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  1. — Gradual dose escalation had fewer adverse events, same therapeutic benefit, as quicker increases by Kristen Monaco, Staff Writer, MedPage Today May 27, 2021 A more gradual increase in oral osilodrostat (Isturisa) dosing was better tolerated among patients with Cushing's disease, compared with those who had more accelerated increases, a researcher reported. Looking at outcomes from two phase III trials assessing osilodrostat, only 27% of patients had hypocortisolism-related adverse events if dosing was gradually increased every 3 weeks, said Maria Fleseriu, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, in a presentation at the virtual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE). On the other hand, 51% of patients experienced a hypocortisolism-related adverse event if osilodrostat dose was increased to once every 2 weeks. Acting as a potent oral 11-beta-hydroxylase inhibitor, osilodrostat was first approved by the FDA in March 2020 for adults with Cushing's disease who either cannot undergo pituitary gland surgery or have undergone the surgery but still have the disease. The drug is currently available in 1 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg film-coated tablets. The approval came based off of the positive findings from the complementary LINC3 and LINC4 trials. The LINC3 trial included 137 adults with Cushing's disease with a mean 24-hour urinary free cortisol concentration (mUFC) over 1.5 times the upper limit of normal (50 μg/24 hours), along with morning plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone above the lower limit of normal (9 pg/mL). During the open-label, dose-escalation period, all the participants were given 2 mg of osilodrostat twice per day, 12 hours apart. Over this 12-week titration phase, dose escalations were allowed once every 2 weeks if there were no tolerability issues to achieve a maximum dose of 30 mg twice a day. After this 12-week dose-escalation schedule, additional bumps up in dose were permitted every 4 weeks. The median daily osilodrostat dose was 7.1 mg. The LINC4 trial included 73 patients with Cushing's disease with an mUFC over 1.3 times the upper limit of normal. The 48 patients randomized to receive treatment were likewise started on 2 mg bid of osilodrostat. However, this trial had a more gradual dose-escalation schedule, as doses were increased only every 3 weeks to achieve a 20 mg bid dose. After the 12-week dose-escalation phase, patients on a dose over 2 mg bid were restarted on 2 mg bid at week 12, where dose escalations were permitted once every 3 weeks thereafter to achieve a maximum 30 mg bid dose during this additional 36-week extension phase. Patients in this trial achieved a median daily osilodrostat dose of 5.0 mg. In both studies, patients' median age was about 40 years, the majority of patients were female, and about 88% had undergone a previous pituitary surgery. When comparing the adverse event profiles of both trials, Fleseriu and colleagues found that more than half of patients on the 2-week dose-escalation schedule experienced any grade of hypercortisolism-related adverse events. About 10.2% of these events were considered grade 3. About 28% of these patients had adrenal insufficiency -- the most common hypercortisolism-related adverse event reported. This was a catch-all term that include events like glucocorticoid deficiency, adrenocortical insufficiency, steroid withdrawal syndrome, and decreased cortisol, Fleseriu explained. Conversely, only 27.4% of patients on a 3-week dose escalation schedule experienced a hypercortisolism-related adverse event, and only 2.7% of these were grade 3. No grade 4 events occurred in either trial, and most events were considered mild or moderate in severity. "These adverse events were not associated with any specific osilodrostat dose of mean UFC level," Fleseriu said, adding that most of these events occurred during the initial dose-escalation periods. About 60% and 58% of all hypocortisolism-related adverse events occurred during the dose titration period in the 2-week and 3-week dose-escalation schedules, respectively. These events were managed via dose reduction, a temporary interruption in medication, and/or a concomitant medication. Very few patients in either trial permanently discontinued treatment due to these adverse events, Fleseriu noted. "Despite differences in the frequency of dose escalation, the time to first mUFC normalization was similar in the LINC3 and LINC4 studies," she said, adding that "gradual increases in osilodrostat