Medical therapy ‘reasonable option’ vs. surgery in Cushing’s disease

In a large percentage of patients with Cushing’s disease, medical therapy effectively induces cortisol normalization, suggesting the choice may serve as a useful first-line treatment vs. surgery for some, according to findings from a systematic review and meta-analysis published in Pituitary.

Cushing’s syndrome is generally approached by removal of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing tumor in ectopic disease and by adrenalectomy in ACTH-independent disease, Leonie H. A. Broersen, MD, of the department of medicine at Leiden University Medical Centre in Leiden, Netherlands, wrote in the study background. However, medical therapy can be used to control cortisol secretion preoperatively and as a “bridge” until control of hypercortisolism is achieved by radiotherapy, whereas use of medical therapy as a first-line treatment is increasing, they noted.

“Medical treatment is a reasonable treatment option for Cushing’s disease patients in case of a contraindication for surgery, a recurrence, or in patients choosing not to have surgery,” Broersen told Endocrine Today. “In case of side effects or no treatment effect, an alternate medical therapy or combination therapy can be considered.”

Broersen and colleagues analyzed data from 35 studies with 1,520 patients reporting on six medical therapies for Cushing’s disease, including studies assessing pasireotide (n = 2; Signifor LAR, Novartis), mitotane (n = 5; Lysodren, Bristol-Myers Squibb), cabergoline (n = 3), ketoconazole (n = 8), metyrapone (n = 5; Metopirone, HRA Pharma), mifepristone (n = 2; Korlym, Corcept Therapeutics) and multiple medical agents (n = 10), all published between 1971 and 2017. Studies included 11 single-arm trials, two randomized controlled trials with two treatment arms, and 22 cohort studies. In 28 studies, normalization of cortisol was measured by urinary free cortisol, midnight salivary cortisol or a low-dose dexamethasone test, with 25 studies reporting on clinical improvement and three studies reporting on quality of life.

Across studies, medical treatment was effective in normalizing cortisol levels in Cushing’s disease in 35.7% (cabergoline) to 81.8% (mitotane) of patients, according to the researchers. In seven studies reporting data separately for medical therapy as primary (n = 4) or secondary therapy (n = 5), researchers found medication as primary therapy normalized cortisol levels in 58.1% of patients (95% CI, 49.7-66.2), similar to the effect of medication as a secondary therapy (57.8%; 95% CI, 41.3-73.6). In studies in which at least 80% of patients with Cushing’s disease were pretreated with medication before surgery, researchers observed a preoperative normalization of cortisol levels in 32.3% of patients (95% CI, 20-45.8). Patients using medical monotherapy experienced a lower percentage of cortisol normalization vs. patients using multiple agents (49.4% vs. 65.7%), according to researchers, with normalization rates higher among patients with concurrent or previous radiotherapy.

Across studies, 39.9% of patients experienced mild adverse effects, and 15.2% experienced severe adverse effects.

“Importantly, medical agents for hypercortisolism can cause severe side effects, leading to therapy adjustment or withdrawal in 4.8% (cabergoline) to 28.4% (mitotane) of patients,” the researchers wrote. “These results suggest that medical therapy can be considered a reasonable treatment alternative to the first-choice surgical treatment when regarding treatment effectiveness and side effects.” – by Regina Schaffer

For more information: Leonie H. A. Broersen, MD, can be reached at l.h.aA.broersen@lumc.nl.

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

From https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/neuroendocrinology/news/in-the-journals/%7B294187ce-3f5e-4d3f-b02e-5023515c3b0b%7D/medical-therapy-reasonable-option-vs-surgery-in-cushings-disease

Temozolomide May Partially Improve Aggressive Pituitary Tumors Causing Cushing’s Disease

The chemotherapy temozolomide partially improved a case of an aggressive pituitary tumor that caused symptoms of Cushing’s disease (CD), according to a new study in Poland. However, after tumor mass and cortisol levels were stabilized for a few months, the patient experienced rapid progression, suggesting that new methods for extending the effects of temozolomide are needed.

The study, “Temozolomide therapy for aggressive pituitary Crooke’s cells corticotropinoma causing Cushing’s Disease: A case report with literature review,” appeared in the journal Endokrynologia Polska.

Aggressive pituitary tumors are usually invasive macroadenomas, or benign tumors larger than 10 mm.

A very rare subset of pituitary adenoma — particularly corticotropinoma, or tumors with excessive secretion of corticotropin (ACTH) — exhibit Crooke’s cells. These tumors are highly invasive, have a high recurrence rate, and are often resistant to treatment.

