activation of GH/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) axis clearly increased the growth rate of meningiomas. However, in the present case, we observed the coexistence of ACTH-secreting adenoma and meningioma. Further studies are required to understand whether ACTH or cortisol are related to the occurrence and development of meningioma.

In our case, pituitary microadenoma was the cause of Cushing’s syndrome, while the meningioma was an incidental imaging observation. With the popularity and technological progress of high-resolution imaging technology, the reported prevalence of intracranial lesions related to dominant pathology has increased.2 However, when imaging examinations are limited to specific regions, the diagnosis of lesions in other locations is likely to be omitted. For example, in our case, performing MRI of the sellar region alone may have meant that the meningioma was missed.

Conclusion

Cushing’s disease is the most common cause of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome and is caused by ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma.It is associated with severe complications and reduced quality of life, so early diagnosis and treatment are critical. The coexistence of CD, pituitary adenoma, and meningioma is very rare, and the exact mechanisms underlying such comorbidity are currently unclear and need further study.

Data Sharing Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author, Zhiquan Jiang.

Ethics and Consent Statement

Based on the regulations of the department of research of the Bengbu Medical College, institutional review board approval is not required for case reports.

Consent for Publication

Written informed consent has been provided by the patient to have the case details and any accompanying images published.

Author Contributions

All authors made substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; took part in drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; agreed to submit to the current journal; gave final approval of the version to be published; and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

Funding

The authors declared that this case has received no financial support.

Disclosure

The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

References

1. Lacroix A, Feelders RA, Stratakis CA, Nieman LK. Cushing’s syndrome. Lancet. 2015;386(9996):913–927. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61375-1

2. Curto L, Squadrito S, Almoto B, et al. MRI finding of simultaneous coexistence of growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma with intracranial meningioma and carotid artery aneurysms: report of a case. Pituitary. 2007;10(3):299–305. doi:10.1007/s11102-007-0011-4

3. Mehta GU, Lonser RR. Management of hormone-secreting pituitary adenomas. Neuro Oncol. 2017;19(6):762–773. doi:10.1093/neuonc/now130

4. Pivonello R, De Leo M, Cozzolino A, Colao A. The treatment of Cushing’s disease. Endocr Rev. 2015;36(4):385–486. doi:10.1210/er.2013-1048

5. Tritos NA, Biller BMK. Current management of Cushing’s disease. J Intern Med. 2019;286(5):526–541. doi:10.1111/joim.12975

6. Fan C, Zhang C, Shi X, et al. Assessing the value of bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling in the diagnosis and treatment of a complex case of Cushing’s disease. Intractable Rare Dis Res. 2013;2(1):24–29. doi:10.5582/irdr.2013.v2.1.24

7. Sbiera S, Kunz M, Weigand I, Deutschbein T, Dandekar T, Fassnacht M. The new genetic landscape of Cushing’s disease: deubiquitinases in the spotlight. Cancers. 2019;11(11):1761. doi:10.3390/cancers11111761

8. Apra C, Peyre M, Kalamarides M. Current treatment options for meningioma. Expert Rev Neurother. 2018;18(3):241–249. doi:10.1080/14737175.2018.1429920

9. de Vries F, Lobatto DJ, Zamanipoor Najafabadi AH, et al. Unexpected concomitant pituitary adenoma and suprasellar meningioma: a case report and review of the literature. Br J Neurosurg. 2019:1–5. doi:10.1080/02688697.2018.1556782.

10. Gosal JS, Shukla K, Praneeth K, et al. Coexistent pituitary adenoma and frontal convexity meningioma with frontal sinus invasion: a rare association. Surg Neurol Int. 2020;11:270. doi:10.25259/SNI_164_2020

11. Cannavo S, Curto L, Fazio R, et al. Coexistence of growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma and intracranial meningioma: a case report and review of the literature. J Endocrinol Invest. 1993;16(9):703–708. doi:10.1007/BF03348915

12. Szymas J, Schluens K, Liebert W, Petersen I. Genomic instability in pituitary adenomas. Pituitary. 2002;5(4):211–219. doi:10.1023/a:1025313214951

13. Pravdenkova S, Al-Mefty O, Sawyer J, Husain M. Progesterone and estrogen receptors: opposing prognostic indicators in meningiomas. J Neurosurg. 2006;105(2):163–173. doi:10.3171/jns.2006.105.2.163

14. Hwang M, Han MH, Park HH, et al. LGR5 and downstream intracellular signaling proteins play critical roles in the cell proliferation of neuroblastoma, meningioma and pituitary adenoma. Exp Neurobiol. 2019;28(5):628–641. doi:10.5607/en.2019.28.5.628

15. Zhu H, Miao Y, Shen Y, et al. The clinical characteristics and molecular mechanism of pituitary adenoma associated with meningioma. J Transl Med. 2019;17(1):354. doi:10.1186/s12967-019-2103-0

16. Zhu H, Miao Y, Shen Y, et al. Germline mutations in MEN1 are associated with the tumorigenesis of pituitary adenoma associated with meningioma. Oncol Lett. 2020;20(1):561–568. doi:10.3892/ol.2020.11601

17. Mathuriya SN, Vasishta RK, Dash RJ, Kak VK. Pituitary adenoma and parasagittal meningioma: an unusual association. Neurol India. 2000;48(1):72.

