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  1. This article is based on reporting that features expert sources. Adrenal Fatigue: Is It Real? More You may have heard of so-called 'adrenal fatigue,' supposedly caused by ongoing emotional stress. Or you might have come across adrenal support supplements sold online to treat it. But if someone suggests you have the controversial, unproven condition, seek a second opinion, experts say. And if someone tries to sell you dietary supplements or other treatments for adrenal fatigue, be safe and save your money. (GETTY IMAGES) Physicians tend to talk about 'reaching' or 'making' a medical diagnosis. However, when it comes to adrenal fatigue, endocrinologists – doctors who specialize in diseases involving hormone-secreting glands like the adrenals – sometimes use language such as 'perpetrating a diagnosis,' 'misdiagnosis,' 'made-up diagnosis,' 'a fallacy' and 'nonsense.' About 20 years ago, the term "adrenal fatigue" was coined by Dr. James Wilson, a chiropractor. Since then, certain practitioners and marketers have promoted the notion that chronic stress somehow slows or shuts down the adrenal glands, causing excessive fatigue. "The phenomenon emerged from the world of integrative medicine and naturopathic medicine," says Dr. James Findling, a professor of medicine and director of the Community Endocrinology Center and Clinics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "It has no scientific basis, and there's no merit to it as a clinical diagnosis." An online search of medical billing code sets in the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases, or the ICD-10, does not yield a diagnostic code for 'adrenal fatigue' among the 331 diagnoses related either to fatigue or adrenal conditions or procedures. In a March 2020 position statement, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology addressed the use of adrenal supplements "to treat common nonspecific symptoms due to 'adrenal fatigue,' an entity that has not been recognized as a legitimate diagnosis." The position statement warned of known and unknown health risks of off-label use and misuse of hormones and supplements in patients without an established endocrine diagnosis, as well as unnecessary costs to patients and the overall health care system. Study after study has refuted the legitimacy of adrenal fatigue as a medical diagnosis. An August 2016 systematic review combined and analyzed data from 58 studies on adrenal fatigue including more than 10,000 participants. The conclusion in a nutshell: "Adrenal fatigue does not exist," according to review authors in the journal BMC Endocrine Disorders. Adrenal Action You have two adrenal glands in your body. These small triangular glands, one on top of each kidney, produce essential hormones such as aldosterone, cortisol and male sex hormones such as DHEA and testosterone. Cortisol helps regulate metabolism: How your body uses fat, protein and carbohydrates from food, and cortisol increases blood sugar as needed. It also plays a role in controlling blood pressure, preventing inflammation and regulating your sleep/wake cycle. As your body responds to stress, cortisol increases. This response starts with signals between two sections in the brain: The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which act together to release a hormone that stimulates the adrenal glands to make cortisol. This interactive unit is called the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis. While some health conditions really do affect the body's cortisol-making ability, adrenal fatigue isn't among them. "There's no evidence to support that adrenal fatigue is an actual medical condition," says Dr. Mary Vouyiouklis Kellis, a staff endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. "There's no stress connection in the sense that someone's adrenal glands will all of a sudden just stop producing cortisol because they're so inundated with emotional stress." If anything, adrenal glands are workhorses that rise to the occasion when chronic stress occurs. "The last thing in the body that's going to fatigue are your adrenal glands," says Dr. William F. Young Jr., an endocrinology clinical professor and professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "Adrenal glands are built for stress – that's what they do. Adrenal glands don't fatigue. This is made up – it's a fallacy." The idea of adrenal glands crumbling under stress is "ridiculous," Findling agrees. "In reality, if you take a person and subject them to chronic stress, the adrenal glands don't shut down at all," Findling says. "They keep making cortisol – it's a stress hormone. In fact, the adrenal glands are just like the Energizer Bunny – they just keep going. They don't stop." Home cortisol tests that allow consumers to check their own levels can be misleading, Findling says. "Some providers who make this (adrenal fatigue) diagnosis, provide patients with testing equipment for doing saliva cortisol levels throughout the day," he says. "And then, regardless of what the results are, they perpetrate this diagnosis of adrenal fatigue." Saliva cortisol is a legitimate test that's frequently used in diagnosing Cushing's syndrome, or overactive adrenal glands, Findling notes. However, he says, a practitioner pursuing an adrenal fatigue diagnosis could game the system. "What they do is: They shape a very narrow normal range, so narrow, in fact, that no normal human subject could have all their saliva cortisol (levels) within that range throughout the course of the day," he says. "Then they convince the poor patients that they have adrenal fatigue phenomena and put them on some kind of adrenal support." Loaded Supplements How do you know what you're actually getting if you buy a dietary supplement marketed for adrenal fatigue or 'adrenal support' use? To find out, researchers purchased 12 such supplements over the counter in the U.S. Laboratory tests revealed that all supplements contained a small amount of thyroid hormone and most contained at least one steroid hormone, according to the study published in the March 2018 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. "These results may highlight potential risks for hidden ingredients in unregulated supplements," the authors concluded. Supplements containing thyroid hormones or steroids can interact with a patient's prescribed medications or have other side effects. "Some people just assume they have adrenal fatigue because they looked it up online when they felt tired and they ultimately buy these over-the-counter supplements that can be very dangerous at times," Vouyiouklis Kellis says. "Some of them contain animal (ingredients), like bovine adrenal extract. That can suppress the pituitary axis. So, as a result, your body stops making its own cortisol or starts making less of it, and as a result, you can actually worsen the condition rather than make it better." Any form of steroid from outside the body, whether a prescription drug like prednisone or extract from cows' adrenal glands, "can shut off the pituitary," Vouyiouklis Kellis explains. "Because it's signaling to the pituitary like: Hey, you don't need to stimulate the adrenals to make cortisol, because this patient is taking it already. So, as a result, the body ultimately doesn't produce as much. And, so, if you rapidly withdraw that steroid or just all of a sudden decide not to take it anymore, then you can have this acute response of low cortisol." Some adrenal support products, such as herbal-only supplements, may be harmless. However, they're unlikely to relieve chronic fatigue. Fatigue: No Easy Answers If you're suffering from ongoing fatigue, it's frustrating. And you're not alone. "I have fatigue," Young Jr. says. "Go to the lobby any given day and say, 'Raise your hand if you have fatigue.' Most of the people are going to raise their hands. It's a common human symptom and people would like an easy answer for it. Usually there's not an easy answer. I think 'adrenal fatigue' is attractive because it's like: Aha, here's the answer." There aren't that many causes of endocrine-related fatigue, Young Jr. notes. "Hypothyroidism – when the thyroid gland is not working – is one." Addison's disease, or adrenal insufficiency, can also lead to fatigue among a variety of other symptoms. Established adrenal conditions – like adrenal insufficiency – need to be treated. "In adrenal insufficiency, there is an intrinsic problem in the adrenal gland's inability to produce cortisol," Vouyiouklis Kellis explains. "That can either be a primary problem in the adrenal gland or an issue with the pituitary gland not being able to stimulate the adrenal to make cortisol." Issues can arise even with necessary medications. "For example, very commonly, people are put on steroids for various reasons: allergies, ear, nose and throat problems," Vouyiouklis Kellis says. "And with the withdrawal of the steroids, they can ultimately have adrenal insufficiency, or decrease in cortisol." Opioid medications for pain also result in adrenal sufficiency, Vouyiouklis Kellis says, adding that this particular side effect is rarely discussed. People with a history of autoimmune disease can also be at higher risk for adrenal insufficiency. Common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency include: Fatigue. Weight loss. Decreased appetite. Salt cravings. Low blood pressure. Abdominal pain. Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Muscle weakness. Hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin). Irritability. Medical tests for adrenal insufficiency start with blood cortisol levels, and tests for the ACTH hormone that stimulates the pituitary gland. "If the person does not have adrenal insufficiency and they're still fatigued, it's important to get to the bottom of it," Vouyiouklis Kellis says. Untreated sleep apnea often turns out to be the actual cause, she notes. "It's very important to tease out what's going on," Vouyiouklis Kellis emphasizes. "It can be multifactorial – multiple things contributing to the patient's feeling of fatigue." The blood condition anemia – a lack of healthy red blood cells – is another potential cause. "If you are fatigued, do not treat yourself," Vouyiouklis Kellis says. "Please seek a physician or a primary care provider for evaluation, because you don't want to go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. It's very important to rule out actual causes that would be contributing to symptoms rather than ordering supplements online or seeking an alternative route like self-treating rather than being evaluated first." SOURCES The U.S. News Health team delivers accurate information about health, nutrition and fitness, as well as in-depth medical condition guides. All of our stories rely on multiple, independent sources and experts in the field, such as medical doctors and licensed nutritionists. To learn more about how we keep our content accurate and trustworthy, read our editorial guidelines. James Findling, MD Findling is a professor of medicine and director of the Community Endocrinology Center and Clinics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Mary Vouyiouklis Kellis, MD Vouyiouklis Kellis is a staff endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. William F. Young Jr., MD Young Jr. is an endocrinology clinical professor and professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota From https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/adrenal-fatigue-is-it-real?