dose from a starting dose of 2 mg bid can mitigate hypocortisolism-related adverse events without affecting mUFC control." "For patients with Cushing's disease, osilodrostat should be initiated at the recommended starting dose with incremental dose increases, based on individual response and tolerability aimed at normalizing cortisol levels," Fleseriu concluded. Kristen Monaco is a staff writer, focusing on endocrinology, psychiatry, and dermatology news. Based out of the New York City office, she’s worked at the company for nearly five years. Disclosures The LINC3 and LINC4 trials were funded by Novartis. Fleseriu reported relationships with Novartis, Recordati, and Strongbridge Biopharma. Primary Source American Association of Clinical Endocrinology Source Reference: Fleseriu M, et al "Effect of dosing and titration of osilodrostat on efficacy and safety in patients with Cushing's disease (CD): Results from two phase III trials (LINC3 and LINC4)" AACE 2021. From https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/aace/92824?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2021-05-28&eun=g1406328d0r&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily Headlines Top Cat HeC 2021-05-28&utm_term=NL_Daily_DHE_dual-gmail-definition
  2. Excess mortality among people with endogenous Cushing syndrome (CS) has declined in the past 20 years yet remains three times higher than in the general population, new research finds. Among more than 90,000 individuals with endogenous CS, the overall proportion of mortality ― defined as the ratio of the number of deaths from CS divided by the total number of CS patients ― was 0.05, and the standardized mortality rate was an "unacceptable" three times that of the general population, Padiporn Limumpornpetch, MD, reported on March 20 at ENDO 2021: The Endocrine Society Annual Meeting. Excess deaths were higher among those with adrenal CS compared to those with Cushing disease. The most common causes of death among those with CS were cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular accident, infection, and malignancy, noted Limumpornpetch, of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Thailand, who is also a PhD student at the University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom. "While mortality has improved since 2000, it is still significantly compromised compared to the background population.... The causes of death highlight the need for aggressive management of cardiovascular risk, prevention of thromboembolism, infection control, and a normalized cortisol level," she said. Asked to comment, Maria Fleseriu, MD, told Medscape Medical News that the new data show "we are making improvements in the care of patients with CS and thus outcomes, but we are not there yet.... This meta-analysis highlights the whole spectrum of acute and life-threatening complications in CS and their high prevalence, even before disease diagnosis and after successful surgery." She noted that although she wasn't surprised by the overall results, "the improvement over time was indeed lower than I expected. However, interestingly here, the risk of mortality in adrenal Cushing was unexpectedly high despite patients with adrenal cancer being excluded." Fleseriu, who is director of the Pituitary Center at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, advised, "Management of hyperglycemia and diabetes, hypertension, hypokalemia, hyperlipidemia, and other cardiovascular risk factors is generally undertaken in accordance with standard of clinical care. "But we should focus more on optimizing more aggressively this care in addition to the specific Cushing treatment," she stressed. In addition, she noted, "Medical therapy for CS may be needed even prior to surgery in severe and/or prolonged hypercortisolism to decrease complications.... We definitely need a multidisciplinary approach to address complications and etiologic treatment as well as the reduced long-term quality of life in patients with CS." Largest Study in Scale and Scope of Cushing Syndrome Mortality Endogenous Cushing syndrome occurs when the body overproduces cortisol. The most common cause of the latter is a tumor of the pituitary gland (Cushing disease), but another cause is a usually benign tumor of the adrenal glands (adrenal Cushing syndrome). Surgery is the mainstay of initial treatment of Cushing syndrome. If an operation to remove the tumor fails to cause remission, medications are available. Prior to this new meta-analysis, there had been limited data on mortality among patients with endogenous CS. Research has mostly been