Scalp Hair Cortisol Accurate in Cushing’s Syndrome Diagnosis

Scalp hair cortisol measurement is an accurate first-line diagnostic test for Cushing’s syndrome in adults and offers several advantages over other first-line diagnostic procedures, according to findings published in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

“[Hair cortisol content] has practical advantages over currently used diagnostic tests, since sample collection can easily be performed in an outpatient setting and is not dependent on patient adherence to sampling instructions,” Elisabeth F. C. van Rossum, MD, PhD, professor at Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and colleagues wrote. “Furthermore, [hair cortisol content] measurement offers retrospective information about cortisol levels over months of time in a single measurement, thereby potentially circumventing the limitations posed by the variability in cortisol secretion in endogenous [Cushing’s syndrome].”

Van Rossum and colleagues analyzed data from 43 patients with confirmed endogenous Cushing’s syndrome and 35 patients with suspected Cushing’s syndrome in whom diagnosis was excluded after testing (patient controls), all evaluated between 2009 and 2016 at an endocrinology outpatient clinic at Erasmus MC. Adults from a previously published validation study served as healthy controls (n = 174). Researchers measured scalp hair samples, 24-hour urinary free cortisol, serum cortisol and salivary cortisol, and used Pearson’s correlation to determine associations between hair cortisol content and first-line screening tests for Cushing’s syndrome.

Hair cortisol content was highest in patients with Cushing’s syndrome (geometric mean, 106.9 pg/mg; 95% CI, 77.1-147.9) and higher compared with both healthy controls (mean, 8.4 pg/mg; 95% CI, 7-10) and patient controls (mean, 12.7 pg/mg; 95% CI, 8.6-18.6). Using healthy controls as the reference population, researchers found that the optimal cutoff for diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome via hair cortisol content was 31.1 pg/mg; sensitivity and specificity were 93% and 90%, respectively (area under the curve = 0.958). Results were similar when using patient controls as the reference population, according to the researchers.

Hair cortisol content was correlated with urinary free cortisol (P < .001), serum cortisol (P < .001) and late-night salivary cortisol (P < .001). In addition, in two patients with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome, researchers observed a gradual rise in hair cortisol content in the 3 to 6 months before disease diagnosis.

“Together with a straightforward sample collection procedure, this method may prove to be a convenient noninvasive screening test for [Cushing’s syndrome],” the researchers wrote. “Additionally, our results indicate that hair cortisol measurements provide clinicians a tool to retrospectively assess cortisol secretion in patients with [Cushing’s syndrome], months to years back in time. This also offers the opportunity to estimate the onset of hypercortisolism and thus the duration of the disease before diagnosis.” – by Regina Schaffer

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

From http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/adrenal/news/in-the-journals/%7B72da0183-e1a8-48cb-a1fd-332c7999beb5%7D/scalp-hair-cortisol-accurate-in-cushings-syndrome-diagnosis

Hair Test for Cushing Syndrome?

Cortisol levels in hair correlated strongly with standard tests

by Jeff Minerd
Contributing Writer, MedPage Today

Analyzing the levels of cortisol in hair may aid in the diagnosis of Cushing syndrome, perhaps one day replacing invasive blood tests, scientists said.

Cortisol levels in the proximal ends of hair samples taken from patients with the syndrome correlated strongly with blood tests (R=0.4; P=0.03) and urine tests (R=0.5; P=0.005) for cortisol, reported Mihail Zilbermint, MD, of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues.

“The diagnosis of Cushing syndrome is often challenging and inconclusive, despite numerous tests used for the detection of hypercortisolemia and its origin, and is associated with high morbidity and high risk for mortality, if undiagnosed and untreated,” Zilbermint and colleagues wrote online in Endocrine: International Journal of Basic and Clinical Endocrinology.

“As a potential solution to the limitations of these tests, hair cortisol has been increasingly studied as an additional means to diagnose patients with Cushing Syndrome. Much like hemoglobin A1C is a longitudinal marker of blood glucose levels, hair cortisol can be a measure of the body’s glucocorticoid levels over the previous several weeks to months.”