  2. An assessment of free cortisol after a dexamethasone suppression test could add value to the diagnostic workup of hypercortisolism, which can be plagued by false-positive results, according to data from a cross-sectional study. A 1 mg dexamethasone suppression test (DST) is a standard of care endocrine test for evaluation of adrenal masses and for patients suspected to have endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. Interpretation of a DST is affected by dexamethasone absorption and metabolism; several studies suggest a rate of 6% to 20% of false-positive results because of inadequate dexamethasone concentrations or differences in the proportion of cortisol bound to corticosteroid-binding globulin affecting total cortisol concentrations. Source: Adobe Stock “As the prevalence of adrenal adenomas is around 5% to 7% in adults undergoing an abdominal CT scan, it is important to accurately interpret the DST,” Irina Bancos, MD, associate professor in the division of endocrinology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told Healio. “False-positive DST results are common, around 15% of cases, and as such, additional or second-line testing is often considered by physicians, including measuring dexamethasone concentrations at the time of the DST, repeating DST or performing DST with a higher dose of dexamethasone. We hypothesized that free cortisol measurements during the DST will be more accurate than total cortisol measurements, especially among those treated with oral contraceptive therapy.” Diverse cohort analyzed Bancos and colleagues analyzed data from adult volunteers without adrenal disorders (n = 168; 47 women on oral contraceptive therapy) and participants undergoing evaluation for hypercortisolism (n = 196; 16 women on oral contraceptives). The researchers assessed levels of post-DST dexamethasone and free cortisol, using mass spectrometry, and total cortisol, via immunoassay. The primary outcome was a reference range for post-DST free cortisol levels and the diagnostic accuracy of post-DST total cortisol level. Irina Bancos “A group that presents a particular challenge are women treated with oral estrogen,” Bancos told Healio. “In these cases, total cortisol increases due to estrogen-stimulated cortisol-binding globulin production, potentially leading to false-positive DST results. We intentionally designed our study to include a large reference group of women treated with oral contraceptive therapy allowing us to develop normal ranges of post-DST total and free cortisol, and then apply these cutoffs to the clinical practice.” Researchers observed adequate dexamethasone concentrations ( 0.1 µg/dL) in 97.6% of healthy volunteers and in 96.3% of patients. Among women volunteers taking oral contraceptives, 25.5% had an abnormal post-DST total cortisol measurement, defined as a cortisol level of at least 1.8 µg/dL. Among healthy volunteers, the upper post-DST free cortisol range was 48 ng/dL in men and women not taking oral contraceptives, and 79 ng/dL for women taking oral contraceptives. Compared with post-DST free cortisol, diagnostic accuracy of post-DST total cortisol level was 87.3% (95% CI, 81.7-91.7). All false-positive results occurred among patients with a post-DST cortisol level between 1.8 µg/dL and 5 µg/dL, according to researchers. Oral contraceptive use was the only factor associated with false-positive results (21.1% vs. 4.9%; P = .02). Findings challenge guidelines Natalia Genere “We were surprised by several findings of our study,” Natalia Genere, MD, instructor in medicine in the division of endocrinology, metabolism and lipid research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, told Healio. “First, we saw that with a standardized patient instruction on DST, we found that optimal dexamethasone concentrations were reached in a higher proportion of patients than previously reported (97%), suggesting that rapid metabolism or poor absorption of dexamethasone may play a lower role in the rate of false positives. Second, we found that measurements of post-DST total cortisol in women taking oral contraceptive therapy accurately excluded [mild autonomous cortisol secretion] in three-quarters of patients, suggesting discontinuation of oral contraceptives, as suggested in prior guidelines, may not be routinely necessary.” Genere said post-DST free cortisol performed “much better” than total cortisol among women treated with oral estrogen. Stepwise approach recommended Based on the findings, the authors suggested a sequential approach to dexamethasone suppression in clinical practice. “We recommend a stepwise approach to enhance DST interpretation, with the addition of dexamethasone concentration and/or free cortisol in cases of abnormal post-DST total cortisol,” Bancos said. “We found dexamethasone concentrations are particularly helpful when post-DST total cortisol is at least 5 µg/dL and free cortisol is helpful in a patient with optimal dexamethasone concentrations and a post-DST total cortisol between 1.8 µg/dL and 5 µg/dL. We believe that DST with free cortisol is a useful addition to the repertoire of available testing for [mild autonomous cortisol secretion], and that its use reduces need for repetitive assessments and patient burden of care, especially in women treated with oral contraceptive therapy.” PERSPECTIVE BACK TO TOP Ricardo Correa, MD, EsD, FACE, FACP, CMQ In the evaluation of endogenous Cushing’s disease, the guideline algorithm recommends two of three positive tests — 24-hour free urine cortisol, late midnight salivary cortisol level and 1 mg dexamethasone suppression test, or DST — for diagnosing hypercortisolism. Of those tests, the most accurate to detect adrenal secretion of cortisol when a patient may have an adrenal incidentaloma is the 1 mg DST. The caveat with this specific test is that it is affected by dexamethasone absorption and metabolism and the proportion of cortisol bound to corticosteroid-binding globulin. Up to 20% of these tests report false-positive findings. This study by Genere and colleagues aimed to determine the normal range of free cortisol during the 1 mg DST. The researchers conducted a prospective, cross-sectional study that included volunteers without adrenal disorders and patients assessed for cortisol excess for clinical reasons. In the volunteer group, 168 volunteers were enrolled, including 47 women that were taking oral contraceptives. After excluding patients with inadequate dexamethasone levels and other outliers, the post-DST free cortisol maximum level was less than 48 ng/dL for men and women who were not taking oral contraceptive pills and less than 79 ng/dL for women taking oral contraceptive pills. In the patient group, 100% of post-DST free cortisol levels were above the upper limit of normal among those with a post-DST cortisol of at least 5 µg/dL; however, this was true for only 70.7% of those with post-DST cortisol between 1.8 µg/dL and 5 µg/dL. This study found that a post-DST free cortisol assessment is helpful in patients with a post-DST total cortisol between 1.8 µg/dL and 5 µg/dL, but was not beneficial for patients with a post-DST total cortisol of less than 1.8 µg/dL or more than 5 µg/dL. Performing free cortisol assessments in this subgroup will reduce the number of false positives. The authors recommend performing a 1 mg post-DST free cortisol analysis for this subgroup; the levels to confirm cortisol excess are at least 48 ng/dL in men and women not taking oral contraceptive pills and at least 79 ng/dL for women taking oral contraceptive pills. Furthermore, the study presents a stepwise approach algorithm that will be very useful for clinical practice. Ricardo Correa, MD, EsD, FACE, FACP, CMQ Endocrine Today Editorial Board Member Program Director of Endocrinology Fellowship and Director for Diversity University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix Phoenix Veterans Affairs Medical Center Disclosures: Correa reports no relevant financial disclosures. From https://www.healio.com/news/endocrinology/20211117/free-cortisol-evaluation-useful-after-abnormal-dexamethasone-test
  3. Any condition that causes the adrenal gland to produce excessive cortisol results in the disorder Cushing's syndrome. Cushing syndrome is characterized by facial and torso obesity, high blood pressure, stretch marks on the belly, weakness, osteoporosis, and facial hair growth in females. Cushing's syndrome has many possible causes including tumors within the adrenal gland, adrenal gland stimulating hormone (ACTH) produced from cancer such as lung cancer, and ACTH excessively produced from a pituitary tumors within the brain. ACTH is normally produced by the pituitary gland (located in the center of the brain) to stimulate the adrenal glands' natural production of cortisol, especially in times of stress. When a pituitary tumor secretes excessive ACTH, the disorder resulting from this specific form of Cushing's syndrome is referred to as Cushing's disease. As an aside, it should be noted that doctors will sometimes describe certain patients with features identical to Cushing's syndrome as having 'Cushingoid' features. Typically, these features are occurring as side effects of cortisone-related medications, such as prednisone and prednisolone.
