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Open access

L M Mongioì, R A Condorelli, S La Vignera, and A E Calogero


Adrenal insufficiency (AI) is a chronic condition associated with increased mortality and morbidity. The treatment of AI in the last years has been object of important changes due to the development of a dual-release preparation of hydrocortisone. It differs from previous therapeutic strategy as it contemplates a once-daily tablet that allows more closely mimicking the physiological circadian cortisol rhythm. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effects of dual-release hydrocortisone treatment on the glycometabolic profile and health-related quality of life of patients with AI.

Design and Methods

In this clinical open trial, we enrolled ten patients with primary AI (41 ± 2.67 years) and nine patients with AI secondary to hypopituitarism (53.2 ± 17.7 years). We evaluated the glycometabolic profile before and 3, 6, 9 and 12 months after dual-release hydrocortisone administration. We also evaluated health-related quality of life, estimated by the AddiQol questionnaire. The mean dose administered of dual-release hydrocortisone was 28.33 ± 6.68 mg/day.


One female hypopituitary patient dropped out from the study. After 12 months of treatment, the mean dosage administered of dual-release hydrocortisone was significantly lower (P < 0.05) and all patients reported improved quality of life and well-being. The glycometabolic profile improved and the glycosylated hemoglobin decreased significantly in patients with primary AI (6.25 ± 0.2 vs 5.35 ± 0.17, P < 0.05). In contrast, hypopituitary patients had worse glycometabolic profile and a trend toward hypertriglyceridemia.


Dual-release hydrocortisone treatment improved the quality of life of patients with AI, and it allowed a decrease of cortisol dosage administered in the absence of side effects. The glycometabolic profile worsened in hypopituitary patients.

Open access

Andrea V Haas, Paul N Hopkins, Nancy J Brown, Luminita H Pojoga, Jonathan S Williams, Gail K Adler, and Gordon H Williams

There are conflicting data on whether variations of physiologic cortisol levels associated with cardiovascular risk. We hypothesize that prior discordant findings are related to problems associated with varying sample size, techniques for assessing cardiovascular risk and failure to adequately account for environmental factors. To address these issues, we utilized a large sample size, selected the Framingham risk score to compute cardiovascular risk and performed the study in a highly controlled setting. We had two main objectives: determine whether higher, yet physiologic, cortisol levels associated with increased cardiovascular risk and determine whether caveolin-1 (rs926198) risk allele carriers associated with increased cardiovascular risk. This was a cross-sectional study of 574 non-diabetic individuals who completed a common protocol. Data collection included fasting blood samples, blood pressure measurements and a 24-h urine-free cortisol collection. Five hundred seventeen of these participants also completed caveolin-1 genotyping. Subjects were classified as belonging to either the low-mode or high-mode urine-free cortisol groups, based on the bimodal distribution of urine-free cortisol. In multivariate analysis, Framingham risk score was statistically higher in the high-mode cortisol group (10.22 (mean) ± 0.43 (s.e.m.)) compared to the low-mode cortisol group (7.73 ± 0.34), P < 0.001. Framingham risk score was also statistically higher in the caveolin-1 risk allele carriers (8.91 ± 0.37) compared to caveolin-1 non-risk allele carriers (7.59 ± 0.48), P = 0.034. Overall, the estimated effect on Framingham risk score of carrying the caveolin-1 risk allele was 1.33 ± 0.61, P = 0.029. Both urinary cortisol and caveolin-1 risk allele status are independent predictors of Framingham risk score.

Open access

S U Jayasinghe, S J Torres, C A Nowson, A J Tilbrook, and A I Turner

We tested the hypothesis that overweight/obese men aged 50–70 years will have a greater salivary cortisol, salivary alpha amylase and heart rate (HR) responses to psychological stress compared with age matched lean men. Lean (BMI=20–25 kg/m2; n=19) and overweight/obese (BMI=27–35 kg/m2; n=17) men (50–70 years) were subjected to a well-characterised psychological stress (Trier Social Stress Test, TSST) at 1500 h. Concentrations of cortisol and alpha amylase were measured in saliva samples collected every 7–15 min from 1400 to 1700 h. HR was recorded using electrocardiogram. Body weight, BMI, percentage body fat, resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure and mean arterial pressure were significantly higher (P<0.05) in overweight/obese men compared with lean men. Both groups responded to the TSST with a substantial elevation in salivary cortisol (372%), salivary alpha amylase (123%) and HR (22%). These responses did not differ significantly between the groups (time×treatment interaction for salivary cortisol, salivary alpha amylase and HR; P=0.187, P=0.288, P=0.550, respectively). There were no significant differences between the groups for pretreatment values, peak height, difference between pretreatment values and peak height (reactivity) or area under the curve for salivary cortisol, salivary alpha amylase or HR (P>0.05 for all). The results showed that, for men with a moderate level of overweight/obesity who were otherwise healthy, the response of salivary cortisol, salivary alpha amylase and HR to acute psychological stress was not impaired.