“Our results are encouraging,” Zilbermint said in a statement. “We are hopeful that hair analysis may ultimately prove useful as a less-invasive screening test for Cushing syndrome or in helping to confirm the diagnosis.”

The study included 30 patients with Cushing syndrome and six control individuals without the disease. The participants’ average age was 26, and 75% were female and 75% were Caucasian.

The investigators took 3 cm-long hair samples from all patients, analyzed the proximal, medial, and distal segments of the samples for cortisol, and compared the results with results of standard blood and urine tests. Cortisol levels were highest in the proximal segments and correlated best with the standard tests, the investigators reported.

“We found that proximal hair cortisol directly correlates with late night serum cortisol and UFC [urinary free cortisol] in patients with and without Cushing syndrome. The most proximal 1 cm of hair was the best section of hair for stratifying the two groups of patients in our cohort.

“These findings support further research on the use of this modality in the workup for Cushing syndrome.”

Regarding the study’s limitations, the team pointed to the small control group of only six patients. Another limitation is that more than half of the participants (58%) were younger than age 18, and pubertal status on cortisol metabolism may be a factor in hair cortisol measurement.

“However, our study’s strengths are that it is the largest sample so far to analyze segmental hair cortisol in Cushing syndrome, and that it is the largest study to compare hair cortisol to any biochemical test for hypercortisolemia in patients with Cushing syndrome,” Zilbermint and colleagues said. “Our study also included a large cohort of Cushing Disease patients, which has been under-represented in prior studies on hair cortisol.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Zilbermint and colleagues reported having no relevant financial relationships with industry.

Metabolomic Biomarkers in Urine of Cushing’s Syndrome Patients

Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(2), 294; doi:10.3390/ijms18020294 (registering DOI)
Department of Food Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, Medical University of Gdańsk, Al. Gen. J. Hallera 107, 80-416 Gdańsk, Poland
Laboratory of Environmental Chemometrics, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Gdańsk, ul. Wita Stwosza 63, 80-308 Gdańsk, Poland
Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine, Medical University of Gdańsk, ul. Dębinki 7, 80-211 Gdańsk, Poland
Department ofEnvironmental Analytics, Institute for Environmental and Human Health Protection, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Gdańsk, ul. Wita Stwosza 63, 80-308 Gdańsk, Poland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ting-Li (Morgan) Han
Received: 5 December 2016 / Revised: 9 January 2017 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 29 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Diagnostics)
Download PDF [1853 KB, uploaded 29 January 2017]

Abstract

Cushing’s syndrome (CS) is a disease which results from excessive levels of cortisol in the human body. The disorder is associated with various signs and symptoms which are also common for the general population not suffering from compound hypersecretion. Thus, more sensitive and selective methods are required for the diagnosis of CS.

This follow-up study was conducted to determine which steroid metabolites could serve as potential indicators of CS and possible subclinical hypercortisolism in patients diagnosed with so called non-functioning adrenal incidentalomas (AIs).

Urine samples from negative controls (n = 37), patients with CS characterized by hypercortisolism and excluding iatrogenic CS (n = 16), and patients with non-functioning AIs with possible subclinical Cushing’s syndrome (n = 25) were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and gas chromatograph equipped with flame ionization detector (GC/FID). Statistical and multivariate methods were applied to investigate the profile differences between examined individuals. The analyses revealed hormonal differences between patients with CS and the rest of examined individuals.

The concentrations of selected metabolites of cortisol, androgens, and pregnenetriol were elevated whereas the levels of tetrahydrocortisone were decreased for CS when opposed to the rest of the study population. Moreover, after analysis of potential confounding factors, it was also possible to distinguish six steroid hormones which discriminated CS patients from other study subjects.

The obtained discriminant functions enabled classification of CS patients and AI group characterized by mild hypersecretion of cortisol metabolites. It can be concluded that steroid hormones selected by applying urinary profiling may serve the role of potential biomarkers of CS and can aid in its early diagnosis.