  4. – AI false positives pose serious danger to patients; cutoff changes recommended by Scott Harris , Contributing Writer, MedPage Today November 15, 2021 share to facebook share to twitter share to linkedin email article This Reading Room is a collaboration between MedPage Today® and: For adrenal insufficiency (AI), reducing false positives means more than reducing resource utilization. Treatments like glucocorticoid replacement therapy can cause serious harm in people who do not actually have AI. Research published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society makes multiple findings that report authors say could help bring down false positive rates for AI. This retrospective study ultimately analyzed 6,531 medical records from the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in the United Kingdom. Sirazum Choudhury, MBBS, an endocrinologist-researcher with the trust, served as a co-author of the report. He discussed the study with MedPage Today. The exchange has been edited for length and clarity. This study ultimately addressed two related but distinct questions. What was the first? Choudhury: Initially the path we were following had to do with when cortisol levels are tested. Cortisol levels follow a diurnal pattern; levels are highest in the morning and then decline to almost nothing overnight. This means we ought to be measuring the level in the morning. But there are logistical issues to doing so. In many hospitals, we end up taking measurements of cortisol in the afternoon. That creates a dilemma, because if it comes back low, there's an issue as to what we ought to do with the result. Here at Imperial, we call out results of <100 nmol/L among those taken in the afternoon. Patients and doctors then have to deal with these abnormal results, when in fact they may not actually be abnormal. We may be investigating individuals who should really not be investigated. So the first aim of our study was to try and ascertain whether we could bring that down to a lower level and in doing so stop erroneously capturing people who are actually fine. What was the second aim of the study? Choudhury: As we went through tens of thousands of data sets, we realized we could answer more than that one simple question. So the next part of the study became: if an individual is identified as suspicious for AI, what's the best way to prove this diagnosis? We do this with different tests like short Synacthen Tests (SST), all with different cutoff points. Obviously, we want to get the testing right, because if you falsely label a person as having AI, the upshot is that treatments will interfere with their cortisol access and they will not do well. Simply put, we would be shortening their life. So, our second goal was to look at all the SSTs we've done at the center and track them to see whether we could do better with the benchmarks. What did you find? Choudhury: When you look at the data, you see that you can bring those benchmarks down and potentially create a more accurate test. First, we can be quite sure that a patient who is tested in the afternoon and whose cortisol level is >234 does not have AI. If their level is <53.5 then further investigation is needed There were similar findings for SSTs, which in our case were processed using a platform made by Abbott. For this platform, we concluded that the existing cut-offs should be dropped down to 367 at 30 minutes or 419 at about 60 minutes. Did anything surprise you about the study or its findings? Choudhury: If you look at the literature, the number of individuals who fail at 30 minutes but pass at 60 minutes is around 5%. But I was very surprised to see that our number at Imperial was about 20%. This is a key issue because, as I mentioned, if individuals are wrongly labelled adrenally insufficient, you're shortening their life. It's scary to think about the number of people who might have been given steroids and treated for AI when they didn't have the condition. What do you see as the next steps? Choudhury: I see centers unifying their cutoffs for SST results and making sure we're all consistent in the way we treat these results. From a research perspective, on the testing we're obviously talking about one specific platform with Abbott, so research needs to be done on SST analyzers from other manufacturers to work out what their specific cutoffs should be. Read the study here and expert commentary on the clinical implications here. The study authors did not disclose any relevant relationship with industry. Primary Source Journal of the Endocrine Society Source Reference: Ramadoss V, et al "Improving the interpretation of afternoon cortisol levels and SSTs to prevent misdiagnosis of adrenal insufficiency" J Endocrine Soc 2021; 5(11): bvab147. From https://www.medpagetoday.com/reading-room/endocrine-society/adrenal-disorders/95661
  5. An updated guideline for the treatment of Cushing’s disease focuses on new therapeutic options and an algorithm for screening and diagnosis, along with best practices for managing disease recurrence. Despite the recent approval of novel therapies, management of Cushing’s disease remains challenging. The disorder is associated with significant comorbidities and has high mortality if left uncontrolled. Source: Adobe Stock “As the disease is inexorable and chronic, patients often experience recurrence after surgery or are not responsive to medications,” Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, MACP, dean, executive vice president and professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and an Endocrine Today Editorial Board Member, told Healio. “These guidelines enable navigation of optimal therapeutic options now available for physicians and patients. Especially helpful are the evidence-based patient flow charts [that] guide the physician along a complex management path, which usually entails years or decades of follow-up.” Shlomo Melmed The Pituitary Society convened a consensus workshop with more than 50 academic researchers and clinical experts across five continents to discuss the application of recent evidence to clinical practice. In advance of the virtual meeting, participants reviewed data from January 2015 to April 2021 on screening and diagnosis; surgery, medical and radiation therapy; and disease-related and treatment-related complications of Cushing’s disease, all summarized in recorded lectures. The guideline includes recommendations regarding use of laboratory tests, imaging and treatment options, along with algorithms for diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome and management of Cushing’s disease. Updates in laboratory, testing guidance If Cushing’s syndrome is suspected, any of the available diagnostic tests could be useful, according to the guideline. The authors recommend starting with urinary free cortisol, late-night salivary cortisol, overnight 1 mg dexamethasone suppression, or a combination, depending on local availability. If an adrenal tumor is suspected, the guideline recommends overnight dexamethasone suppression and using late-night salivary cortisol only if cortisone concentrations can also be reported. The guideline includes several new recommendations in the diagnosis arena, particularly on the role of salivary cortisol assays, according to Maria Fleseriu, MD, FACE, a Healio | Endocrine Today Co-editor, professor of medicine and neurological surgery and director of the Pituitary Center at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Maria Fleseriu “Salivary cortisol assays are not available in all countries, thus other screening tests can also be used,” Fleseriu told Healio. “We also highlighted the sequence of testing for recurrence, as many patients’ urinary free cortisol becomes abnormal later in the course, sometimes up to 1 year later.” The guideline states combined biochemical and imaging for select patients could potentially replace petrosal sinus sampling, a very specialized procedure that cannot be performed in all hospitals, but more data are needed. “With the corticotropin-releasing hormone stimulation test becoming unavailable in the U.S. and other countries, the focus is now on desmopressin to replace corticotropin-releasing hormone in some of the dynamic testing, both for diagnosis of pseudo-Cushing’s as well as localization of adrenocorticotropic hormone excess,” Fleseriu said. The guideline also has a new recommendation for anticoagulation for high-risk patients; however, the exact duration and which patients are at higher risk remains unknown. “We always have to balance risk for clotting with risk for bleeding postop,” Fleseriu said. “Similarly, recommended workups for bone disease and growth hormone deficiency have been further structured based on pitfalls specifically related to hypercortisolemia influencing these complications, as well as improvement after Cushing’s remission in some patients, but not all.” New treatment options The guideline authors recommended individualizing medical therapy for all patients with Cushing’s disease based on the clinical scenario, including severity of hypercortisolism. “Regulatory approvals, treatment availability and drug costs vary between countries and often influence treatment selection,” the authors wrote. “However, where possible, it is important to consider balancing cost of treatment with the cost and the adverse consequences of ineffective or insufficient treatment. In