The introduction of adrenocortical extract in 1930 improved the life expectancy of hyhpoadrenal patients, with further increases seen after the introduction of cortisone acetate from 1948. Most patients are now treated with synthetic hydrocortisone, and incremental advances have been made with optimisation of daily dosing and the introduction of multidose regimens. There remains a significant mortality gap between individuals with treated hypoadrenalism and the general population. It is unclear whether this gap is a result of glucocorticoid over-replacement, under-replacement or loss of the circadian and ultradian rhythm of cortisol secretion, with the risk of detrimental excess glucocorticoid exposure at later times in the day. The way forwards will involve replacement of the diurnal cortisol rhythm with better glucocorticoid replacement regimens. The steroid profile produced by both prednisolone and dual-release hydrocortisone (Plenadren), provide a smoother glucocorticoid profile of cortisol than standard oral multidose regimens of hydrocortisone and cortisone acetate. The individualisation of prednisolone doses and lower bioavailability of Plenadren offer reductions in total steroid exposure. Although there is emerging evidence of both treatments offering better cardiometabolic outcomes than standard glucocorticoid replacement regimens, there is a paucity of evidence involving very low dose prednisolone (2–4 mg daily) compared to the larger doses (~7.5 mg) historically used. Data from upcoming clinical studies on prednisolone will therefore be of key importance in informing future practice.
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Sirazum Choudhury, Tricia Tan, Katharine Lazarus, and Karim Meeran
Hanna F Nowotny, Jillian Bryce, Salma R Ali, Roberta Giordano, Federico Baronio, Irina Chifu, Lea Tschaidse, Martine Cools, Erica LT van den Akker, Henrik Falhammar, Natasha M Appelman-Dijkstra, Luca Persani, Guglielmo Beccuti, Ian L Ross, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Alberto M Pereira, Eystein S Husebye, Stefanie Hahner, S Faisal Ahmed, and Nicole Reisch
Information on clinical outcomes of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) infection in patients with adrenal disorders is scarce.
A collaboration between the European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) Rare Disease Committee and European Reference Network on Rare Endocrine Conditions via the European Registries for Rare Endocrine Conditions allowed the collection of data on 64 cases (57 adrenal insufficiency (AI), 7 Cushing’s syndrome) that had been reported by 12 centres in 8 European countries between January 2020 and December 2021.
Of all 64 patients, 23 were males and 41 females (13 of those children) with a median age of 37 and 51 years. In 45/57 (95%) AI cases, COVID-19 infection was confirmed by testing. Primary insufficiency was present in 45/57 patients; 19 were affected by Addison’s disease, 19 by congenital adrenal hyperplasia and 7 by primary AI (PAI) due to other causes. The most relevant comorbidities were hypertension (12%), obesity (n = 14%) and diabetes mellitus (9%). An increase by a median of 2.0 (IQR 1.4) times the daily replacement dose was reported in 42 (74%) patients. Two patients were administered i.m. injection of 100 mg hydrocortisone, and 11/64 were admitted to the hospital. Two patients had to be transferred to the intensive care unit, one with a fatal outcome. Four patients reported persistent SARS-CoV-2 infection, all others complete remission.
This European multicentre questionnaire is the first to collect data on the outcome of COVID-19 infection in patients with adrenal gland disorders. It suggests good clinical outcomes in case of duly dose adjustments and emphasizes the importance of patient education on sick day rules.
Boni Xiang, Ran Tao, Xinhua Liu, Xiaoming Zhu, Min He, Zengyi Ma, Yehong Yang, Zhaoyun Zhang, Yiming Li, Zhenwei Yao, Yongfei Wang, and Hongying Ye
The aim of this study was to evaluate thyroid functions in Cushing’s syndrome (CS), the dynamic changes of thyroid hormones and antithyroid antibodies in Cushing’s disease (CD) pre- and postoperatively.
Design and methods
This is a retrospective study enrolling 118 patients with CS (102 CD, 10 adrenal CS and 6 ectopic adrenocorticotropic syndrome (EAS)). Thyroid functions (thyroid-stimulation hormone (TSH), T3, free T3 (FT3), T4 and free T4 (FT4)) were measured in all CS at the time of diagnosis and in all CD 3 months after transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection. Postoperative hormone monitoring within 3 months was conducted in 9 CD patients completing remission. Twenty-eight remitted CD patients experienced hormone and antithyroid antibody evaluation preoperatively and on the 3rd, 6th and 12th month after surgery.