limited to single-cohort studies. A previous systematic review/meta-analysis comprised only seven articles with 780 patients. All the studies were conducted prior to 2012, and most were limited to Cushing disease. "In 2021, we lacked a detailed understanding of patient outcomes and mortality because of the rarity of Cushing syndrome," Limumpornpetch noted. The current meta-analysis included 91 articles that reported mortality among patients with endogenous CS. There was a total of 19,181 patients from 92 study cohorts, including 49 studies on CD (n = 14,971), 24 studies on adrenal CS (n = 2304), and 19 studies that included both CS types (n = 1906). Among 21 studies that reported standardized mortality rate (SMR) data, including 13 CD studies (n = 2160) and seven on adrenal CS (n = 1531), the overall increase in mortality compared to the background population was a significant 3.00 (range, 1.15 – 7.84). This SMR was higher among patients with adrenal Cushing syndrome (3.3) vs Cushing disease (2.8) (P = .003) and among patients who had active disease (5.7) vs those whose disease was in remission (2.3) (P < .001). The SMR also was worse among patients with Cushing disease with larger tumors (macroadenomas), at 7.4, than among patients with very small tumors (microadenomas), at 1.9 (P = .004). The proportion of death was 0.05 for CS overall, with 0.04 for CD and 0.02 for adrenal adenomas. Compared to studies published prior to the year 2000, more recent studies seem to reflect advances in treatment and care. The overall proportion of death for all CS cohorts dropped from 0.10 to 0.03 (P < .001); for all CD cohorts, it dropped from 0.14 to 0.03; and for adrenal CS cohorts, it dropped from 0.09 to 0.03 (P = .04). Causes of death were cardiovascular diseases (29.5% of cases), cerebrovascular accident (11.5%), infection (10.5%), and malignancy (10.1%). Less common causes of death were gastrointestinal bleeding and acute pancreatitis (3.7%), active CS (3.5%), adrenal insufficiency (2.5%), suicide (2.5%), and surgery (1.6%). Overall, in the CS groups, the proportion of deaths within 30 days of surgery dropped from 0.04 prior to 2000 to 0.01 since (P = .07). For CD, the proportion dropped from 0.02 to 0.01 (P = .25). Preventing Perioperative Mortality: Consider Thromboprophylaxis Fleseriu told Medscape Medical News that she believes hypercoagulability is "the least recognized complication with a big role in mortality." Because most of the perioperative mortality is due to venous thromboembolism and infections, "thromboprophylaxis should be considered for CS patients with severe hypercortisolism and/or postoperatively, based on individual risk factors of thromboembolism and bleeding." Recently, Fleseriu's group showed in a single retrospective study that the risk for arterial and venous thromboembolic events among patients with CS was approximately 20%. Many patients experienced more than one event. Risk was higher 30 to 60 days postoperatively. The odds ratio of venous thromoboembolism among patients with CS was 18 times higher than in the normal population. "Due to the additional thrombotic risk of surgery or any invasive procedure, anticoagulation prophylaxis should be at least considered in all patients with Cushing syndrome and balanced with individual bleeding risk," Fleseriu advised. A recent Pituitary Society workshop discussed the management of complications of CS at length; proceedings will be published soon, she noted. Limumpornpetch commented, "We look forward to the day when our interdisciplinary approach to managing these challenging patients can deliver outcomes similar to the background population." Limumpornpetch has disclosed no relevant financial relationships. Fleseriu has been a scientific consultant to Recordati, Sparrow, and Strongbridge and has received grants (inst) from Novartis and Strongbridge. ENDO 2021: The Endocrine Society Annual Meeting: Presented March 20, 2021 Miriam E. Tucker is a freelance journalist based in the Washington, DC, area. She is a regular contributor to Medscape. Other work of hers has appeared in the Washington Post, NPR's Shots blog, and Diabetes Forecast magazine. She can be found on Twitter @MiriamETucker. From https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/949257
