ACTH Levels After Surgery Help Predict Remission, Recurrence in Cushing’s

Levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in circulation after pituitary surgery may help predict which Cushing’s disease patients will achieve early remission and which will eventually see the disease return, a study shows.

Also, the earlier that patients reached their lowest peak of ACTH levels, the better their long-term outcomes.

The study, “Prognostic usefulness of ACTH in the postoperative period of Cushing’s disease,” was published in the journal Endocrine Connections.

Removing the pituitary tumor through a minimally invasive surgery called transsphenoidal surgery is still the treatment of choice for Cushing’s disease patients. But not all patients enter remission, and even among those who do, a small proportion will experience disease recurrence.

While cortisol levels have been suggested as a main predictor of remission and recurrence, there is no consensus as to which cutoff point should be used after surgery, or the best time for measuring this hormone.

Because Cushing’s disease is caused by an ACTH-producing tumor in the pituitary gland, and ACTH has a short half-life (approximately 10 minutes), it is expected that ACTH levels drop markedly within a few hours after surgery.

Thus, a group of researchers in Spain aimed to determine whether blood levels of ACTH could be useful for predicting remission of Cushing’s disease both immediately after surgery (defined as less than 72 hours) and in the long term.

Researchers analyzed 65 patients with Cushing’s disease who had undergone transsphenoidal surgery (seven required a second intervention) between 2005 and 2016. Remission within three months was seen in 56 of 65 cases; late disease recurrence was seen in 18 of 58 cases.

Investigators measured the ACTH nadir concentration (defined as the lowest concentration) and the time taken to reach nadir levels after surgery, as well as the plasma ACTH concentration before hospital discharge.

While ACTH levels had no predictive value, the team found that people who went into remission had significantly lower ACTH nadir levels and ACTH levels at discharge. On the other hand, levels of ACHT nadir and at discharge were significantly higher for people who experienced a relapse, compared to those who remained in remission.

Using artificial intelligence algorithms, the researchers further found that ACTH nadir, ACTH at discharge, and cortisol nadir values were all of great relevance to predict remission within three months.

Analysis indicated that using a cutoff point of 3.3 pmol/L of ACTH after surgery and before discharge gave the best sensitivity and specificity for predicting a patient’s prognosis.

Researchers further found that the time patients took to reach their ACTH nadir, regardless of nadir levels, also influenced their outcomes. In fact, patients reaching this nadir in less than than 46 hours more likely achieved early remission.

And taking longer than 39 hours to reach the ACTH nadir was significantly more frequent in patients who experienced recurrence. This indicates that the time to ACTH nadir is an important measure for prognosis.

“In the immediate postoperative period of patients with [Cushing’s disease], the ACTH concentration is of prognostic utility in relation to late disease remission,” the researchers said.

Overall, “we propose an ACTH value <3.3 pmol/L as a good long-term prognostic marker in the postoperative period of CD. Reaching the ACTH nadir in less time is associated to a lesser recurrence rate,” the study concluded.

Patricia holds her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from University Nova de Lisboa, and has served as an author on several research projects and fellowships, as well as major grant applications for European Agencies. She also served as a PhD student research assistant in the Laboratory of Doctor David A. Fidock, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Columbia University, New York.

Recovery of HPA Axis Can Occur Late After Transsphenoidal Adenomectomy

Recovery of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis can occur as late as 12 months after transsphenoidal adenomectomy (TSA), according to study results published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. These findings emphasize the need to periodically assess these patients to avoid unnecessary hydrocortisone replacement.

The primary treatment for most pituitary lesions is TSA. After pituitary surgery, the recovery of pituitary hormone deficits may be delayed; limited data are available regarding the postsurgical recovery of hormonal axes or predictors of recovery. The goal of this study was to assess HPA axis dysfunction and predictive markers of recovery following TSA, as well as time to recovery, to identify subgroups of patients who may be more likely to recover.