patients with severe disease, the primary goal is to treat aggressively to normalize cortisol concentrations.” Fleseriu said the authors reviewed outcomes data as well as pros and cons of surgery, repeat surgery, medical treatments, radiation and bilateral adrenalectomy, highlighting the importance of individualized treatment in Cushing’s disease. “As shown over the last few years, recurrence rates are much higher than previously thought and patients need to be followed lifelong,” Fleseriu said. “The role of adjuvant therapy after either failed pituitary surgery or recurrence is becoming more important, but preoperative or even primary medical treatment has been also used more, too, especially in the COVID-19 era.” The guideline summarized data on all medical treatments available, either approved by regulatory agencies or used off-label, as well as drugs studied in phase 3 clinical trials. “Based on great discussions at the meeting and subsequent emails to reach consensus, we highlighted and graded recommendations on several practical points,” Fleseriu said. “These include which factors are helpful in selection of a medical therapy, which factors are used in selecting an adrenal steroidogenesis inhibitor, how is tumor growth monitored when using an adrenal steroidogenesis inhibitor or glucocorticoid receptor blocker, and how treatment response is monitored for each therapy. We also outline which factors are considered in deciding whether to use combination therapy or to switch to another therapy and which agents are used for optimal combination therapy.” Future research needed The guideline authors noted more research is needed regarding screening and diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome; researchers must optimize pituitary MRI and PET imaging using improved data acquisition and processing to improve microadenoma detection. New diagnostic algorithms are also needed for the differential diagnosis using invasive vs. noninvasive strategies. Additionally, the researchers said the use of anticoagulant prophylaxis and therapy in different populations and settings must be further studied, as well as determining the clinical benefit of restoring the circadian rhythm, potentially with a higher nighttime medication dose, as well as identifying better markers of disease activity and control. “Hopefully, our patients will now experience a higher quality of life and fewer comorbidities if their endocrinologist and care teams are equipped with this informative roadmap for integrated management, employing a consolidation of surgery, radiation and medical treatments,” Melmed told Healio. From https://www.healio.com/news/endocrinology/20211029/updated-cushings-disease-guideline-highlights-new-diagnosis-treatment-roadmap
  6. Jessica Rotham, National Center for Health Research What is it? Cushing’s syndrome is a condition you probably have never heard of, but for those who have it, the symptoms can be quite scary. Worse still, getting it diagnosed can take a while. Cushing’s syndrome occurs when the tissues of the body are exposed to high levels of cortisol for an extended amount of time. Cortisol is the hormone the body produces to help you in times of stress. It is good to have cortisol at normal levels, but when those levels get too high it causes health problems. Although cortisol is related to stress, there is no evidence that Cushing’s syndrome is directly or indirectly caused by stress. Cushing’s syndrome is considered rare, but that may be because it is under-reported. As a result, we don’t have good estimates for how many people have it, which is why the estimates for the actual number of cases vary so much–from 5 to 28 million people.[1] The most common age group that Cushing’s affects are those 20 to 50 years old. It is thought that obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure may increase your risk of developing this syndrome.[2] What causes Cushing’s Syndrome? Cushing’s syndrome is caused by high cortisol levels. Cushing’s disease is a specific form of Cushing’s syndrome. People with Cushing’s disease have high levels of cortisol because they have a non-cancerous (benign) tumor in the pituitary gland. The tumor releases adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH), which causes the adrenal glands to produce excessive cortisol. Cushing’s syndrome that is not Cushing’s disease can be also caused by high cortisol levels that result from tumors in other parts of the body. One of the causes is “ectopic ACTH syndrome.” This means that the hormone-releasing tumor is growing in an abnormal place, such as the lungs or elsewhere. The tumors can be benign, but most frequently they are cancerous. Other causes of Cushing’s syndrome are benign tumors on the adrenal gland (adrenal adenomas) and less commonly, cancerous adrenal tumors (adrenocortical carcinomas). Both secrete cortisol, causing cortisol levels to get too high. In some cases, a person can develop Cushing’s syndrome from taking steroid medications, such as prednisone. These drugs, known as corticosteroids, mimic the cortisol produced by the body. People who have Cushing’s syndrome from steroid medications do not develop a tumor.[3] What are the signs and symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome? The appearance of people with Cushing’s syndrome starts to change as cortisol levels build up. Regardless of what kind of tumor they have or where the tumor is located, people tend to put on weight in the upper body and abdomen, with their arms and legs remaining thin; their face grows rounder (“moon face”); they develop fat around the neck; and purple or pink stretch marks appear on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks or arms. Individuals with the syndrome usually experience one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, muscle weakness, high glucose levels, anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure. Women are more likely than men to develop Cushing’s syndrome, and when they do they may have excess hair growth, irregular or absent periods, and decreased fertility.[4] Why is Cushing’s Syndrome so frequently misdiagnosed? These symptoms seem distinctive, yet it is often difficult for those with Cushing’s syndrome to get an accurate diagnosis. Why? While Cushing’s is relatively rare, the signs and symptoms are common to many other diseases. For instance, females with excess hair growth, irregular or absent periods, decreased fertility, and high glucose levels could have polycystic ovarian syndrome, a disease that affects many more women than Cushing’s. Also, people with metabolism problems (metabolic syndrome), who are at higher than average risk for diabetes and heart disease, also tend to have abdominal fat, high glucose levels and high blood pressure.[5] Problems in testing for Cushing’s When Cushing’s syndrome is suspected, a test is given to measure cortisol in the urine. This test measures the amount of free or unbound cortisol filtered by the kidneys and then released over a 24 hour period through the urine. Since the amount of urinary free cortisol (UFC) can vary a lot from one test to another—even in people who don’t have Cushing’s—experts recommend that the test be repeated 3 times. A diagnosis of Cushing’s is given when a person’s UFC level is 4 times the upper limit of normal. One study found this test to be highly accurate, with a sensitivity of 95% (meaning that 95% of people who have the disease will be correctly diagnosed by this test) and a specificity of 98% (meaning that 98% of people who do not have the disease will have a test score confirming that).[6] However, a more 2010 study estimated the sensitivity as only between 45%-71%, but with 100% specificity.[7] This means that the test is very accurate at telling people who don’t have Cushing’s that they don’t have it, but not so good at identifying the people who really do have Cushing’s. The authors that have analyzed these studies advise that patients use the UFC test together with other tests to confirm the diagnosis, but not as the initial screening test.[8] Other common tests that may be used to diagnose Cushing’s syndrome are: 1) the midnight plasma cortisol and late-night salivary cortisol measurements, and 2) the low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (LDDST). The first test measures the amount of cortisol levels in the blood and saliva at night. For most people, their cortisol levels drop at night, but people with Cushing’s syndrome have cortisol levels that remain high all night. In the LDDST, dexamethasone is given to stop the production of ACTH. Since ACTH produces cortisol, people who don’t have Cushing’s syndrome will get lower cortisol levels in the blood and urine. If after giving dexamethasone, the person’s cortisol levels remain high, then they are diagnosed with Cushing’s.[9] Even when these tests, alone or in combination, are used to diagnose Cushing’s, they don’t explain the cause. They also don’t distinguish between Cushing’s syndrome, and something called pseudo-Cushing state. Pseudo-Cushing state Some people have an abnormal amount of cortisol that is caused by something unrelated to Cushing’s syndrome such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, depression, pregnancy, and obesity. This is called pseudo-Cushing state. Their high levels of cortisol and resulting Cushing-like symptoms can be reversed by treating whatever disease is causing the abnormal cortisol levels. In their study, Dr. Giacomo Tirabassi and colleagues recommend using the desmopressin (DDAVP) test to differentiate between pseudo-Cushing state and Cushing’s. The DDAVP test is especially helpful in people who, after being given dexamethasone to stop cortisol production, continue to have moderate levels of urinary free cortisol (UFC) and midnight serum cortisol.