Open access

Jana Ernst, Katharina Gert, Frank Bernhard Kraus, Ulrike Elisabeth Rolle-Kampczyk, Martin Wabitsch, Faramarz Dehghani, and Kristina Schaedlich

The rapid increase of obesity during the last decades and its future prospects are alarming. Besides the general discussed causes of obesity, the ‘Developmental Origins of Health and Disease’ (DOHaD) hypothesis received more attention in recent years. This hypothesis postulates an adverse influence during early development that programs the unborn child for metabolic dysfunctions later in life. Childhood obesity – an as much increasing problem – can be predisposed by maternal overweight and diabetes. Both, obesity and hyperinsulinemia are major causes of female hyperandrogenemia. As predicted by the DOHaD hypothesis and shown in animal models, developmental androgen excess can lead to metabolic abnormalities in offspring. In this study, we investigated, if androgen exposure adversely affects the adipogenic differentiation of preadipocytes and the endocrine function of adult adipocytes. The human SGBS preadipocyte model was used to affirm the de novo biosynthesis of steroid hormones under normal adipogenesis conditions. Normal adipogenesis was paralleled by an increase of corticosteroids and androgens, whereas estrogen remained at a steady level. Treatment with androstenedione had no effect on SGBS proliferation and differentiation, but adult adipocytes exhibited a significant higher accumulation of triglycerides. Progesterone (up to 2-fold), testosterone (up to 38-fold) and cortisone (up to 1.4-fold) – but not cortisol – were elevated by androstenedione administration in adult adipocytes. Estrogen was not altered. Data suggest that androgen does not negatively influence adipogenic differentiation, but steroidogenic function of SGBS adipocytes.

Open access

Weixi Wang, Rulai Han, Lei Ye, Jing Xie, Bei Tao, Fukang Sun, Ran Zhuo, Xi Chen, Xiaxing Deng, Cong Ye, Hongyan Zhao, and Shu Wang


Up to 40% of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) patients may have adrenal cortical tumors. However, adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is rare. The clinical manifestations, prevalence, inheritance and prognosis of ACC associated with MEN1 remain unclear. Here we report the clinical manifestations and prevalence of ACC in patients with MEN1.

Design and methods

A retrospective analysis of ACC associated with MEN1 patients at a single tertiary care center from December 2001 to June 2017. Genetic analysis of MEN1 and other ACC associated genes, loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of MEN1 locus, immunohistochemistry staining of menin, P53 and β-catenin in ACC tissue were performed.


Two related patients had ACC associated with MEN1. The father had ENSAT stage IV tumor with excessive production of cortisol; the daughter had nonfunctional ENSAT stage I tumor. Both patients carried novel germline heterozygous mutation (c.400_401insC) of MEN1. The wild-type MEN1 allele was lost in the resected ACC tissue from the daughter with no menin staining. The ACC tissue had nuclear β-catenin staining, with heterozygous CTNNB1 mutation of 357del24 and P53 staining in only 20% cells.


ACC associated with MEN1 is rare and may occur in familial aggregates.