This single-center observational retrospective study enrolled 109 patients in the United Kingdom (71 men; mean age, 56 years; range, 17 to 82 years) who underwent TSA between February 2015 and September 2018 and had ≥1 reevaluation of the HPA axis with the short Synacthen (cosyntropin) test. The primary outcome was recovery of HPA axis function 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 9 to 12 months after TSA.

In 23 patients (21.1%), there was no evidence of pituitary hormone deficit before TSA. In 44 patients (40.4%), there was 1 hormone deficiency and in 25 patients (22.9%), preoperative evaluation showed >1 hormone deficiency.

Of the 23 patients with abnormal HPA function before surgery, 8 patients (34.8%) had recovered 6 weeks after the surgery. Patients who recovered were younger (mean age, 50±14 vs 70±9 years; P =.008) compared with patients who did not respond. Of the 15 remaining patients, 2 (13.3%) recovered at 3 months and 3 (20%) recovered at 9 to 12 months.

With regard to HPA function in the entire cohort 6 weeks after surgery, 32 patients (29.4%) did not pass the short Synacthen test. Of this group, 5 patients (15.6%) recovered at 3 months, 4 (12.5%) at 6 months, and 2 (6.2%) recovered 9 to 12 months after the surgery.

Predictors of future adrenal recovery at 6 weeks included having preoperative 30-minute cortisol >430 nmol/L (P <.001) and a day 8 postoperative cortisol >160 nmol/L (P =.001). With these cutoffs, 80% of patients with preoperative 30-minute cortisol >430 nmol/L (odds ratio [OR], 7.556; 95% CI, 2.847-20.055) and 80% of patients with day 8 postoperative cortisol >160 nmol/L (OR, 9.00; 95% CI, 2.455-32.989) passed the short Synacthen test at 6 weeks postsurgery. In addition, a 6-week baseline short Synacthen test cortisol level above or below 180 nmol/L (P <.001) predicted adrenal recovery at that time point.

None of the patients with all 3 variables below the aforementioned cutoffs recovered HPA axis within 1 year. On the other hand, 91.8% of patients with all 3 variables above those cutoffs had normal adrenal function at 6 weeks (OR, 12.200; 95% CI, 5.268-28.255).

In addition to the retrospective design, the study had other limitations, including the potential for selection bias, a heterogeneous patient cohort, and no data beyond 12 months after the surgery.

“[T]hese data offer the opportunity for patients who may have been given life-long replacement, to safely come off therapy and therefore avoid unnecessary glucocorticoid exposure,” wrote the researchers.

Reference

Pofi R, Gunatilake S, Macgregor V, et al. Recovery of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis following transsphenoidal adenomectomy for non-ACTH secreting macroadenomas [published online June 21, 2019]. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. doi:10.1210/jc.2019-00406

From https://www.endocrinologyadvisor.com/home/topics/adrenal/recovery-of-hpa-axis-can-occur-late-after-transsphenoidal-adenomectomy/

Why It’s Safer Than Ever To Remove Pituitary Tumors

Removing a pituitary tumor by surgery can be tricky. The gland is surrounded by carotid arteries, optic nerves, and lots of important brain matter. Nor is it easy to access or visualize. But with the help of revolutionary technology and modern expertise, surgeons are now able to remove pituitary tumors in a safe and minimally invasive way. / Image courtesy of Mayfield Brain & Spine

There are three basic things you should know about your pituitary gland: it’s buried away at the base of your brain; it’s very important; and, alas, it has a habit of growing tumors.

Did your pulse quicken a tiny bit at mention of “tumors?” If so, it’s because your thyroid told it to, on instructions from your pituitary gland. But now it’s normal again, right? For that you can thank cortisol, which your pituitary gland told your adrenal glands to make in response to stress.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to Yair Gozal, MD, neurosurgeon at Mayfield Brain & Spine.

“The pituitary gland is also known as the master gland,” he explains. “It regulates the release of hormones from other glands, controlling blood pressure, urine output, body temperature, growth, metabolism, lactation, ovulation, testosterone, stress response, and more.”