[10] An additional test that is often used to determine if one has pseudo-Cushing state or Cushing’s syndrome is the dexamethasone-corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) test. Patients are injected with a hormone that causes cortisol to be produced while also being given another hormone to stop cortisol from being produced. This combination of hormones should make the patient have low cortisol levels, and this is what happens in people with pseudo-Cushing state. People with Cushing’s syndrome, however, will still have high levels of cortisol after being given this combination of hormones.[11] How can Cushing’s be treated? Perhaps because Cushing’s is rare or under-diagnosed, few treatments are available. There are several medications that are typically the first line of treatment. None of the medications can cure Cushing’s, so they are usually taken until other treatments are given to cure Cushing’s, and only after that if the other treatment fails. The most common treatment for Cushing’s disease is transsphenoidal surgery, which requires the surgeon to reach the pituitary gland through the nostril or upper lip and remove the tumor. Radiation may also be used instead of surgery to shrink the tumor. In patients whose Cushing’s is caused by ectopic ACTH syndrome, all cancerous cells need to be wiped out through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a variety of other methods, depending on the location of the tumor. Surgery is also recommended for adrenal tumors. If Cushing’s syndrome is being caused by corticosteroid (steroid medications) usage, the treatment is to stop or lower your dosage.[12] Medications to control Cushing’s (before treatment or if treatment fails) According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, almost no new treatment options have been introduced in the last decade. Researchers and doctors have focused most of their efforts on improving existing treatments aimed at curing Cushing’s. Unfortunately, medications used to control Cushing’s prior to treatment and when treatment fails are not very effective. Many of the medications approved by the FDA for Cushing’s syndrome and Cushing’s disease, such as pasireotide, metyrapone, and mitotane, have not been extensively studied. The research presented to the FDA by the makers of these three drugs did not even make clear what an optimal dose was.[13] In another 2014 study, published in Clinical Epidemiology, researchers examined these three same drugs, along with ten others, and found that only pasireotide had moderate evidence to support its approval. The other drugs, many of which are not FDA approved for Cushing’s patients, had little or no available evidence to show that they work.[14] They can be sold, however, because the FDA has approved them for other diseases. Unfortunately, that means that neither the FDA nor anyone else has proven the drugs are safe or effective for Cushing patients. Pasireotide, the one medication with moderate evidence supporting its approval, caused hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) in 75% of patients who participated in the main study for the medication’s approval for Cushing’s. As a result of developing hyperglycemia, almost half (46%) of the participants had to go on blood-sugar lowering medications. The drug was approved by the FDA for Cushing’s anyway because of the lack of other effective treatments. Other treatments used for Cushing’s have other risks. Ketoconazole, believed to be the most commonly prescribed medications for Cushing’s syndrome, has a black box warning due to its effect on the liver that can lead to a liver transplant or death. Other side effects include: headache, nausea, irregular periods, impotence, and decreased libido. Metyrapone can cause acne, hirsutism, and hypertension. Mitotane can cause neurological and gastrointestinal symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea and can cause an abortion in pregnant women.[15] So, what should you do if you suspect you have Cushing’s Syndrome? Cushing’s syndrome is a serious disease that needs to be treated, but there are treatment options available for you if you are diagnosed with the disease. If the symptoms in this article sound familiar, it’s time for you to go see your doctor. Make an appointment with your general practitioner, and explain your symptoms to him or her. You will most likely be referred to an endocrinologist, who will be able to better understand your symptoms and recommend an appropriate course of action. All articles are reviewed and approved by Dr. Diana Zuckerman and other senior staff. Nieman, Lynette K. Epidemiology and clinical manifestations of Cushing’s syndrome, 2014. UpToDate: Wolters Kluwer Health Cushing’s syndrome/ disease, 2013. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. http://www.aans.org/Patient Information/Conditions and Treatments/Cushings Disease.aspx Cushing’s syndrome, 2012. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases: National Institutes of Health. http://endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/cushings/cushings.aspx#treatment Cushing’s syndrome, 2012. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases: National Institutes of Health. http://endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/cushings/cushings.aspx#treatment Cushing’s syndrome, 2012. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases: National Institutes of Health. http://endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/cushings/cushings.aspx#treatment Newell-Price, John, Peter Trainer, Michael Besser and Ashley Grossman. The diagnosis and differential diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome and pseudo-Cushing’s states, 1998. Endocrine Reviews: Endocrine Society Carroll, TB and JW Findling. The diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome, 2010. Reviews in Endocrinology and Metabolic Disorders: Springer Ifedayo, AO and AF Olufemi. Urinary free cortisol in the diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome: How useful?, 2013. Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice: Medknow. Cushing’s syndrome, 2012. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases: National Institutes of Health. http://endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/cushings/cushings.aspx#treatment Tirabassi, Giacomo, Emanuela Faloia, Roberta Papa, Giorgio Furlani, Marco Boscaro, and Giorgio Arnaldi. Use of the Desmopressin test in the differential diagnosis of pseudo-Cushing state from Cushing’s disease, 2013. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism: Endocrine Society. Cushing’s syndrome, 2012. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases: National Institutes of Health. http://endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/cushings/cushings.aspx#treatment Cushing’s syndrome, 2012. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases: National Institutes of Health. http://endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/cushings/cushings.aspx#treatment Tirabassi, Giacomo, Emanuela Faloia, Roberta Papa, Giorgio Furlani, Marco Boscaro, and Giorgio Arnaldi. Use of the Desmopressin test in the differential diagnosis of pseudo-Cushing state from Cushing’s disease, 2013. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism: Endocrine Society. Galdelha, Monica R. and Leonardo Vieira Neto. Efficacy of medical treatment in Cushing’s disease: a systematic review, 2014. Clinical Endocrinology: John Wiley & Sons. Adler, Gail. Cushing syndrome treatment & management, 2014. MedScape: WebMD. Adapted from https://www.center4research.org/cushings-syndrome-frequent-misdiagnosis/?fbclid=IwAR1lfJPilmaTl1BhR-Esi69eU7Xjm3RlO4f8lmFBIviCtHHXmVoyRxOlJqE
  7. Cortisol is a hormone which produced by the adrenal gland (cortex) to control blood sugar. The production of cortisol is triggered by the pituitary hormone ACTH. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid which stimulates an increase in blood glucose. Cortisol will also stimulate the release of amino acids from muscle tissue and fatty acids from adipose tissue. The amino acids are then converted in the liver to glucose (for use by the brain). The fatty acids can be used by skeletal muscles for energy (rather than glucose) thereby freeing up glucose for selective utilization by the brain. Cortisol levels are often measured to evaluate the function of the pituitary or adrenal glands. Some of the cortisol is metabolized by the liver to produce 17 hydroxycorticosteroids, which is then excreted in the urine. The primary stress hormone. Cortisol is the major natural GLUCOCORTICOID (GC) in humans. Synthetic cortisol, also known as hydrocortisone, is used as a drug mainly to fight allergies and inflammation. A certain amount of cortisol is necessary for life. Without cortisol even a small amount of stress will kill you. Addison's disease is a disease which causes low cortisol levels, and which is treated by cortisol replacement therapy. Cortisol...
