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Open access

Ana Podbregar, Tomaž Kocjan, Matej Rakuša, Peter Popović, Manca Garbajs, Katja Goricar, Andrej Janez, and Mojca Jensterle

Most data on the natural history of nonfunctioning adrenal incidentalomas (NFAI) are provided by follow-ups up to 5 years. We conducted a 10.5 (9.1–11.9)-year prospective follow-up study of NFAI in 67 participants (20 (29.9%) males, 47 (70.1%) females) of mean age 57.9 (52.3–63.9) years and BMI 27.42 (24.07–30.56) kg/m2). We also evaluated the associations between baseline BMI and changes of NFAIs’ characteristics at follow-up. Progression to mild autonomous cortisol excess (MACE) was observed in 15 (22 %) patients, with 14 of them having post overnight dexamethasone suppression test (ODST) cortisol between 50 and138 nmol/L and only one > 138 nmol/L. The progression rate was significantly higher in overweight and obese than in normal-weight subjects. Patients that developed MACE had a significantly higher baseline mean cortisol after 1 mg ODST. Tumor enlargement ≥10 mm occurred in 8.9% of patients. In comparison with reports of shorter observational periods, we observed a higher growth rate ≥ 10 mm and higher progression rate from NFAI to MACE, particularly in overweight and obese subjects. All tumors had persistent radiological characteristics typical for adrenal adenoma. We concluded that the duration of the follow-up period is an important factor in characterizing the natural history of NFAI. Higher baseline BMI and higher baseline cortisol after ODST might predict the long-term likelihood of progression in hormonal activity. The magnitudes of observed progressions in growth or hormonal activity were clinically insignificant. Our long-term follow-up, therefore, clearly supports the general view that a long-term monitoring of patients with NFAI is not necessary.

Open access

Lang Qin, Xiaoming Zhu, Xiaoxia Liu, Meifang Zeng, Ran Tao, Yan Zhuang, Yiting Zhou, Zhaoyun Zhang, Yehong Yang, Yiming Li, Yongfei Wang, and Hongying Ye

Introduction

The purpose of the study was to describe lipid profile and explore pathogenetic role of LDL-c on hypertension in patients with Cushing’s disease (CD). Hypertension is a common feature in patients with CD. Previous study found low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) uptake in vascular cells might be involved in vascular remodeling in patients with CD. Therefore, we evaluated the relationship between lipid profile and the blood pressure in patients with CD.

Methods

This retrospective study included 84 patients referred to Huashan Hospital for the evaluation and diagnosis of CD from January 2012 to December 2013. All subjects had detailed clinical evaluation by the same group of endocrinology specialists to avoid subjective influences.

Results

We found that high LDL-c patients had significant higher body mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure (SBP), cholesterol (CHO), triglyceride (TG), and apolipoproteinB (apoB) (P < 0.05). An association was detected between SBP values and lipids profile including CHO, TG, LDL-c, apolipoproteinA (apoA), apoB and lipoprotein(a) (LP(a)). After adjustment for all covariates, the LDL-c remained positively associated with SBP. In patients with or without taking statins, patients with LDL-c ≥3.37 mmol/L had higher SBP than patients with LDL-c <3.37 mmol/L. Then, LDL-c was coded using restricted cubic splines (RCS) function with three knots located at the 5th, 50th and 95th percentiles of the distribution of LDL-c. Compared to individuals with 3.215 mmol/L of LDL-c, individuals with 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 mmol/L of LDL-c had differences of 3.86, 8.53 and 14.11 mmHg in SBP, respectively.

Conclusions

An independent association between LDL-c and SBP was found in patients with CD. We speculate that LDL-c may be a pathogenic factor for hypertension in those patients.

Open access

Nidan Qiao

Introduction

It is unclear whether the proportions of remission and the recurrence rates differ between endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery (TS) and microscopic TS in Cushing’s disease (CD); thus, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate studies of endoscopic TS and microscopic TS.

Methods

We conducted a comprehensive search of PubMed to identify relevant studies. Remission and recurrence were used as outcome measures following surgical treatment of CD.

Results

A total of 24 cohort studies involving 1670 adult patients were included in the comparison. Among these studies, 702 patients across 9 studies underwent endoscopic TS, and 968 patients across 15 studies underwent microscopic TS. Similar baseline characteristics were observed in both groups. There was no significant difference in remission between the two groups: 79.7% (95% CI: 73.1–85.0%) in the endoscopic group and 76.9% (95% CI: 71.3–81.6%) in the microscopic group (P = 0.485). It appears that patients who underwent endoscopic surgery experience recurrence less often than patients who underwent microscopic surgery, with recurrence proportions of 11.0% and 15.9%, respectively (P = 0.134). However, if follow-up time is taken into account, both groups had a recurrence rate of approximately 4% per person per year (95% CI: 3.1–5.4% and 3.6–5.1%, P = 0.651).