TSH, T3 and FT3 were below the reference range in 31%, 69% and 44% of the 118 CS patients. Remitted CD patients (81/102) had significantly higher TSH (P = 0.000), T3 (P = 0.000) and FT3 (P = 0.000) than those in the non-remission group (21/102). After remission of CD, TSH, T3 and FT3 showed a significant increase, with a few cases above the reference range. By 12 months, most CD patients’ thyroid functions returned to normal. Thyroid hormones (including TSH, T3 and FT3) were negatively associated with serum cortisol levels both before and after surgery. No significant changes of antithyroid autoantibodies were observed.
TSH, T3 and FT3 are suppressed in endogenous hypercortisolemia. After remission of CD, TSH, T3 and FT3 increased significantly, even above the reference range, but returned to normal 1 year after surgery in most cases. Antithyroid antibodies did not change significantly after remission of CD.
Fiona Broughton Pipkin, Hiten D Mistry, Chandrima Roy, Bernhard Dick, Jason Waugh, Rebecca Chikhi, Lesia O Kurlak, and Markus G Mohaupt
Pre-eclampsia leads to disturbed fetal organ development, including metabolic syndrome, attributed to altered pituitary-adrenal feedback loop. We measured cortisol metabolites in infants born from pre-eclamptic and normotensive women and hypothesised that glucocorticoid exposure would be exaggerated in the former. Twenty-four hour urine was collected from infants at months 3 and 12. Cortisol metabolites and apparent enzyme activities were analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. From 3 to 12 months, excretion of THS, THF and pregnandiol had risen in both groups; THF also rose in the pre-eclamptic group. No difference was observed with respect to timing of the visit or to hypertensive status for THE or total F metabolites (P>0.05). All apparent enzymes activities, except 17α-hydroxylase, were lower in infants at 12 compared to 3 months in the normotensive group. In the pre-eclamptic group, only 11β-HSD activities were lower at 12 months.17α-hydroxylase and 11β-HSD activities of tetrahydro metabolites were higher in the pre-eclamptic group at 3 months (P<0.05). 11β-hydroxylase activity increased in the pre-eclamptic group at 12 months. Cortisol excretion, determined by increased 11β-hydroxylase, compensates for high 11β-HSD-dependent cortisol degradation at 3 months and at 12 months counterbalances the reduced cortisol substrate availability in infants born from pre-eclamptic mothers.
Paal Methlie, Steinar Hustad, Ralf Kellman, Bjørg Almås, Martina M Erichsen, Eystein S Husebye, and Kristian Løvås
Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) offers superior analytical specificity compared with immunoassays, but it is not available in many regions and hospitals due to expensive instrumentation and tedious sample preparation. Thus, we developed an automated, high-throughput LC–MS/MS assay for simultaneous quantification of ten endogenous and synthetic steroids targeting diseases of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and gonads.
Deuterated internal standards were added to 85 μl serum and processed by liquid–liquid extraction. Cortisol, cortisone, prednisolone, prednisone, 11-deoxycortisol, dexamethasone, testosterone, androstenedione and progesterone were resolved by ultra-high-pressure chromatography on a reversed-phase column in 6.1 min and detected by triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry. The method was used to assess steroid profiles in women with Addison's disease (AD, n=156) and blood donors (BDs, n=102).
Precisions ranged from 4.5 to 10.1% relative standard deviations (RSD), accuracies from 95 to 108% and extraction recoveries from 60 to 84%. The method was practically free of matrix effects and robust to individual differences in serum composition. Most postmenopausal AD women had extremely low androstenedione concentrations, below 0.14 nmol/l, and median testosterone concentrations of 0.15 nmol/l (interquartile range 0.00–0.41), considerably lower than those of postmenopausal BDs (1.28 nmol/l (0.96–1.64) and 0.65 nmol/l (0.56–1.10) respectively). AD women in fertile years had androstenedione concentrations of 1.18 nmol/l (0.71–1.76) and testosterone concentrations of 0.44 nmol/l (0.22–0.63), approximately half of those found in BDs of corresponding age.