  8. This article was originally published here Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2021 Jul 29;34(6):715-717. doi: 10.1080/08998280.2021.1953950. eCollection 2021. ABSTRACT Cushing’s disease (CD) is the most common cause of endogenous cortisol excess. We discuss the case of a 60-year-old woman with recurrent venous thromboembolism, refractory hypokalemia, and lumbar vertebrae compression fractures with a rapidly progressive disease course. Ectopic hypercortisolism was suspected given the patient’s age and rapid onset of disease. Investigations revealed cortisol excess from a pituitary microadenoma. This case demonstrates that CD can present with severe findings and highlights the increased risk of venous thromboembolism in hypercortisolism, especially in CD. PMID:34732999 | PMC:PMC8545141 | DOI:10.1080/08998280.2021.1953950
  9. By Ed Miseta, Chief Editor, Clinical Leader Follow Me On Twitter @EdClinical Sparrow Pharmaceuticals is an emerging biopharma company on a mission to help patients suffering from an excess of corticosteroids, with a focus on Cushing’s syndrome, autonomous cortisol secretion (ACS), and polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). Cushing’s and ACS are both caused by an excess of cortisol produced by tumors. Patients with Cushing’s can present physically with a fatty hump between their shoulders, a rounded face, and pink or purple stretch marks on their skin. Cushing’s syndrome and ACS can both result in high blood pressure, bone loss, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and mood, cognition, and sleep disorders. Any of those symptoms may be side effects for patients with conditions such as PMR who rely on long-term treatment with corticosteroid medications such as prednisone. “Cushing’s syndrome impacts around 20,000 patients in the U.S. alone,” says David Katz, Chief Scientific Officer for Sparrow. “Approximately 50% of those patients can be cured by surgery, but some will develop another tumor years later. ACS is an under-recognized condition, but it may affect up to 3 million patients in the U.S. There are also around 2 million people in the U.S. who rely on long-term use of corticosteroid medications to control autoimmune diseases and other conditions.” The treatments being developed by Sparrow are based on recognition that cortisol and corticosteroid medications are activated in certain tissues such as the liver, bone, fat, and brain, where in excess they act to cause toxicity. The company’s investigational drugs inhibit HSD-1, the enzyme responsible for that activation. Sparrow is about to launch a Phase 2 trial for Cushing’s syndrome. In early 2022 the company will also begin two additional Phase 2 trials for ACS and PMR, a common autoimmune disease in elderly patients. PMR is an arthritic syndrome characterized by a phenomenon known as claudication, which means the more you use a limb, the more it hurts and the harder it is to use. “For example, the more a PMR patient walks, the more painful and stiff their legs will become,” says Katz. “If they're trying to do anything with their arms, the arms will get stiffer and more painful. The disease is pretty debilitating in terms of physical function. The only approved treatment for PMR is steroids, which have side effects such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and fractures.” Unknown Clinical Challenges Katz is excited about the clinical trials for ACS and PMR because no sizable interventional trials have been reported in either of those conditions. “We're going into a completely new area, and we don't know what we're going to encounter in terms of patient recruitment and retention,” says Katz. “There is also no strong precedent for how to get approval for a drug in these conditions. The only treatment indicated for PMR is steroids, and that came without any efficacy clinical trials. There are no drugs approved for ACS. It’s hard to anticipate the challenges we will face when we are in an area that is very new.” Patient centricity is a topic that is very important to Katz, and he spends a lot of time thinking about how to make trials a more pleasant experience for patients by limiting the burden placed on them. He notes that can sometimes be a difficult trade-off because of the procedures that must be performed to meet regulatory standards. “In Cushing’s syndrome clinical care and clinical trials, the standard way for someone's cortisol level to be measured is a 24-hour urine collection,” states Katz. “That involves looking at the amount of cortisol in the urine over a 24-hour period. That collection is inconvenient and burdensome, and the patient must then carry it somewhere to be analyzed.” Sparrow hopes to shift that collection to a spot urine sample, like what patients would experience during a physical. The patient would urinate into a cup and hand it off to a clinic employee for analysis. The process would be much simpler and less burdensome for the patient. Sparrow will first need to prove that in a clinical trial the spot sample will work as well or better than the 24-hour collection. Subjects in the initial clinical trials will have to contribute the 24-hour collections so that Sparrow can demonstrate that future patients will not need to do so. The Future of Endocrinology Katz has a positive outlook on the future of endocrinology. Sparrow’s leading drug candidate, SPI-62, is an oral, small-molecule HSD-1 inhibitor. In four clinical trials, it demonstrated potent targeting of HSD-1 in both the brain and liver, and significantly lowered cortisol levels in the liver. The studies also showed a favorable safety and tolerability profile. “If we are successful at developing SPI-62, I believe it will change the field of endocrinology,” says Katz. “We aim to shift the focus in Cushing’s syndrome to intracellular cortisol as the main driver of symptoms. What I mean by that is if we find that SPI-62 substantially reduces symptoms and that the degree of inhibition of our target HSD-1 correlates well with clinical improvement, then we can get to a new standard of care. We can potentially get rid of the 24-hour urine collections, which will be a big relief to patients. Additionally, many of today's drugs have a side effect called adrenal insufficiency, which results when the drugs either reduce cortisol too much or completely block activity. Many of today's drugs also require frequent monitoring and dose titration to prevent adrenal insufficiency. We believe that with HSD-1 inhibition we might avoid adrenal insufficiency as well.” Katz is hopeful patients treated with SPI-62 will not require monitoring and dose titration. That proof will take years and lots of clinical trials. Sparrow may also produce the first targeted therapy for ACS. That could improve the recognition of ACS as a prevalent form of hypercortisolism and a substantial cause of morbidity and mortality. “ACS is probably the most under-recognized condition in endocrinology based on recent epidemiological studies,” adds Katz. “It's possible that as few as 3% of patients who have ACS actually have a diagnosis. That is shocking for a condition that is associated with a lot of cardiometabolic and bone morbidity, negative effects on mood and cognition, sleep, and muscle strength, and is associated with excess mortality. We want to bring attention to this condition by bringing out a targeted therapy to treat a spectrum of symptoms by getting to the root cause of them.” From https://www.clinicalleader.com/doc/sparrow-pharmaceuticals-hopes-to-change-the-future-of-endocrinology-0001
  10. Abstract Cushing’s disease is an abnormal secretion of ACTH from the pituitary that causes an increase in cortisol production from the adrenal glands. Resultant manifestations from this excess in cortisol include multiple metabolic as well as psychiatric disturbances which can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. In this report, 23-year-old woman presented to mental health facility with history of severe depression and suicidal ideations. During evaluation, she found to have Cushing’s disease, which is unusual presentation. She had significant improvement in her symptoms with reduction of antidepressant medications after achieving eucortisolism. Cushing syndrome can present with wide range of neuropsychiatric manifestations including major depression. Although presentation with suicidal depression is unusual. Early diagnosis and prompt management of hypercortisolsim may aid in preventing or lessening of psychiatric symptoms The psychiatric and neurocognitive disorders improve after disease remission (the normalization of cortisol secretion), but some studies showed that these disorders can partially improve, persist, or exacerbate, even long-term after the resolution of hypercortisolism. The variable response of neuropsychiatric disorders after Cushing syndrome remission necessitate long term follow up. Keywords cushing syndrome, cushing disease, hypercortisolism Introduction Endogenous Cushing syndrome is a complex disorder caused by chronic exposure to excess circulating glucocorticoids. It has a wide range of clinical signs and symptoms as a result of the multisystem effects caused by excess cortisol.1 The hypercortisolism results in several complications that include glucose intolerance, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, thromboembolism, osteoporosis, impaired immunity with increased susceptibility to infection as well as neuropsychiatric disorders.2,3 Cushing syndrome presents with a wide variety of neuro-psychiatric manifestations like anxiety, major depression, mania, impairments of memory, sleep disturbance, and rarely, suicide attempt as seen in this case.2,4 The mechanism of neuropsychiatric symptoms in Cushing’s syndrome is not fully understood, but multiple proposed theories have been reported, one of which is the direct brain damage secondary to excess of glucocorticoids.5 Case Report A 23-year-old female presented to Al-Amal complex of mental health in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with history of suicidal tendencies and 1 episode of suicidal attempt which was aborted because of religious reasons. She reported