That of course means when something is wrong with your pituitary gland—say, a tumor—the symptoms can vary. Perhaps the tumor grows from the part of the pituitary gland that produces prolactin, which regulates sexual function. In that case, a prolactinoma will result in halted menstruation or erectile disfunction (among other things.) Alternatively, suppose the tumor grows from the part of the pituitary gland that produces growth hormone. These tumors cause gigantism in children and acromegaly in adults (again, among other things.)

So it follows, the part of the pituitary gland where the tumor grows will determine its symptoms. But these only account for “functioning” tumors—that is, tumors that secrete too much or too little of a particular hormone. Other tumors, termed “non-functioning,” do not secrete hormones at all. These buggers just take up space until they begin pressing on adjacent parts of the brain that would rather not be pressed on. Symptoms include headache, vision loss, nausea, vomiting, or fatigue. Non-functioning tumors can also pinch the pituitary gland itself, resulting in a broad-based loss of pituitary function.

Pituitary tumors are unusually common. Fifteen percent of adults have one. Most do not cause symptoms or require treatment. If you have one that does, your treatment may involve medication, radiation, and surgery.

Removing a pituitary tumor by surgery can be tricky. The gland is surrounded by carotid arteries, optic nerves, and lots of important brain matter. Nor is it easy to access or visualize. But with the help of revolutionary technology and modern expertise, surgeons are now able to remove pituitary tumors in a safe and minimally invasive way.

For the vast majority of cases, surgeons opt for a transsphenoidal approach. Here, the surgeon inserts an endoscope through the nostril to reach the pituitary gland. The endoscope’s camera relays video to a monitor, which allows the surgeon to visualize the tumor and be precise while removing it. Nowadays the surgeon is further aided by computer image guidance. The computer system gives the surgeon a real-time, three-dimensional model of his or her instruments in the operating space, adding extra degrees of precision—and safety—to the procedure.

“Technology has really moved ahead in this field,” says Gozal. “You get such good visualization. It’s made the operation relatively straightforward.”

Straightforward, that is, for a multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons, ENT surgeons, and endocrinologists equipped with all that technology and all their training.

“I wouldn’t go anywhere that didn’t have a team for this,” says Gozal. “It’s all about developing expertise. That’s the key. It’s the expertise that has made this safer to do.”

– –

Internationally recognized as a leader in neurological surgery, Mayfield has forged a rich and lasting heritage through technical innovation, research, and a commitment to patient care. Mayfield physicians are continuously recognized among the Best Doctors in America and Top Doctors in Greater Cincinnati.

Mayfield Brain & Spine has four convenient locations in Greater Cincinnati: Rookwood Exchange (3825 Edwards Road, Suite 300, Cincinnati, 45209); Green Township (6130 Harrison Ave., 45247); West Chester (9075 Centre Point Drive, 45069); and Northern Kentucky (350 Thomas More Parkway, Suite 160, Crestview Hills, 41017).

 

From https://local12.com/sponsored/why-its-safer-than-ever-to-remove-pituitary-tumors

Post-traumatic Stress Symptoms Common in Cushing’s Patients Before Surgery

Patients with Cushing’s disease may develop post-traumatic stress symptoms, which are generally resolved once they undergo surgery to remove the tumor, but can persist in some cases, a study shows.

The study, “Posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in patients with Cushing’s disease before and after surgery: A prospective study,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience.

Cushing’s disease is an endocrine disorder characterized by excess secretion of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) by a pituitary adenoma (tumor of the pituitary gland). This leads to high levels of cortisol, a condition known as hypercortisolism.

Chronic hypercortisolism is associated with symptoms such as central obesity, buffalo hump, body bruising, muscle weakness, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and weak bones.

Additionally, patients can develop psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction, all of which contribute considerably to a lower health-related quality of life.

Depression and anxiety rates are particularly high in Cushing’s disease patients, with 54% of them experiencing major depression and 79% having anxiety.

Due to the significant impact of psychological factors in these patients, they may be susceptible to post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS). But more information on this phenomenon in these patients is still needed.

To address this lack of data, a group of Chinese researchers conducted a prospective study to investigate the occurrence, correlated factors, and prognosis of PTSS in patients with Cushing’s disease.