Information is not widely available about the effectiveness of treating aggressive pituitary tumors, particularly those that cause Cushing’s disease. The management of these tumors usually requires neurosurgery, followed by radiotherapy, and pharmacotherapy. However, the chemotherapy medication temozolomide has been increasingly used as a first-line treatment after initial evidence of its effectiveness in treating glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer.

In this study, researchers at the Jagiellonian University, in Poland, discussed the case of a 61-year-old man with ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome caused by Crooke’s cell corticotropinoma.

The patient first presented with symptoms of severe hypercorticoidism — the excessive secretion of steroid hormones from the adrenal cortex — in December 2011. He also showed advanced heart failure, severe headaches, and impaired vision, which had started two or three years before diagnosis. Examinations revealed osteoporosis and a fracture in the Th5 vertebra.

His morning ACTH levels were high. The same was observed for mean cortisol levels even after dexamethasone treatment, which was suggestive of a pituitary tumor secreting ACTH. MRIs showed the existence of a tumor mass, later identified as a macroadenoma with high cell polymorphism, the presence of Crooke’s cells, and ACTH secretion.

The patient was referred for transsphenoidal nonradical neurosurgery, performed through the nose and the sphenoid sinus, and bilateral adrenalectomy, or the surgical removal of the adrenal glands, in 2012-2013. However, he developed fast, postoperative recurrence of hypercorticoidism and tumor regrowth. This led to three additional transsphenoidal neurosurgeries and radiotherapy.

The patient’s clinical status worsened as he developed severe cardiac insufficiency. Doctors began temozolomide treatment in April 2015, which did not result in adverse effects throughout treatment.

The initial standard dose (150–200 mg/m2) was given once daily in the morning for five consecutive days, in a 28-day cycle. The patient also received 600 mg of ketoconazole, an antifungal medication. Ondansetron was administered to prevent nausea and vomiting.

Subsequent examinations revealed clinical and biochemical improvements, including a reduction in ACTH and cortisol levels. In addition, the patient also showed reduced cardiac insufficiency, less frequent and less severe headaches, visual field improvements, and better physical fitness and mood.

However, clinical symptoms worsened after the eighth temozolomide cycle. The tumor size also suddenly increased after the ninth cycle, reaching the inner ear. Temozolomide was then discontinued and ACTH levels increased by 28 percent one month later. The patient also demonstrated deteriorated vision, hearing loss, and strong headaches.

Clinicians then decided to start treatment with the Cushing’s disease therapy Signifor (pasireotide), but a worsening of diabetes was observed, and the patient died in February 2016.

“The most probable reason for death was compression of the brainstem, which had been observed in the last MRI of the pituitary,” the researchers wrote, adding that “due to the very short duration of treatment, any conclusions on the treatment with Signifor cannot be drawn.”

Overall, “the results of the presented case suggest that [temozolomide] treatment monotherapy could have only partial response in aggressive corticotroph adenoma causing Cushing’s disease, followed by sudden progression,” the investigators wrote. This contrasts with mostly responsive cases reported in research literature, they noted.

“Therefore, further research on the factors of responsiveness and on novel methods to extend the duration of the effect of [temozolomide] should be carried out,” they wrote.

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/02/08/cushings-disease-case-study-poland-shows-temozolomide-temporarily-effective-treating-aggressive-pituitary-tumor/

Common Cushing’s Treatment, Somatostatin Analogs, May Sometimes Worsen Disease Course

Doctors often prescribe somatostatin analogs to manage the hormonal imbalance that characterizes Cushing’s syndrome. However, in rare situations these medicines have paradoxically made patients worse than better.

This recently happened with a 48-year-old Spanish woman whose Cushing’s syndrome was caused by an adrenal gland tumor that was producing excess adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Her case was recently reported in the study “Ectopic Cushing’s syndrome: Paradoxical effect of somatostatin analogs,” and published in the journal Endocrinología, Diabetes y Nutrición.

Cushing’s syndrome occurs when the body produces too much cortisol. This can happen for many reasons, including an oversupply of ACTH, the hormone responsible for cortisol production, due to a tumor in the pituitary gland.

But sometimes, tumors growing elsewhere can also produce ACTH. This feature, known as ectopic ACTH secretion (EAS), may also cause ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome.

Two-thirds of EAS tumors are located in the thorax, and 8 to 15 percent are in the abdominal cavity. Only 5 percent of EAS tumors are located in the adrenal gland, and up to 15 percent of EAS tumors are never detected.