This LC–MS/MS assay provides highly sensitive and specific assessments of glucocorticoids and androgens with low sample volumes and is suitable for endocrine laboratories and research. Its utility has been demonstrated in a large cohort of women with AD, and the data suggest that women with AD are particularly androgen deficient after menopause.
Yiyan Wang, Yaoyao Dong, Yinghui Fang, Yao Lv, Qiqi Zhu, Xiaoheng Li, Qingquan Lian, and Ren-Shan Ge
Glucocorticoid hormone might cause intrauterine growth restriction. The glucocorticoid-metabolizing enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 2 (HSD11B2) in the placenta eliminates excess levels of glucocorticoids during pregnancy. The aim of the current study was to define the effects of diethylstilbestrol (DES) on HSD11B2 activity in the mammalian placentas and identify its mode of action. Rat and human placental microsomal HSD11B2 were incubated with different concentrations of DES, and IC50 values were determined. The mode of action was analyzed by incubation of DES together with substrates, glucocorticoid and NAD+. DES suppressed rat and human HSD11B2 with IC50 values of 5.33 and 12.62 μM, respectively. DES was a competitive inhibitor of rat and human HSD11B2 when steroid substrates were added, while it was an uncompetitive inhibitor when cofactor NAD+ was exposed. Oral administration of DES (0.5 mg/kg) to the rat delayed the cortisol metabolism in adult female Sprague–Dawley rats, as indicated by the increases in cortisol’s elimination half-life, maximum concentration and area under the curve. In conclusion, DES is a potent HSD11B2 inhibitor, possibly contributing to the intrauterine growth restriction.
Grethe Å Ueland, Thea Grinde, Paal Methlie, Oskar Kelp, Kristian Løvås, and Eystein S Husebye
Autonomous cortisol secretion (ACS) is a condition with ACTH-independent cortisol overproduction from adrenal incidentalomas (AI) or adrenal hyperplasia. The hypercortisolism is often mild, and most patients lack typical clinical features of overt Cushing’s syndrome (CS). ACS is not well defined and diagnostic tests lack validation.
Retrospective study of 165 patients with AI evaluated clinically and by assay of morning plasma ACTH, late-night saliva cortisol, serum DHEA sulphate (DHEAS), 24-h urine-free cortisol, and cortisol after dexamethasone suppression.
Patients with AI (n = 165) were diagnosed as non-functioning incidentalomas (NFI) (n = 82) or ACS (n = 83) according to current European guidelines. Late-night saliva cortisol discriminated poorly between NFI and ACS, showing a high rate of false-positive (23/63) and false-negative (38/69) results. The conventional low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (LDDST) did not improve the diagnostic specificity, compared with the 1 mg overnight DST. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis of DHEAS in the two cohorts demonstrated an area under the curve of 0.76 (P < 0.01) with a sensitivity for ACS of 58% and a specificity of 80% using the recommended cutoff at 1.04 µmol/L (40 µg/dL).
We here demonstrate in a large retrospective cohort of incidentaloma patients, that neither DHEAS, late-night saliva cortisol nor 24-h urine free cortisol are useful to discriminate between non-functioning adrenal incidentalomas and ACS. The conventional LDDST do not add further information compared with the 1 mg overnight DST. Alternative biomarkers are needed to improve the diagnostic workup of ACS.
Jingya Zhou, Meng Zhang, Lin Lu, Xiaopeng Guo, Lu Gao, Weigang Yan, Haiyu Pang, Yi Wang, and Bing Xing
To investigate the validity of discharge ICD-10 codes in detecting the etiology of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in hospitalized patients.
We evaluated the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of CS etiology-related ICD-10 codes or code combinations by comparing hospital discharge administrative data (DAD) with established diagnoses from medical records.
