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.

Cushing’s Syndrome

The Seven Dwarves of Cushing's

 

Posted Oct. 1st, 2015 by

Q: Would you please explain Cushing’s disease. How is it diagnosed? What are the symptoms?

A: Cushing syndrome results from excess levels of the hormone cortisol. It is produced in various glands, usually the adrenal that is situated above the kidneys on both sides, and the pituitary gland, which is in the centre of the brain.

Cortisol also regulates the way fats, carbohydrates and proteins are turned into usable forms of energy. These glands produce other hormones that affect things such as blood pressure and the body’s response to stress.

Cortisol may be added from outside the body by taking medications such as prednisone, often used for the control of chronic inflammatory or autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Prednisone is also used for the treatment of acute illnesses such as severe allergies. Poison ivy is often treated this way.

Women in the last three months of pregnancy also have increased blood levels of cortisol and may temporarily display some of symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome.

Any problem with the pituitary gland, the nearby hypothalamus in the brain or adrenals can lead to Cushing’s syndrome. The most common is a benign tumour of the pituitary gland known as a pituitary adenoma.

This type of tumour may produce an excessive amount of a stimulating hormone known as ACTH, which in turn activates the hormones in the adrenal glands. On rare occasions, some types of lung or thyroid cancer can also behave in a similar way.

The most obvious sign of Cushing’s disease is marked weight gain, mostly in the abdomen, face and neck, while the arms and legs remain relatively thin.

As the skin in these areas becomes thinner, there may be purple coloured stripes or stretch marks. Women may also lose their periods and grow facial or body hair.

Blood pressure is usually high and sufferers feel weak and tired.

Cushing’s disease is diagnosed by measuring the amount of cortisol in a person’s urine during a 24 hour period.

If there is a tumour it will require surgical removal. If Cushing’s syndrome is a result of prescribed medication, the dosage can be reduced gradually or another type of medication can be tried. Prednisone must never be suddenly discontinued or the person’s blood pressure could drop dramatically, which could be serious and potentially fatal.

Clare Rowson is a retired medical doctor in Belleville, Ont. Contact: health@producer.com

From http://www.producer.com/2015/10/cushings-syndrome/

Hair Analysis Provides a Historical Record of Cortisol Levels in Cushing’s Syndrome

Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Sep 24.
Published in final edited form as:
PMCID: PMC2945912
NIHMSID: NIHMS235640
Hair Analysis Provides a Historical Record of Cortisol Levels in Cushing’s Syndrome

Abstract

The severity of Cushing’s Syndrome (CS) depends on the duration and extent of the exposure to excess glucocorticoids. Current measurements of cortisol in serum, saliva and urine reflect systemic cortisol levels at the time of sample collection, but cannot assess past cortisol levels. Hair cortisol levels may be increased in patients with CS, and, as hair grows about 1 cm/month, measurement of hair cortisol may provide historical information on the development of hypercortisolism.

We attempted to measure cortisol in hair in relation to clinical course in six female patients with CS and in 32 healthy volunteers in 1 cm hair sections. Hair cortisol content was measured using a commercially available salivary cortisol immune assay with a protocol modified for use with hair.

Hair cortisol levels were higher in patients with CS than in controls, the medians (ranges) were 679 (279–2500) and 116 (26–204) ng/g respectively (P <0.001). Segmental hair analysis provided information for up to 18 months before time of sampling. Hair cortisol concentrations appeared to vary in accordance with the clinical course.

Based on these data, we suggest that hair cortisol measurement is a novel method for assessing dynamic systemic cortisol exposure and provides unique historical information on variation in cortisol, and that more research is required to fully understand the utility and limits of this technique.

Keywords: glucocorticoids, pituitary adenoma, cancer, adrenal gland, hormones, cushing hair

Higher Cortisol Levels Found in Hair of Patients With Adrenal Insufficiency Using Hydrocortisone

Patients on hydrocortisone replacement for adrenal insufficiency appear to have elevated cortisol concentrations in their scalp hair, according to recent findings.

In the cross-sectional study, Nienke R. Biermasz, MD, PhD, of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues evaluated patients treated at the outpatient clinical of the medical center between July 2012 and January 2014. Participants included 132 adults with primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency being treated with hydrocortisone (group 1) and 42 controls with a pituitary disease receiving hydrocortisone (group 2). A third group of 195 healthy controls were also included in the analysis.

The researchers collected locks of roughly 150 hairs cut as close to the scalp as possible. The most proximal 3 cm of hair were used in the analysis to correlate with the most recent 3 months. The researchers extracted cortisol from the hair and used ELISA to measure cortisol concentration.

The researchers found that compared with healthy controls and group 2, group 1 had a higher hair cortisol concentration (P < .001) and hair cortisol concentration was associated with hydrocortisone dose (P = .04).

Male participants in group 1 had higher hair cortisol concentrations compared with women in the group (P < .001).

Compared with healthy controls, group 1 had a higher mean BMI (P < .001) and BMI was associated with hair cortisol concentration in the overall sample. The association between hair cortisol concentration and BMI was especially strong in men.

According to the researchers, further studies are needed to better understand the sex-specific associations between hair cortisol concentrations and hydrocortisone use in this population.

“Intriguingly, this gender effect seems to be specific for hydrocortisone use, since it is not present in controls with an intact [hyptothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis],” the researchers wrote. “In female patients, higher self-reported hydrocortisone intake was associated with higher [hair cortisol concentration], whereas this association was not found in male patients who demonstrated on average higher [hair cortisol concentration] even in the lower dose range.” – by Jennifer Byrne

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

From http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/adrenal/news/online/%7B1d2660eb-3f68-4302-94b2-321f73a4ee89%7D/higher-cortisol-levels-found-in-hair-of-patients-with-adrenal-insufficiency-using-hydrocortisone

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