18. Friend KE, Radinsky R, McCutcheon IE. Growth hormone receptor expression and function in meningiomas: effect of a specific receptor antagonist. J Neurosurg. 1999;91(1):93–99. doi:10.3171/jns.1999.91.1.0093

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Psychotropic drugs in patients with Cushing’s disease before diagnosis and at long-term follow-up

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, dgab079, https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgab079

Abstract

Context

Psychiatric symptoms are common in Cushing’s disease (CD) and seem only partly reversible following treatment.

Objective

To investigate drug dispenses associated to psychiatric morbidity in CD patients before treatment and during long-term follow-up.

Design

Nationwide longitudinal register-based study.

Setting

University Hospitals in Sweden.

Subjects

CD patients diagnosed between 1990 and 2018 (N=372) were identified in the Swedish Pituitary Register. Longitudinal data was collected from 5 years before, at diagnosis and during follow-up. Four matched controls per patient were included. Cross-sectional subgroup analysis of 76 patients in sustained remission was also performed.

Main outcome measures

Data from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register and the Patient Register.

Results

In the 5-year period before, and at diagnosis, use of antidepressants (OR 2.2[95%CI 1.3-3.7] and 2.3[1.6-3.5]), anxiolytics (2.9[1.6-5.3] and 3.9[2.3-6.6]) and sleeping pills (2.1[1.2-3.7] and 3.8[2.4-5.9]) was more common in CD than controls. ORs remained elevated at 5-year follow-up for antidepressants (2.4[1.5-3.9]) and sleeping pills (3.1[1.9-5.3]). Proportions of CD patients using antidepressants (26%) and sleeping pills (22%) were unchanged at diagnosis and 5-year follow-up, whereas drugs for hypertension and diabetes decreased. Patients in sustained remission for median 9.3 years (IQR 8.1-10.4) had higher use of antidepressants (OR 2.0[1.1-3.8]) and sleeping pills (2.4[1.3-4.7]), but not of drugs for hypertension.

Conclusions

Increased use of psychotropic drugs in CD was observed before diagnosis and remained elevated regardless of remission status, suggesting persisting negative effects on mental health. The study highlights the importance of early diagnosis of CD, and the need for long-term monitoring of mental health.

COVID-19 May Be Severe in Cushing’s Patients

A young healthcare worker who contracted COVID-19 shortly after being diagnosed with Cushing’s disease was detailed in a case report from Japan.

While the woman was successfully treated for both conditions, Cushing’s may worsen a COVID-19 infection. Prompt treatment and multidisciplinary care is required for Cushing’s patients who get COVID-19, its researchers said.

The report, “Successful management of a patient with active Cushing’s disease complicated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia,” was published in Endocrine Journal.

Cushing’s disease is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland, which results in abnormally high levels of the stress hormone cortisol (hypercortisolism). Since COVID-19 is still a fairly new disease, and Cushing’s is rare, there is scant data on how COVID-19 tends to affect Cushing’s patients.

In the report, researchers described the case of a 27-year-old Japanese female healthcare worker with active Cushing’s disease who contracted COVID-19.

The patient had a six-year-long history of amenorrhea (missed periods) and dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in the body). She had also experienced weight gain, a rounding face, and acne.

After transferring to a new workplace, the woman visited a new gynecologist, who checked her hormonal status. Abnormal findings prompted a visit to the endocrinology department.

Clinical examination revealed features indicative of Cushing’s syndrome, such as a round face with acne, central obesity, and buffalo hump. Laboratory testing confirmed hypercortisolism, and MRI revealed a tumor in the patient’s pituitary gland.

She was scheduled for surgery to remove the tumor, and treated with metyrapone, a medication that can decrease cortisol production in the body. Shortly thereafter, she had close contact with a patient she was helping to care for, who was infected with COVID-19 but not yet diagnosed.

A few days later, the woman experienced a fever, nausea, and headache. These persisted for a few days, and then she started having difficulty breathing. Imaging of her lungs revealed a fluid buildup (pneumonia), and a test for SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — came back positive.

A week after symptoms developed, the patient required supplemental oxygen. Her condition worsened 10 days later, and laboratory tests were indicative of increased inflammation.

To control the patient’s Cushing’s disease, she was treated with increasing doses of metyrapone and similar medications to decrease cortisol production; she was also administered cortisol — this “block and replace” approach aims to maintain cortisol levels within the normal range.

The patient experienced metyrapone side effects that included stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, swelling, increased acne, and hypokalemia (low potassium levels).

She was given antiviral therapies (e.g., favipiravir) to help manage the COVID-19. Additional medications to prevent opportunistic fungal infections were also administered.

From the next day onward, her symptoms eased, and the woman was eventually discharged from the hospital. A month after being discharged, she tested negative for SARS-CoV-2.

Surgery for the pituitary tumor was then again possible. Appropriate safeguards were put in place to protect the medical team caring for her from infection, during and after the surgery.

The patient didn’t have any noteworthy complications from the surgery, and her cortisol levels soon dropped to within normal limits. She was considered to be in remission.

Although broad conclusions cannot be reliably drawn from a single case, the researchers suggested that the patient’s underlying Cushing’s disease may have made her more susceptible to severe pneumonia due to COVID-19.

“Since hypercortisolism due to active Cushing’s disease may enhance the severity of COVID-19 infection, it is necessary to provide appropriate, multidisciplinary and prompt treatment,” the researchers wrote.

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2021/01/15/covid-19-may-be-severe-cushings-patients-case-report-suggests/?cn-reloaded=1

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