  3. by Kristen Monaco, Staff Writer, MedPage Today LOS ANGELES -- An investigational therapy improved quality of life and reduced disease symptoms for patients with endogenous Cushing's syndrome, according to new findings from the phase III SONICS study. Patients taking oral levoketoconazole twice daily had significant reductions in mean scores for acne (-1.8), peripheral edema (-0.4), and hirsutism (-2.6), all secondary endpoints of the pivotal trial (P<0.03 for all), reported Maria Fleseriu, MD, of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. "We're looking forward to see the results of further studies and to add this therapy to the landscape of Cushing's," Fleseriu said here during a presentation of the findings at AACE 2019, the annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. "We have a newer medication and still we cannot make a dent in the outcomes of Cushing's, especially for patient-reported outcomes." Free testosterone levels significantly decreased in women taking levoketoconazole (a ketoconazole stereoisomer and potent steroidogenesis inhibitor), from an average of 0.32 ng/dL down to 0.12 ng/dL (0.011 to 0.004 nmol/L, P<0.0001). Men had a non-significant increase: 5.1 ng/dL up to 5.8 ng/dL (0.177 to 0.202 nmol/L). There were no significant changes from baseline to the end of maintenance for other secondary endpoints in the analysis: moon facies, facial plethora, striae, bruising, supraclavicular fat, irregular menstruation, and dysmenorrhea. However, significant improvements after 6 months of therapy were seen in patient-reported quality of life compared with baseline (mean 10.6 change on the Cushing QOL questionnaire) as well as a significant reduction in depressive symptoms (mean -4.3 change on the Beck Depression Inventory II). The open-label, multicenter SONICS (Study of Levoketoconazole in Cushing's Syndrome) trial included 94 adult men and women with a confirmed diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome and elevated 24-hour mean urinary free cortisol (mUFC) levels at least 1.5 times the upper limit of normal. In the dose-titration phase of the study (weeks 2 to 21), patients were titrated up to a max dose of 600 mg levoketoconazole twice daily until mUFC normalization. A 6-month maintenance phase followed with no dose increases, but decreases were allowed if adverse events emerged. An additional 6-month extended evaluation phase followed thereafter. The study met it's previously reported primary endpoint, with 30% of patients achieving normalized mUFC levels after 6 months of maintenance therapy without a dose increase (95% CI 21%-40%, P=0.0154). Levoketoconazole was well tolerated, with only 12.8% of patients discontinuing treatment due to adverse events. The most commonly reported adverse events were nausea (31.9%), headache (27.7%), peripheral edema (19.1%), hypertension (17%), and fatigue (16%), some of which were expected due to steroid withdrawal, Fleseriu said. Serious adverse events were reported in 14 patients, including prolonged QTc interval in two patients, elevated liver function in one patient, and adrenal insufficiency in another, events similar to those seen with ketoconazole (Nizoral) therapy. Fleseriu explained that drug-drug interaction is a problem in Cushing's, as all of the available medications prolong QT interval. She noted that in SONICS, QT prolongation with levoketoconazole was observed in few patients. It's still a "concern," said Fleseriu, especially for patients on other drugs that prolong QT. Although not yet approved, levoketoconazole has received orphan drug designation from the FDA and the European Medicines Agency for endogenous Cushing's syndrome. The tentative brand name is Recorlev. The study was supported by Strongbridge Biopharma. Fleseriu reported relationships with Strongbridge, Millendo Therapeutics, and Novartis. Co-authors also disclosed relevant relationships with industry. Primary Source American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists Source Reference: Fleseriu M, et al "Levoketoconazole in the treatment of endogenous Cushing's syndrome: Improvements in clinical signs and symptoms, patient-reported outcomes, and associated biochemical markers in the phase 3 SONICS study" AACE 2019; Poster 369. From https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/aace/79465