Doctors usually use cortisol synthesis inhibitors such as ketoconazole or Metopirone (metyrapone) to control EAS, due to their efficacy and safety profiles. But somatostatin analogs (SSAs) such as Somatuline (lanreotide) have also been used to treat these tumors. However, these drugs produce mixed results.

The woman in the case study, reported by researchers at the University Hospital Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona, Spain, had an EAS tumor on the adrenal gland. She experienced s life-threatening cortisol and ACTH increase after receiving high-dose Somatuline.

The patient had been recently diagnosed with hypertension, and complained of intense fatigue, muscular weakness, easy bruising and an absence of menstruation. Laboratory analysis revealed that she had triple the normal levels of free cortisol in the urine, elevated levels of plasma cortisol, and high ACTH levels. In addition, her cortisol levels remained unchanged after receiving dexamethasone. The patient was therefore diagnosed with ACTH-dependent Cushing syndrome.

To determine the origin of her high cortisol levels, the team conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They found no tumors on the most common places, including the pituitary gland, neck, thorax or abdomen. However, additional evaluation detected a small alteration on the left adrenal gland, suggesting that was the source of ectopic ACTH production.

The team initiated treatment with 120 mg of Somatuline, but a week later, her condition had worsened and become life-threatening. Doctors started Ketoconazole treatment immediately, three times daily. The affected adrenal gland was surgically removed, and tissue analysis confirmed the diagnosis. The patient’s clinical condition improved significantly over the follow-up period.

“We highlight the need to be aware of this rare presentation of EAS, and we remark the difficulties of EAS diagnosis and treatment,”  researchers wrote.

The team could not rule out the possibility that the patient’s clinical development was due to the natural course of the disease. However, they believe “she had a paradoxical response on the basis of her dramatical worsening just after the SSAs administration, associated to an important rise in ACTH and UFC levels.”

For that reason, researchers think a new version of SSAs, such as Signifor (pasireotide) — which has improved receptor affinity — could provide better therapeutic response.

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2017/11/09/paradoxical-effects-of-somatostatin-analogs-on-adrenal-ectopic-acth-tumor/

Long-acting Signifor Has Similar Safety Profiles as Twice-daily Treatment in Cushing’s Patients, Trial Showed

A long-acting, once-a-month treatment of Signifor (pasireotide) normalized cortisol levels in 40% of patients with Cushing’s disease whose disease had recurred after surgery, or who were not candidates for surgery, according to new data from a Phase 3 trial.

The safety profiles of the once-monthly regimen proved to be similar to standard twice-daily Signifor treatments, researchers found.

The study, “Efficacy and safety of once-monthly pasireotide in Cushing’s disease: a 12 month clinical trial,” was published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Novartis‘ Signifor in its twice-daily injection formulation has already been approved for treating Cushing’s in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The 12-month, Phase 3 trial (NCT01374906) was conducted at 57 sites in 19 countries. The study included 150 patients with Cushing’s whose cortisol levels had risen or not dropped at all after surgery, or who were unable to undergo surgery.

Between Dec. 28, 2011, and Dec. 9, 2014, participants were randomized to receive either 10 mg or 30 mg of Signifor every four weeks, via an injection to the muscle. If, after four months of therapy, cortisol urinary levels (mUFC) were 50% greater than the upper normal limit, the dose could be increased from 10 mg to 30 mg, or from 30 mg to 40 mg. It could also be increased after seven, nine, or 12 months if the mUFC concentration was greater than normal.

The goal was to normalize average concentrations of free cortisol in the urine to less than or equal to the upper normal limit at month seven. It was met by 31 of the 74 patients in the 10 mg group (41.9%) and 31 of the 76 patients in the 30 mg group (40.8%).

The most common adverse events were hyperglycemia (high concentration of blood sugar), diarrhea, cholelithiasis (gall stones), diabetes, and nausea.

The researchers consider this treatment to be a good option for patients whose disease has returned after surgery, or who cannot undergo surgery. The long-lasting treatment schedule of one injection per month is more convenient for patients than the twice-daily subcutaneous injection, making it more likely that they would not discontinue treatment.

“Surgical resection of the causative pituitary adenoma is the first-line treatment of choice for most patients with Cushing’s disease, which leads to remission in greater than 75% of patients if done by an expert pituitary surgeon,” wrote Dr. Andre Lacroix, MD, a professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Montreal teaching hospital, and colleagues.

“However, surgery is not always successful, and disease recurrence can occur several years after initial remission, while some patients refuse or are not candidates for surgery. As a result, many patients require additional treatment options.”