Conclusions

We found that remission proportion and recurrence rate were the same in patients who underwent endoscopic TS as in patients who underwent microscopic TS. The definition of diagnosis, remission and recurrence should always be considered in the studies assessing therapeutic efficacy in CD.

Open access

Prachi Bansal, Anurag Lila, Manjunath Goroshi, Swati Jadhav, Nilesh Lomte, Kunal Thakkar, Atul Goel, Abhidha Shah, Shilpa Sankhe, Naina Goel, Neelam Jaguste, Tushar Bandgar, and Nalini Shah

Purpose

Transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) is the primary treatment modality for Cushing’s disease (CD). However, the predictors of post-operative remission and recurrence remain debatable. Thus, we studied the post-operative remission and long-term recurrence rates, as well as their respective predictive factors.

Methods

A retrospective analysis of case records of 230 CD patients who underwent primary microscopic TSS at our tertiary care referral centre between 1987 and 2015 was undertaken. Demographic features, pre- and post-operative hormonal values, MRI findings, histopathological features and follow-up data were recorded. Remission and recurrence rates as well as their respective predictive factors were studied.

Results

Overall, the post-operative remission rate was 65.6% (early remission 46%; delayed remission 19.6%), while the recurrence rate was 41% at mean follow-up of 74 ± 61.1 months (12–270 months). Significantly higher early remission rates were observed in patients with microadenoma vs macroadenoma (51.7% vs 30.6%, P = 0.005) and those with unequivocal vs equivocal MRI for microadenoma (55.8% vs 38.5%, P = 0.007). Patients with invasive macroadenoma had poorer (4.5% vs 45%, P = 0.001) remission rates. Recurrence rates were higher in patients with delayed remission than those with early remission (61.5% vs 30.8%, P = 0.001). Duration of post-operative hypocortisolemia ≥13 months predicted sustained remission with 100% specificity and 46.4% sensitivity. Recurrence could be detected significantly earlier (27.7 vs 69.2 months, P < 0.001) in patients with available serial follow-up biochemistry as compared to those with infrequent follow-up after remission.

Conclusion

In our study, remission and recurrence rates were similar to that of reported literature, but proportion of delayed remission was relatively higher. Negative/equivocal MRI findings and presence of macroadenoma, especially those with cavernous sinus invasion were predictors of poor remission rates. In addition to early remission, longer duration of post-operative hypocortisolism is an important predictor of sustained remission. Regular biochemical surveillance may help in identifying recurrence early.

Open access

Milène Tetsi Nomigni, Sophie Ouzounian, Alice Benoit, Jacqueline Vadrot, Frédérique Tissier, Sylvie Renouf, Hervé Lefebvre, Sophie Christin-Maitre, and Estelle Louiset

Hirsutism induced by hyperandrogenism can be associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, 21-hydroxylase (OH) deficiency or androgen-secreting tumors, including ovarian and adrenal tumors. Adrenal androgen-secreting tumors are frequently malignant. Adrenal oncocytomas represent rare causes of hyperandrogenism. The aim of the study was to investigate steroidogenic enzyme expression and steroid secretion in an androgen-secreting adrenal oncocytoma in a young woman presenting with hirsutism. Hyperandrogenism was diagnosed on the basis of elevated plasma Δ4-androstenedione and testosterone levels. Pelvic ultrasound was normal, CT scanning revealed a right adrenal mass. Androgens were assessed in adrenal and ovarian vein samples and proved a right adrenal origin. Adrenalectomy normalized androgen levels and the adrenal tumor was diagnosed as an oncocytoma. Real time-PCR, immunohistochemistry and cell culture studies were performed on tumor explants to investigate the steroid secretion profile. Among enzymes required for cortisol synthesis, 17α-OH and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 2 (3β-HSD2) were highly expressed whereas 21-OH and 11β-OH were weakly produced at the mRNA and/or protein levels. Enzymes involved in testosterone production, 17β-HSD5 and 17β-HSD3, were also detected. ACTH receptor was present in the tissue. Cortisol, Δ4-androstenedione and testosterone secretions by cultured cells were increased by ACTH. These results provide the first demonstration, to our knowledge, of abnormal expression profile of steroidogenic enzymes in an adrenocortical oncocytoma. Our results also indicate that Δ4-androstenedione hypersecretion resulted from high 17α-OH and 3β-HSD2 expression in combination with low expression of 21-OH and 11β-OH. Testosterone production was ascribed to occurrence of 17β-HSD5 and 17β-HSD3. Finally, our results indicate that androgen secretion was stimulated by ACTH.