 

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material

From http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/18/2/294

Topical Ocular Glucocorticoid Leads to Cushing’s Syndrome in 9-Year-Old

In a case report published online January 19 in Pediatrics, iatrogenic Cushing’s syndrome (CS) is described in a 9-year-old girl who received topical ocular glucocorticoid (GC) treatment for bilateral iridocyclitis.

Daisuke Fukuhara, MD, PhD, from the Kyorin University School of Medicine in Mitaka, Japan, and colleagues present the case of a 9-year-old girl suffering from idiopathic uveitis. She arrived at the ophthalmology department with a complaint of painful eyes, and was diagnosed with bilateral iridocyclitis and started on betamethasone sodium phosphate eye drop treatment.

The authors note that the patient was referred to the pediatric department with stunted growth, truncal obesity, purple skin striae, buffalo hump, and moon face six months after initiation of topical ocular GC treatment. She was diagnosed with iatrogenic CS as her serum cortisol and plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone levels were undetectable. The clinical symptoms of CS were improved after the doses of topical ocular GC were reduced. On genetic analysis, the patient was found to have a single heterozygous nucleotide substitution in the 3′ untranslated region of the NR3C1 gene.

“However, additional investigations are required to determine if our findings can be extrapolated to other patients,” the authors write. “In conclusion, clinicians should be aware that even extremely low doses of topical ocular steroid therapy can cause iatrogenic CS.”

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

From http://www.empr.com/news/iatrogenic-cushings-syndrome-topical-ocular-glucocorticoid-iridocyclitis/article/632840/

Some Lifestyle Tips for Cushing’s Syndrome

There are some ideas in the post below and some at http://www.cushings-info.com/index.php?title=Help_Yourself,_Part_1 (and also parts 2 and 3!)

Do you have any other helpful tips for the New Year?

Below is from https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/cushings-syndrome/4-lifestyle-tips-cushings-syndrome

As part of your overall Cushing’s syndrome treatment plan, there are some lifestyle tips you can incorporate to help you live well with Cushing’s syndrome.

Below are 4 lifestyle tips you can integrate into your recovery plan from Cushing’s syndrome. Have a conversation with your doctor before making any major changes, such as starting to exercise regularly.

  1. Eat smart. Make sure you’re eating nutritious foods. Of course, you should focus on eating fruits and vegetables, which are high in anti-oxidants, but also eat whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. These foods fuel your body by giving you healthy doses of energy.

    Also, be sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. These nutrients help strengthen bones (important because bone loss is common with people who have Cushing’s syndrome). If you don’t get enough of these in your diet, talk to your doctor about taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.

    A registered dietitian (RD) can help you create a balanced meal plan—the key word here is “balanced.” Yes, you can still eat the foods you love (in moderation), but it’s important to eat foods that boost your health. An RD can also help you lose extra weight you gained from Cushing’s syndrome.

  2. Exercise gently. Exercise plays a significant role in any healthy lifestyle, but it’s important for you not to rush into it. Even if you think you’re feeling better, your body still needs time to heal.

    Start off slowly-you may want to try low—impact exercise, such as water aerobics, tai chi, or yoga. These exercises gently re-build your muscles and joints. From there, you can work up to a more moderate-paced exercise routine. You can also work with a personal trainer who can customize a workout plan for you.

    Exercising should be comfortable. If you experience pain or any new symptoms when exercising, talk to your doctor right away.

  3. Keep tabs on your mental health. Your mental health can take a toll when you have Cushing’s syndrome—depression is common. If you feel blue or you don’t feel like doing the things you used to and you’re not sure why, don’t ignore it. Talk to your doctor—he or she can recommend a psychologist who can help you cope with your feelings throughout your recovery.

    You may also want to keep a journal to record how you feel on a day-to-day basis.

  4. Give yourself a break. Don’t be hard on yourself as your body recovers from Cushing’s syndrome. It’s important to get plenty of rest, relaxation, and sleep. Treat yourself to a gentle massage, warm bubble bath, or listen to soothing music. Now’s not the time to push yourself—respect your body and its limits.

Incorporating these lifestyle tips into your routine can not only help you live well, but they can help you thrive with Cushing’s syndrome.

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