“Long-acting pasireotide normalized mUFC concentration in about 40% of patients with Cushing’s disease at month 7 and had a similar safety profile to that of twice-daily subcutaneous pasireotide,” the team wrote in the study.

“Long-acting pasireotide is an efficacious treatment option for some patients with Cushing’s disease who have persistent or recurrent disease after initial surgery or are not surgical candidates, and provides a convenient monthly administration schedule,” researchers concluded.

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2017/10/31/long-acting-signifor-for-cushings-disease-has-similar-efficacy-and-safety-as-twice-daily-treatment/

Long-acting pasireotide safe, effective for recurrent Cushing’s disease

October 20, 2017

In patients with persistent or recurring Cushing’s disease after surgery, monthly pasireotide was safe and effective, leading to normal urinary free cortisol levels in about 40% of patients after 12 months, according to findings from a phase 3 clinical trial.

“Surgical resection of the causative pituitary adenoma is the first-line treatment of choice for most patients with Cushing’s disease, which leads to remission in greater than 75% of patients if done by an expert pituitary surgeon,” Andre Lacroix, MD, professor in the department of medicine at University of Montreal teaching hospital, and colleagues wrote in the study background. “However, surgery is not always successful, and disease recurrence can occur several years after initial remission, while some patients refuse or are not candidates for surgery. As a result, many patients require additional treatment options.”

Lacroix and colleagues analyzed data from 150 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of persistent, recurrent or new Cushing’s disease with mean urinary free cortisol level concentration 1.5 to five times the upper limit of normal, normal or greater than normal plasma and confirmed pituitary source of Cushing’s disease. Patients were recruited between December 2011 and December 2014; those who received mitotane therapy within 6 months, pituitary irradiation within 10 years or previous pasireotide treatment were excluded. Researchers randomly assigned patients to 10 mg (n = 74) or 30 mg (n = 76) monthly intramuscular pasireotide (Signifor LAR, Novartis) for 12 months, with investigators and patients masked to the group allocation and dose. Pasireotide was up-titrated from 10 mg to 30 mg or from 30 mg to 40 mg at month 4, or at month 7, 9 or 12 if urinary free cortisol concentrations remained greater than 1.5 times the upper limit of normal. At month 12, patients considered to be receiving clinical benefit from the therapy (mean urinary free cortisol concentration at or less than the upper limit of normal) could continue to receive it during an open-ended extension phase. The primary outcome was to assess the proportion of patients achieving mean urinary free cortisol concentration less than or equal to the upper limit of normal by month 7, regardless of dose.

Within the cohort, 41.9% of patients in the 10-mg group and 40.8% of patients in the 40-mg group met the primary endpoint at month 7, whereas 5% of patients in the 10-mg group and 13% of patients in the 40-mg group achieved partial control. Researchers did not observe between-sex differences or differences in response among those who did or did not undergo previous surgery.

The number of patients who achieved the primary endpoint at month 7 without an up-titration in dose was smaller, but not significantly different between the 10-mg and 40-mg dose groups (28.4% and 31.6%, respectively), according to researchers. Among those who received an up-titration in dose in the 10-mg and 40-mg groups (42% and 37%, respectively), 32% and 25%, respectively, were considered responders at month 7.

Researchers also observed improvements in several metabolic parameters during the 12-month course of treatment with both doses, including improvements in systolic and diastolic blood pressure; reductions in waist circumference, BMI and body weight; and improvement in scores for the Cushing’s Quality of Life questionnaire. The most common adverse events were hyperglycemia, diarrhea, cholelithiasis, diabetes and nausea.

The researchers noted that, in both dose groups, the reductions in mean urinary free cortisol concentration were observed within 1 month, with concentrations remaining below baseline levels for the 12-month study period.

“This large phase 3 trial showed that long-acting pasireotide administered for 12 months can reduce [median urinary free cortisol] concentrations, is associated with improvements in clinical signs and [health-related quality of life] and has a similar safety profile to that of twice-daily pasireotide,” the researchers wrote, adding that the long-acting formulation provides a convenient monthly administration schedule. – by Regina Schaffer

Disclosures: Novartis funded this study. Lacroix reports he has received grants and personal fees as a clinical investigator, study steering committee member and advisory board member for Novartis, Stonebridge and UpToDate. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

From https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/adrenal/news/in-the-journals/%7B55988079-312b-478d-8788-036a465b1881%7D/long-acting-pasireotide-safe-effective-for-recurrent-cushings-disease

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