Open access

Eva Novoa, Marcel Gärtner, and Christoph Henzen

Objective

The study aimed to assess the possible systemic effects of intratympanic dexamethasone (IT-Dex) on the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, inflammation, and bone metabolism.

Design

A prospective cohort study including 30 adult patients of a tertiary referral ENT clinic treated with 9.6 mg IT-Dex over a period of 10 days was carried out.

Methods

Effects on plasma and salivary cortisol concentrations (basal and after low-dose (1 μg) ACTH stimulation), peripheral white blood cell count, and biomarkers for bone turnover were measured before (day 0) and after IT-Dex (day 16). Additional measurements for bone turnover were performed 5 months after therapy. Clinical information and medication with possible dexamethasone interaction were recorded.

Results

IT-Dex was well tolerated, and no effect was detected on the HPA axis (stimulated plasma and salivary cortisol concentration on day 0: 758±184 and 44.5±22.0 nmol/l; day 16: 718±154 and 39.8±12.4 nmol/l; P=0.58 and 0.24 respectively). Concentrations of osteocalcin (OC) and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BSAP) did not differ after dexamethasone (OC on days 0 and 16 respectively: 24.1±10.5 and 23.6±8.8 μg/l; BSAP on day 0, 16, and after 5 months respectively: 11.5±4.2, 10.3±3.4, and 12.6±5.06 μg/l); similarly, there was no difference in the peripheral white blood cell count (5.7×1012/l and 6.1×1012/l on days 0 and 16 respectively).

Conclusions

IT-Dex therapy did not interfere with endogenous cortisol secretion or bone metabolism.

Open access

Pablo Abellán-Galiana, Carmen Fajardo-Montañana, Pedro Riesgo-Suárez, Marcelino Pérez-Bermejo, Celia Ríos-Pérez, and José Gómez-Vela

Objectives

To analyze the usefulness of plasma ACTH in predicting CD remission after surgery and to evaluate the prognostic usefulness of ACTH measurement after the cortisol and ACTH nadir (48 h prior to discharge).

Design

A prospective study was made of 65 patients with CD operated upon between 2005 and 2016.

Methods

Postsurgery plasma ACTH and cortisol were measured every 6 h, in the absence of corticosteroid coverage. Hydrocortisone was started in the presence of adrenal insufficiency or cortisol <55.2 nmol/L. Plasma ACTH was again determined before discharge.

Main outcome measure

Usefulness of plasma ACTH in predicting CD remission.

Results

Remission at 3 months of CD was achieved in 56 of 65 cases, with late recurrence in 18 of 58 cases. Following resection, the ACTH nadir was significantly lower referred to late remission (2.8 vs 6.5 pmol/L; P = 0.031) and higher for recurrence (2.1 vs 4.8 pmol/L; P < 0.001), and identical results were obtained for the ACTH values before discharge. In the analysis of the ROC curves, nadir and before discharge ACTH values <1.9 pmol/L and <2.6 pmol/L were respectively indicative of early remission (AUC 0.827; P < 0.001); <6.2 pmol/L of remission at 3 months (AUC 0.847; P = 0.001) and >3.2 pmol/L of recurrence (AUC 0.810; P < 0.001) in both ACTH values. A time to ACTH nadir <46 h was indicative of early remission (AUC 0.751; P = 0.001), while a time >39 h was indicative of recurrence (AUC 0.773; P = 0.001).

Conclusions

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.

Open access

Earn H Gan, Wendy Robson, Peter Murphy, Robert Pickard, Simon Pearce, and Rachel Oldershaw

Background

The highly plastic nature of adrenal cortex suggests the presence of adrenocortical stem cells (ACSC), but the exact in vivo identity of ACSC remains elusive. A few studies have demonstrated the differentiation of adipose or bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) into steroid-producing cells. We therefore investigated the isolation of multipotent MSC from human adrenal cortex.