Open access

L Ghataore, I Chakraborti, S J Aylwin, K-M Schulte, D Dworakowska, P Coskeran, and N F Taylor

Mitotane (o,p'-DDD), an oral adrenolytic agent for treatment of advanced adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC), is reported to inhibit cortisol biosynthesis in vitro and enhance production from exogenous cortisol of urinary 6β-hydroxycortisol and unidentified polar unconjugated metabolites. We examined urinary steroid profiles by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry of patients with histologically confirmed ACC following surgery, receiving a) hydrocortisone alone (three males and three females) and b) mitotane and hydrocortisone (six males and 11 females). Samples were collected after plasma mitotane had reached the therapeutic range of 14–20 mg/l. Increased excretion of polar unconjugated steroids during mitotane treatment was confirmed, with 6β-hydroxycortisol and 6β-hydroxy-20-dihydrocortisols predominating. The proportion of additionally hydroxylated metabolites was <2% in untreated controls and 52, 35–52% (mean, range) in the mitotane plus hydrocortisone group. Ratios of 5α-/5β- and 20β-/20α-metabolites of administered cortisol were decreased 50-, 15-fold, and 14-, 8-fold respectively (males, females – mean values) but with no change in metabolite ratios that reflect oxidoreduction at C11 or C20. Patterns of decrease in 5α- relative to 5β-reduced metabolites were similar to those of patients with 5α-reductase 2 deficiency or on treatment with the 5α-reductase 2 inhibitor finasteride but different from those of patients on dutasteride, indicating specific inhibition of 5α-reductase 2. We conclude that mitotane causes consistent changes in cortisol catabolism, most of which have not been previously recognised. These need not interfere with early detection of ACC recurrence. Induction of 6β-hydroxylation offers an explanation for a reported decrease in cortisol bioavailability. Mitotane also has potential as a unique steroid metabolic probe for 20β-reduction.

Open access

Sebastião Freitas de Medeiros, Cinthia Marenza Ormond, Matheus Antônio Souto de Medeiros, Nayara de Souza Santos, Camila Regis Banhara, and Márcia Marly Winck Yamamoto


To examine the anthropometric, and metabolic connections of 17-hydroxypregnenolone in the normo- and hyperandrogenemic polycystic ovary syndrome phenotypes.

Materials and methods

This cohort study was conducted at the Julio Muller University Hospital, Cuiabá, Brazil, between January 2014 and July 2016, and 91 normal cycling healthy women, 46 normoandrogenemic and 147 hyperandrogenemic, patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) were enrolled according to the Rotterdam criteria. Several anthropometric, biochemical and hormonal parameters were properly verified and correlated with 17-hydroxypregnenolone (17-OHPE) concentrations.


17-OHPE was higher in hyperandrogenemic PCOS than in normoandrogenemic PCOS and in control groups (P = 0.032 and P < 0.001, respectively). In healthy controls, 17-OHPE was positively associated with glucose, free estrogen index, DHEAS and negatively associated with compounds S. In normoandrogenemic PCOS patients, 17-OHPE presented positive correlations with VAI, LAP, cortisol, insulin and HOMA-IR. In the hyperandrogenemic group, 17-OHPE presented significant negative correlations with most anthropometric parameters, HOMA-IR, HOMA %B, estradiol, free estrogen index (FEI), C-peptide, and TG levels and positive correlations with HOMA-S and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG), androstenedione (A4) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Regarding hyperandrogenemic PCOS, and using a stepwise multiple regression, only HOMA-S and WHR were retained in the model (R 2 = 0.294, P < 0.001).


17-OHPE exhibited different relationships with anthropometric, and biochemical parameters in PCOS patients, depending on the androgen levels. In PCOS subjects with high androgen concentrations, 17-OHPE was negatively associated with most anthropometric parameters, particularly with those used as markers of adipose tissue dysfunction and frequently employed as predictors of cardiovascular disease risk; otherwise, 17-OHPE was positively associated with HDL-C and HOMA-S in this patients. Future studies are required to evaluate the clinical implications of these novel findings.

Open access

Amit Kumar, Maria Ghosh, and Jubbin Jagan Jacob

Background: The diagnosis of SIAD requires the exclusion of secondary adrenal insufficiency (AI) among patients with euvolemic hyponatremia (EuVHNa). Studies have suggested about 2.7% to 3.8% of unselected patients presenting to the emergency room with EuVHNa have undiagnosed AI and it is as high as 15% among patients admitted to specialized units for evaluation of hyponatremia.

Objective: To study the prevalence of AI among inpatients with EuVHNa in a general medical ward setting

Methods: This was a prospective, single centre observational study conducted among general medical inpatients with EuVHNa, defined as patients with a serum Na <135 mmol/L, clinical euvolemia and urine spot sodium >30mmol/L. Additionally patients with recent vomiting, current renal failure, diuretic use and those with uncontrolled hyperglycemia were excluded. Adrenal functions were assessed by a modified ACTH stimulation test called Acton Prolongatum™ stimulation test (APST). A cut off cortisol value of <18mg/dl after 60 minutes of ACTH injection was used to diagnose AI.