  4. The effects of obesity on the diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome and strategies to alter the traditional approaches have been addressed in a new review study. The study, “Diagnosis and Differential Diagnosis of Cushing’s Syndrome,” appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine. The author was Dr. Lynn D. Loriaux, MD and PhD, and a professor of medicine at the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Clinical Nutrition at the School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), in Portland, Oregon. Traditionally, exams of patients with glucocorticoid excess focused on the presence of changes in anabolism (the chemical synthesis of molecules). Given the increase in obesity in the general population, changes in anabolism can no longer distinguish Cushing’s syndrome from metabolic syndrome. However, analyses of anti-anabolic changes of cortisol – including osteopenia (lower bone density), thin skin, and ecchymoses (injury that causes subcutaneous bleeding) – are an effective way to make this distinction. The worldwide prevalence of metabolic syndrome in obese people is estimated at about 10%. Conversely, the incidence of undiagnosed Cushing’s syndrome is about 75 cases per 1 million people. Cushing’s and metabolic syndrome share significant clinical similarities, including obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, “making the diagnosis is the least certain aspect in the care of patients with [Cushing’s],” Loriaux wrote. Regarding a physical examination, patients with osteoporosis, reduced skin thickness in the middle finger, and three or more ecchymoses larger than 1 cm in diameter and not associated with trauma are more likely to have Cushing’s. Researchers estimate the probability of people with all three of these symptoms having Cushing’s syndrome is 95%. Measuring 24-hour urinary-free cortisol levels allows the assessment of excess glucocorticoid effects, typical of Cushing’s syndrome. The test, which should be done with the most stringent techniques available, averages the augmented secretion of cortisol in the morning and the diminished secretion in the afternoon and at night. Dexamethasone suppression is one of the currently used screening tests for Cushing’s syndrome. Patients with obesity and depression should not show decreased plasma cortisol levels when dexamethasone is suppressed. However, given its low estimated predictive value (the proportion of positive results that are “true positives”), “this test should not influence what the physician does next and should no longer be used” to screen for Cushing’s, the author wrote. Some patients may show evidence of Cushing’s syndrome at a physical examination, but low urinary free cortisol excretion. This may be due to glucocorticoids being administered to the patient. In this case, the glucocorticoid must be identified and discontinued. Periodic Cushing’s assessments that measure urinary free cortisol should be performed. The opposite can also occur: no clinical symptoms of Cushing’s, but elevated urinary free cortisol excretion and detectable plasma levels of the hormone corticotropin. In these patients, the source of corticotropin secretion, which can be a tumor or the syndrome of generalized glucocorticoid resistance, must be determined. The disease process can be corticotropin-dependent or independent, depending on whether the hormone is detectable. Corticotropin in Cushing’s syndrome can come from the pituitary gland (eutopic) or elsewhere in the body (ectopic). Loriaux recommends that the source of corticotropin secretion be determined before considering surgery. Up to 40% of patients with pituitary adenomas have nonfunctioning tumors (the tumor does not produce any hormones) and the corticotropin source is elsewhere. If misdiagnosed, patients will likely undergo an unnecessary surgery, with a mortality rate of 1%. Patients with an ectopic source of corticotropin should undergo imaging studies in the chest, followed by abdominal and pelvic organs. If these tests fail to detect the source, patients should undergo either the blockade of cortisol synthesis or an adrenalectomy (removal of adrenal glands). However, corticotropin-independent Cushing’s is usually caused by a benign adrenal tumor that uniquely secretes cortisol. “Such tumors can be treated successfully with laparoscopic adrenalectomy,” Loriaux wrote. If the tumor secretes more than one hormone, it is likely malignant. Surgical to remove the tumor and any detectable metastases should be conducted. Overall, “the treatment for all causes of [Cushing’s syndrome], other than exogenous glucocorticoids, is surgical, and neurosurgeons, endocrine surgeons, and cancer surgeons are needed,” Loriaux wrote in the study. “This level of multidisciplinary medical expertise is usually found only at academic medical centers. Thus, most, if not all, patients with [Cushing’s syndrome] should be referred to such a center for treatment.” From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2017/10/24/diagnosing-cushings-syndrome-amid-challenge-of-obesity-and-strategies-to-improve-methods/
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