Methods

Human adrenals were obtained as discarded surgical material. Single-cell suspensions from human adrenal cortex (n = 3) were cultured onto either complete growth medium (CM) or MSC growth promotion medium (MGPM) in hypoxic condition. Following ex vivo expansion, their multilineage differentiation capacity was evaluated. Phenotype markers were analysed by immunocytochemistry and flow cytometry for cell-surface antigens associated with bone marrow MSCs and adrenocortical-specific phenotype. Expression of mRNAs for pluripotency markers was assessed by q-PCR.

Results

The formation of colony-forming unit fibroblasts comprising adherent cells with fibroblast-like morphology were observed from the monolayer cell culture, in both CM and MGPM. Cells derived from MGPM revealed differentiation towards osteogenic and adipogenic cell lineages. These cells expressed cell-surface MSC markers (CD44, CD90, CD105 and CD166) but did not express the haematopoietic, lymphocytic or HLA-DR markers. Flow cytometry demonstrated significantly higher expression of GLI1 in cell population harvested from MGPM, which were highly proliferative. They also exhibited increased expression of the pluripotency markers.

Conclusion

Our study demonstrates that human adrenal cortex harbours a mesenchymal stem cell-like population. Understanding the cell biology of adrenal cortex- derived MSCs will inform regenerative medicine approaches in autoimmune Addison’s disease.

Open access

Fahim Ebrahimi, Sandrine A Urwyler, Philipp Schuetz, Beat Mueller, Luca Bernasconi, Peter Neyer, Marc Y Donath, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Background

Anti-inflammatory treatment with interleukin-1 (IL-1) antagonism decreases both cortisol and adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) levels in individuals with obesity in short term. However, it remains unknown whether these effects persist upon prolonged treatment.

Methods

In this double-blind, parallel-group trial involving patients with features of the metabolic syndrome, 33 patients were randomly assigned to receive 100 mg of anakinra (recombinant human IL-1 receptor antagonist) subcutaneously twice-daily and 34 patients to receive placebo for 4 weeks. For this analysis, change in cortisol and ACTH levels from baseline to 4 weeks were predefined end points of the trial.

Results

The mean age was 54 years, baseline cortisol levels were 314 nmol/L (IQR 241–385) and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were 3.4 mg/L (IQR 1.7–4.8). Treatment with anakinra led to a significant decrease in cortisol levels at day 1 when compared to placebo with an adjusted between-group difference of 28 nmol/L (95% CI, −7 to −43; P = 0.03). After 4 weeks, the cortisol-lowering effect of anakinra was attenuated and overall was statistically not significant (P = 0.72). Injection-site reactions occurred in 21 patients receiving anakinra and were associated with higher CRP and cortisol levels.

Conclusions

IL-1 antagonism decreases cortisol levels in male patients with obesity and chronic low-grade inflammation on the short term. After prolonged treatment, this effect is attenuated, probably due to injection-site reactions (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02672592).

Open access

Ferdinand Roelfsema, Diana van Heemst, Ali Iranmanesh, Paul Takahashi, Rebecca Yang, and Johannes D Veldhuis

Context

Studies on 24-h cortisol secretion are rare. The impact of sex, age and adiposity on cortisol levels, often restricted to one or a few samples, are well recognized, but conflicting.

Objective

To investigate cortisol dynamics in 143 healthy men and women, spanning 7 decades and with a 2-fold body mass index (BMI) range with different analytic tools.

Setting

Clinical Research Unit.

Design

Cortisol concentrations in 10-min samples collected for 24 h. Outcomes were mean levels, deconvolution parameters, approximate entropy (ApEn, regularity statistic) and 24-h rhythms.

Results

Total 24-h cortisol secretion rates estimated by deconvolution analysis were sex, age and BMI independent. Mean 24-h cortisol concentrations were lower in premenopausal women than those in men of comparable age (176 ± 8.2 vs 217 ± 9.4 nmol/L, P = 0.02), but not in subjects older than 50 years. This was due to lower daytime levels in women, albeit similar in the quiescent overnight period. Aging increased mean cortisol by 10 nmol/L per decade during the quiescent secretory phase and advanced the acrophase of the diurnal rhythm by 24 min/decade. However, total 24-h cortisol secretion rates estimated by deconvolution analysis were sex, age and BMI independent. ApEn of 24-h profiles was higher (more random) in premenopausal women than those in men (1.048 ± 0.025 vs 0.933 ± 0.023, P = 0.001), but not in subjects older than 50 years. ApEn peaked during the daytime.

Conclusion

Sex and age jointly determine the 24-h cortisol secretory profile. Sex effects are largely restricted to age <50 years, whereas age effects elevate concentrations in the late evening and early night and advance the timing of the peak diurnal rhythm.