Results: One hundred and forty-one (141) patients were included and underwent an APST. APST suggested 20/141 (14.2%) had undiagnosed AI. The most common cause of AI (9/20) was secondary AI because of the use of steroids including inhaled steroids and indigenous medicines contaminated with steroids. In 5 (3.5%) patients hypopituitarism was newly diagnosed. Despite primary adrenal insufficiency not commonly presenting as EuVHNa, 2/20 patients had primary adrenal insufficiency.

Conclusions: AI is much commoner in our country among inpatients with EuVHNa primarily driven by exogenous steroid use and undiagnosed hypopituitarism.

Open access

M von Wolff, C T Nakas, M Tobler, T M Merz, M P Hilty, J D Veldhuis, A R Huber, and J Pichler Hefti

Humans cannot live at very high altitude for reasons, which are not completely understood. Since these reasons are not restricted to cardiorespiratory changes alone, changes in the endocrine system might also be involved. Therefore, hormonal changes during prolonged hypobaric hypoxia were comprehensively assessed to determine effects of altitude and hypoxia on stress, thyroid and gonadal hypothalamus–pituitary hormone axes. Twenty-one male and 19 female participants were examined repetitively during a high-altitude expedition. Cortisol, prolactin, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), fT4 and fT3 and in males follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and total testosterone were analysed as well as parameters of hypoxemia, such as SaO2 and paO2 at 550 m (baseline) (n = 40), during ascent at 4844 m (n = 38), 6022 m (n = 31) and 7050 m (n = 13), at 4844 m (n = 29) after acclimatization and after the expedition (n = 38). Correlation analysis of hormone concentrations with oxygen parameters and with altitude revealed statistical association in most cases only with altitude. Adrenal, thyroid and gonadal axes were affected by increasing altitude. Adrenal axis and prolactin were first supressed at 4844 m and then activated with increasing altitude; thyroid and gonadal axes were directly activated or suppressed respectively with increasing altitude. Acclimatisation at 4844 m led to normalization of adrenal and gonadal but not of thyroid axes. In conclusion, acclimatization partly leads to a normalization of the adrenal, thyroid and gonadal axes at around 5000 m. However, at higher altitude, endocrine dysregulation is pronounced and might contribute to the physical degradation found at high altitude.

Open access

Thabiso R P Mofokeng, Salem A Beshyah, Fazleh Mahomed, Kwazi C Z Ndlovu, and Ian L Ross


The burden and management of primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI) in Africa have not been well documented. We aimed to identify specific disease characteristics, patient demographics, and patterns of clinical management in established PAI in Africa.


An online survey of physicians’ experience relating to PAI.


There were 1334 responses received, 589 were complete, and 332 respondents reported managing patients with hypoadrenalism. The described responses were related to a calculated pool of 5787 patients with hypoadrenalism (2746 females, 3041 males), of whom 2302 had PAI. The likely causes of PAI in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) vs the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions included autoimmune disease (20% vs 60.3%; P < 0.001), tuberculosis (34% vs 4.1%; P < 0.001), AIDS (29.8% vs 1%; P < 0.001), malignancy, and genetic conditions. Sixteen percent of AD patients (376/2302) presented in an adrenal crisis. Medical emergency identification was not used by 1233 (83.6%) SSA vs 330 (40.4%) MENA patients (P < 0.001), respectively. Relative non-availability of diagnostic tests across both regions included adrenal antibodies 63% vs 69.6% (P = 0.328), s-cortisol 49.4 % vs 26.7% (P = 0.004), s-ACTH 55.7% vs 53.3% (P = 0.217), and adrenal CT scans 52.4% vs 31.8% (P = 0.017) in the SSA and MENA region, respectively. Across the entire cohort, the overall hydrocortisone use and extrapolated proportion of synacthen use were 59.4% and 50.7%, respectively.


Through the perception and practice of healthcare professionals, we identified significant challenges in the diagnosis and management of PAI which may herald high mortality. Differences between regions may reflect the allocation of healthcare resources.