Coding for patients with adrenocortical adenoma (ACA) and those with bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia (BMAH) demonstrated disappointingly low sensitivity at 78.8% (95% CI: 70.1–85.6%) and 83.9% (95% CI: 65.5–93.9%), respectively. BMAH had the lowest PPV of 74.3% (95% CI: 56.4–86.9%). In confirmed ACA patients, the sensitivity for ACA code combinations was higher in patients initially admitted to the Department of Endocrinology before surgery than that in patients directly admitted to the Department of Urology (90.0 vs 73.1%, P = 0.033). The same phenomenon was observed in the PPV for the BMAH code (100.0 vs 60.9%, P = 0.012). Misinterpreted or confusing situations caused by coders (68.1%) and by the omission or denormalized documentation of symptomatic diagnosis by clinicians (26.1%) accounted for the main source of coding errors.
Hospital DAD is an effective data source for evaluating the etiology of CS but not ACA and BMAH. Improving surgeons’ documentation, especially in the delineation of symptomatic and locative diagnoses in discharge abstracts; department- or disease-specific training for coders and more multidisciplinary collaboration are ways to enhance the applicability of administrative data for CS etiologies.
Kamran Iqbal, Kate Halsby, Robert D Murray, Paul V Carroll, and Robert Petermann
Background and objectives
Glucocorticoids are used to manage adrenal insufficiency (AI). We describe treatments used in the United Kingdom and real-world clinical outcomes for each treatment.
We used 2010–2016 primary care data from The Health Improvement Network (THIN). Descriptive analyses were conducted, and differences in variables between patients prescribed immediate-release hydrocortisone (IR HC), prednisolone or modified-release hydrocortisone (MR HC) were assessed using Fisher’s exact test.
Overall, 2648 patients were included: 1912 on IR HC (72%), 691 on prednisolone (26%) and 45 (2%) on MR HC. A total of 1174 (44.3%) had primary and 1150 (43.4%) had secondary AI. Patients on prednisolone were older (P < 0.001) and had a greater history of smoking (292/691, P < 0.001) and CVD (275/691, P < 0.001). Patients on MR HC had more PCOS (3/45, P = 0.001) and diabetes (27/45, P = 0.004). The number of GP visits/patient/year was 6.50 in IR HC, 9.54 in prednisolone and 9.11 in MR HC cohorts. The mean number of A&E visits and inpatient and outpatient hospital admissions ranged from 0.42 to 0.93 visits/patient/year. The mean number of adrenal crises/patient/year was between 0.02 and 0.03 for all cohorts.
IR HC is most commonly used for the management of AI in the United Kingdom, followed by prednisolone. Few patients receive MR HC. The prednisolone and MR HC cohorts displayed a greater prevalence of vascular risk factors compared with IR HC. The occurrence of AC and primary and secondary resource use were similar between treatment cohorts, and they indicate significant resource utilisation. Improved treatment and management of patients with AI is needed.
V Guarnotta, C Di Stefano, A Santoro, A Ciresi, A Coppola, and C Giordano
Dual-release hydrocortisone (DR-HC) improves metabolism in patients with adrenal insufficiency. The aims of this study were to compare the cardiovascular and metabolic effects of conventional glucocorticoids (GCs) vs. DR-HC and of high vs. low doses of GCs, after 48 months of observation.
We selected 27 patients on hydrocortisone (mean dose 17.5 ± 4.2 mg/day) and 20 patients on cortisone acetate (mean dose 37.5 ± 12.1 mg/day) who maintained this treatment (group A) and 53 patients switched to DR-HC (mean dose 22 ± 4.8 mg/day) (group B). At baseline and after 48 months, clinical and metabolic parameters and Framingham Risk Score (FRS) were obtained.
After 48 months, patients in group A had a significant increase from baseline in BMI (P < 0.001), waist circumference (P = 0.001), systolic blood pressure (P = 0.001), LDL cholesterol (P = 0.018), HbA1c (P = 0.020) and FRS (P = 0.002). By contrast, patients in group B had a significant decrease in BMI (P = 0.002), waist circumference (P = 0.015), diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.031), total (P = 0.006) and LDL cholesterol (P = 0.005), HbA1c (P < 0.001) and FRS (P = 0.015) compared to baseline. No significant differences between high and low doses of both conventional GCs and DR-HC were observed.
DR-HC is associated with an improvement of metabolic parameters and cardiovascular risk compared to conventional GCs, which are associated with a worsening of these parameters, regardless of the dose used.