A total of 49 patients newly diagnosed with Cushing’s disease who underwent transsphenoidal removal of the tumor as their first-line treatment were asked to participate in this study. Another group of 49 age- and sex-matched healthy individuals were included as controls.

PTSS was measured using the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), depression/anxiety were measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS), and quality of life was measured using the 36-item short-form (SF-36). These parameters were measured before surgery, and then at six and 12 months after the procedure.

Before surgery, 15 patients (30.6%) had PTSS. These patients also had higher cortisol levels, worse levels of depression/anxiety, and worse quality of life scores than those without PTSS.

While most of the patients recovered after the operation, there were five (33.3%) for whom PTSS persisted for more than a year.

Additionally, one patient who had a recurrence of Cushing’s disease developed PTSS between six and 12 months after the first surgery.

PTSS severity showed consistent improvement after surgery, which was correlated with better depression/anxiety scores and psychological aspects of the SF-36. However, Cushing’s disease patients in remission still performed worse than healthy individuals concerning their physical and mental health.

Therefore, “patients with [Cushing’s disease] can develop PTSS, and they may persist for over a year even after successful surgery. Combined psychological intervention is advised for these patients,” the researchers concluded.

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2019/06/25/cushings-patients-often-have-post-traumatic-stress-symptoms

Temozolomide Effective Against Cushing’s Caused by Aggressive Tumors

The oral chemotherapy temozolomide might be an effective treatment for Cushing’s disease caused by aggressive tumors in the pituitary gland that continue to grow after surgery and taking other medications, a case report suggests.

The study, “Successful reduction of ACTH secretion in a case of intractable Cushing’s disease with pituitary Crooke’s cell adenoma by combined modality therapy including temozolomide,” was published in the journal J-Stage.

Cushing’s disease is often caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland that secretes high levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), leading to high levels of cortisol and other symptoms.

Macroadenomas are aggressive, fast-growing tumors that reach sizes larger than 10 millimeters. Crooke’s cell adenoma is a type of macroadenoma that does not respond to conventional therapies, but has deficient mechanisms of DNA repair. That is why chemotherapeutic agents that damage the DNA, such as temozolomide, might be potential treatments.

Researchers in Japan reported the case of a 56-year-old woman with Cushing’s disease caused by a Crooke’s cell adenoma in the pituitary gland who responded positively to temozolomide.

The patient was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease at age 39 when she went to the hospital complaining of continuous weight gain. She also had excessive production of urine and a loss of vision in the right eye.

The lab tests showed high levels of cortisol and ACTH, and the MRI detected a tumor of 4.5 centimeters in the pituitary gland. The doctors removed a part of the tumor surgically, which initially reduced the levels of ACTH and cortisol.

However, the hormone levels and the size of the residual tumor started to increase gradually after the surgery, despite treatment with several medications.

By the time the patient was 56 years old, she went to the hospital complaining of general fatigue, leg edema (swelling from fluid), high blood pressure, and central obesity (belly fat).

Further examination showed a 5.7 cm tumor, identified as a Crooke’s cell macroadenoma. The patient underwent a second surgery to remove as much tumor as possible, but the levels of ACTH remained high. She took temozolomide for nine months, which normalized the levels of ACTH and cortisol. After the treatment, the patient no longer had high blood pressure or leg edema.

The tumor shrunk considerably in the year following temozolomide treatment. The patient started radiation therapy to control tumor growth. The levels of cortisol and ACHT remained normal, and the tumor did not grow in the seven years following temozolomide treatment.

“These clinical findings suggest that [temozolomide] treatment to patients with Crooke’s cell adenoma accompanied with elevated ACTH may be a good indication to induce lowering ACTH levels and tumor shrinkage,” researchers wrote.

Other cases of Cushing’s disease caused by aggressive macroadenomas showed positive results, such as reduction of tumor size and decrease in plasma ACTH, after temozolomide treatment. However, more studies are needed to establish the ideal course of chemotherapy to treat these tumors, the researchers noted.

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2019/06/18/temozolomide-effective-cushings-disease-aggressive-tumors-case-report/

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