history of low mood, having disturbed sleep, loss of interest, and persistent feeling of sadness for 4 months. She also reported history of weight gain, facial swelling, hirsutism, and irregular menstrual cycle with amenorrhea for 3 months. She was prescribed fluoxetine 40 mg and quetiapine 100 mg. She was referred to endocrinology clinic at King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh for evaluation and management of possible Cushing syndrome as the cause of her abnormal mental health. She was seen in the endocrinology clinic where she reported symptoms as mentioned above in addition to headache, acne, and proximal muscle weakness. On examination her vital signs were normal. She had depressed affect, rounded face with acne and hirsutism, striae in the upper limb, and abdomen with proximal muscle weakness (4/5). Initial investigations showed that 24 hour urinary free cortisol was more than 633 µg which is more than 3 times upper limit of normal (this result was confirmed on second sample with level more than 633 µg/24 hour), cortisol level of 469 nmol/L after low dose 1 mg-dexamethasone suppression test and ACTH level of 9.8 pmol/L. Levels of other anterior pituitary hormones tested were within normal range. She also had prediabetes with HbA1c of 6.1 and dyslipidemia. Serum electrolytes, renal function and thyroid function tests were normal. MRI pituitary showed left anterior microadenoma with a size of 6 mm × 5 mm. MRI pituitary (Figure 1). Figure 1. (A-1) Coronal T2, (B-1) post contrast coronal T1 demonstrate small iso intense T1, heterogeneous mixed high, and low T2 signal intensity lesion in the left side of anterior pituitary gland which showed micro adenoma with a size of 6 mm × 5 mm. (A-2) Post-operative coronal T2 and (B-2) post-operative coronal T1. Demonstrates interval resection of the pituitary micro adenoma with no recurrence or residual lesion and minimal post-operative changes. There is no abnormal signal intensity or abnormal enhancing lesion seen. No further hormonal work up or inferior petrosal sinus sampling were done as the tumor size is 6 mm and ACTH level consistent with Cushing’s disease (pituitary source). She was referred to neurosurgery and underwent trans-sphenoidal resection of the tumor. Histopathology was consistent with pituitary adenoma and positive for ACTH. Her repeated cortisol level after tumor resection was less than 27 and ACTH 2.2 with indicated excellent response to surgery. She was started on hydrocortisone until recovery of her hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis documented by normal morning cortisol 3 months after surgery (Table 1). Table 1. Labs. Table 1. Labs. View larger version During follow up with psychiatry her depressive symptoms improved but not resolved and she was able to stop fluoxetine 5 months post-surgery. Currently she is maintained on quetiapine 100 mg with significant improvement in her psychiatric symptoms. Currently she is in remission from Cushing’s disease based on the normal level of repeated 24 hour urinary free cortisol and with an over-all improvement in her metabolic profile. Discussion Cushing syndrome is a state of chronic hypercortisolism due to either endogenous or exogenous sources. Glucocorticoid overproduction by adrenal gland can be adrenocorticotropic (ACTH) hormone dependent which represent most of the cases and ACTH independent.6 To the best of our knowledge this is the first case documented in Saudi Arabia. There are multiple theories behind the neuropsychiatric manifestations in Cushing syndrome. These include increased stress response leading to behavioral changes, prolonged cortisol exposure leading to decreased brain volume especially in the hippocampus, reduced dendritic mass, decreased glial development, trans-cellular shift of water and synaptic loss, and excess glucocorticoid levels inhibiting neurogenesis and promoting neuronal tendency to toxic insult.3,7 In this report, the patient presented with severe depression with suicidal attempt. She had significant improvement in her symptoms with reduction of antidepressant medications but her depression persisted despite remission of Cushing disease. A similar case has been reported by Mokta et al,1 about a young male who presented with suicidal depression as initial manifestation of Cushing disease. As opposed to the present case he had complete remission of depression within 1 month of resolution of hypercortisolism. In general, psychiatric and neurocognitive disorders secondary to Cushing syndrome improves after normalization of cortisol secretion, but some studies showed that these disorders can partially improve, persist, or exacerbate, even long-term after the resolution of hypercortisolism. This may be due to persistence hypercortisolism creating toxic brain effects that occur during active disease.2,8 Similar patients need to be followed up for mental health long after Cushing syndrome has been resolved. Conclusion Depression is a primary psychiatric illness, that is, usually not examined for secondary causes. Symptoms of depression and Cushing syndrome overlap, so diagnosis and treatment of Cushing disease can be delayed. Early diagnosis and prompt management of hypercortisolsim may aid in preventing or lessening psychiatric symptoms. The variable neuropsychiatric disorders associated with Cushing syndrome post-remission necessitates long term follow up. Declaration of Conflicting Interests: The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Funding: The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Informed Consent Written informed consent was obtained from the patient for the publication of this case and accompanying images. ORCID iD Sultan Dheafallah Al-Harbi https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9877-9371 References 1. Mokta, J, Sharma, R, Mokta, K, Ranjan, A, Panda, P, Joshi, I. Cushing’s disease presenting as suicidal depression. J Assoc Physicians India. 2016;64:82-83. Google Scholar | Medline 2. Pivonello, R, Simeoli, C, De Martino, MC, et al. Neuropsychiatric disorders in cushing’s syndrome. Front Neurosci. 2015;9:1-6. Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline 3. Pereira, AM, Tiemensma, J, Romijn, JA. Neuropsychiatric disorders in Cushing’s syndrome. Neuroendocrinology. 2010;92:65-70. Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline | ISI 4. Tang, A, O’Sullivan, AJ, Diamond, T, Gerard, A, Campbell, P. Psychiatric symptoms as a clinical presentation of Cushing’s syndrome. Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2013;12:1. Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline 5. Sonino, N, Fava, GA, Raffi, AR, Boscaro, M, Fallo, F. Clinical correlates of major depression in Cushing’s disease. Psychopathology. 1998;31:302-306. Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline 6. Wu, Y, Chen, J, Ma, Y, Chen, Z. Case report of Cushing’s syndrome with an acute psychotic presentation. Shanghai Arch Psychiatry. 2016;28:169-172. Google Scholar | Medline 7. Rasmussen, SA, Rosebush, PI, Smyth, HS, Mazurek, MF. Cushing disease presenting as primary psychiatric illness: a case report and literature review. J Psychiatr Pract. 2015;21:449-457. Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline 8. Sonino, N, Fava, GA. Psychiatric disorders associated with Cushing’s syndrome. Epidemiology, pathophysiology and treatment. CNS Drugs. 2001;15:361-373. Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline From https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/11795476211027668
  11. Cushing's Help Podcast: Adrenal Crisis Be sure to print this page to carry with you. Definition: Acute adrenal crisis is a life-threatening state caused by insufficient levels of cortisol, which is a hormone produced and released by the adrenal gland. Alternative Names: Adrenal crisis; Addisonian crisis; Acute adrenal insufficiency Causes, incidence, and risk factors: The two adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys. They consist of the outer portion, called the cortex, and the inner portion, called the medulla. The cortex produces three types of hormones, all of which are called corticosteroids. Cortisol is a glucocortoid, a corticosteroid that maintains glucose (blood sugar) regulation, suppresses the immune response, and is released as part of the body's response to stress. Cortisol production is regulated by a small gland just below the brain called the pituitary gland. Cortisol is essential for life. Acute adrenal crisis is a medical emergency caused by a lack of cortisol. Patients may experience lightheadedness or dizziness, weakness, sweating, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, or even loss of consciousness. Adrenal crisis occurs if the adrenal gland is deteriorating (Addison's disease, primary adrenal insufficiency), if there is pituitary gland injury (secondary adrenal insufficiency), or if adrenal insufficiency is not adequately treated. Risk factors for adrenal crisis include physical stress such as infection, dehydration, trauma, or surgery, adrenal gland or pituitary gland injury, and ending treatment with steroids such as prednisone or hydrocortisone too early. Symptoms: Headache Profound weakness Fatigue Slow, sluggish movement Nausea Vomiting Low blood pressure Dehydration High fever Shaking chills Confusion or coma Darkening of the skin Rapid heart rate Joint pain Abdominal pain Unintentional weight loss Rapid respiratory rate (see tachypnea) Unusual and excessive sweating on face and/or palms Skin rash or lesions may be present Flank pain Loss of appetite Signs and tests: An ACTH (cortrosyn) stimulation test shows low cortisol. The baseline cortisol level is low. Fasting blood sugar may be low. Serum potassium is elevated ( usually primary adrenal insufficiency). Serum sodium is decreased (usually primary adrenal insufficiency). Treatment: In adrenal crisis, an intravenous or intramuscular injection of hydrocortisone (an injectable corticosteroid) must be given immediately. Supportive treatment of low blood pressure with intravenous fluids is usually necessary. Hospitalization is required for adequate treatment and monitoring. If infection is the cause of the crisis, antibiotic therapy may be needed. Expectations (prognosis): Death may occur due to overwhelming shock if early treatment is not provided. Complications: shock coma seizures Calling your health care provider: Call your health care provider if you have Addison's disease and are unable to retain usual medications because of vomiting.Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if symptoms of acute adrenal crisis develop. Prevention: People who have Addison's disease should be taught to recognize signs of potential stress that may cause an acute adrenal crisis. Most people with Addison's disease are taught to give themselves an emergency injection of hydrocortisone or increase their dose of oral prednisone in times of stress. It is important for the individual with Addison's disease to always carry a medical identification card that states the type of medication and the proper dose needed in case of an emergency. Never omit medication. If unable to retain medication due to vomiting, notify the health care provider. Health Alert: Adrenal Crisis Causes Death in Some People Who Were Treated With hGH Recently, doctors conducting the follow-up study of individuals treated with hGH looked at causes of death among recipients and found some disturbing news. Many more people have died from a treatable condition called adrenal crisis than from CJD. THIS RISK DOES NOT AFFECT EVERY RECIPIENT. IT CAN AFFECT THOSE WHO LACK OTHER HORMONES IN ADDITION TO GROWTH HORMONE. Please read on to find out if this risk applies to you. Death from adrenal crisis can be prevented. Adrenal crisis is a serious condition that can cause death in people who lack the pituitary hormone ACTH. ACTH is responsible for regulating the adrenal gland. Often, people are unaware that they lack this hormone and therefore do not know about their risk of adrenal crisis. Most people who were treated with hGH did not make enough of their own growth hormone. Some of them lacked growth hormone because they had birth defects, tumors or other diseases that cause the pituitary gland to malfunction or shut down. People with those problems frequently lack other key hormones made by the pituitary gland, such as ACTH, which directs the adrenal gland to make cortisol, a hormone necessary for life. Having too little cortisol can be fatal if not properly treated. TREATMENT WITH HGH DOES NOT CAUSE ADRENAL CRISIS, but because a number of people lacking growth hormone also lack ACTH, adrenal crisis has occurred in some people who were treated with hGH. In earlier updates we have talked about how adrenal crisis can be prevented, but people continue to die from adrenal crisis, which is brought on by lack of cortisol. These deaths can be prevented. Please talk to your doctor about whether you are at risk for adrenal crisis. Why should people treated with hGH know about adrenal crisis? Among the people who received hGH, those who had birth defects, tumors, and other diseases affecting the brain lacked hGH and often, other hormones made by the pituitary gland. A shortage of the hormones that regulate the adrenal glands can cause many health problems. It can also lead to death from adrenal crisis. This tragedy can be prevented. What are adrenal hormones? The pituitary gland makes many hormones, including growth hormone and ACTH, a hormone which signals the adrenal glands to make cortisol, a hormone needed for life. If the adrenal gland doesn't make enough cortisol, replacement medications must be taken. The most common medicines used for cortisol replacement are: Hydrocortisone Prednisone Dexamethasone What is adrenal crisis? Adrenal hormones are needed for life. The system that pumps blood through the body cannot work during times of physical stress, such as illness or injury, if there is a severe lack of cortisol (or its replacement). People who lack cortisol must take their cortisol replacement medication on a regular basis, and when they are sick or injured, they must take extra cortisol replacement to prevent adrenal crisis. When there is not enough cortisol, adrenal crisis can occur and may rapidly lead to death. What are the symptoms of lack of adrenal hormones? If you don't have enough cortisol or its replacement, you may have some of these problems: feeling weak feeling tired all the time feeling sick to your stomach vomiting no appetite weight loss When someone with adrenal gland problems has weakness, nausea, or vomiting, that person needs immediate emergency treatment to prevent adrenal crisis and possible death. • Why are adrenal hormones so important? Cortisol (or its replacement) helps the body respond to stress from infection, injury, or surgery. The normal adrenal gland responds to serious illness by making up to 10 times more cortisol than it usually makes. It automatically makes as much as the body needs. If you are taking a cortisol replacement drug because your body cannot make these hormones, you must increase the cortisol replacement drugs during times of illness, injury, or surgery. Some people make enough cortisol for times when they feel well, but not enough to meet greater needs when they are ill or injured. Those people might not need cortisol replacement every day but may need to take cortisol replacement medication when their body is under stress. Adrenal crisis is extremely serious and can cause death if not treated promptly. Discuss this problem with your doctor to help decide whether you need more medication or other treatment to protect your health. • How is adrenal crisis treated? People with adrenal crisis need immediate treatment. ANY DELAY CAN CAUSE DEATH. When people with adrenal crisis are vomiting or unconscious and cannot take medicine, the hormones can be given as an injection. Getting an injection of adrenal hormones can save your life if you are in adrenal crisis. If you lack the ability to make cortisol naturally, you should carry a medical ID card and wear a Medic-Alert bracelet to tell emergency workers that you lack adrenal hormones and need treatment. This precaution can save your life if you are sick or injured. • How can I prevent adrenal crisis? • If you are always tired, feel weak, and have lost weight, ask your doctor if you might have a shortage of adrenal hormones. • If you take hydrocortisone, prednisone, or dexamethasone, learn how to increase the dose when you become ill. • If you are very ill, especially if you are vomiting and cannot take pills, seek emergency medical care immediately. Make sure you have a hydrocortisone injection with you at all times, and make sure that you and those around you (in case you're not conscious) know how and when to administer the injection. • Carry a medical ID card and wear a bracelet telling emergency workers that you have adrenal insufficiency and need cortisol. This way, they can treat you right away if you are injured. Remember: SOME PEOPLE WHO LACKED GROWTH HORMONE MAY ALSO LACK CORTISOL, A HORMONE NECESSARY FOR LIFE. LACK OF CORTISOL CAN CAUSE ADRENAL CRISIS, A PREVENTABLE CONDITION THAT CAN CAUSE DEATH IF TREATED IMPROPERLY . Deaths from adrenal crisis can be prevented if patients and their families recognize the condition and are careful to treat it right away. Adrenal crisis is a medical emergency. Know the symptoms and how to adjust your medication when you are ill. TAKING THESE PRECAUTIONS CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE. DebMV suggested that you should have a Medic Alert bracelet from medicalert.org Toll free number in the USA is: by phone 7 days a week, 24 hours a day: 888-633-4298 209-668-3333 from outside the U.S. Lorrie got this important info for us. Alternative names: adrenal crisis; Addisonian crisis; acute adrenal insufficiency Definition: An abrupt, life-threatening state caused by insufficient cortisol, a hormone produced and released by the adrenal gland. Causes, incidence, and risk factors: The two adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys. They consist of the outer portion, called the cortex, and the inner portion, called the medulla. The cortex produces three types of hormones, which are called corticosteroids. The androgens and estrogens affect sexual development and reproduction. The glucocorticoids maintain glucose regulation, suppress the immune response, and provide for the response to stress (cortisol). The mineralocorticoids regulate sodium and potassium balance. These hormones are essential for life. Acute adrenal crisis is an emergency caused by decreased cortisol. The crisis may occur in a person with Addison's disease, or as the first sign of adrenal insufficiency. More uncommonly, it may be caused by a pituitary gland disorder. It may also be caused by sudden withdrawal of corticosteroids, removal or injury of the adrenal glands, or destruction of the pituitary gland. Risk factors are stress, trauma, surgery, or infection in a person with Addison's disease, or injury or trauma to the adrenal glands or the pituitary gland. The incidence is 4 out of 100,000 people. Prevention: People who have Addison's disease should be taught to recognize signs of potential stress that may precipitate an acute adrenal crisis (cause it to occur suddenly and unexpectedly). Most people with Addison's disease are taught to give themselves an emergency injection of hydrocortisone in times of stress. It is important for the individual with Addison's disease to always carry a medical identification card that states the type of medication and the proper dose needed in case of an emergency. Never omit medication. If unable to retain medication due to vomiting, notify the health care provider. Symptoms: headache profound weakness fatigue slow, sluggish, lethargic movement nausea vomiting low blood pressure dehydration high fever chills shaking confusion or coma darkening of the skin rapid heart rate joint pain abdominal pain unintentional weight loss rapid respiratory rate unusual and excessive sweating on face and/or palms skin rash or lesion may be present flank pain appetite, loss Signs and tests: An ACTH (cortrosyn) stimulation test shows low cortisol. The cortisol level is low. The fasting blood sugar may be low. The serum potassium is elevated. The serum sodium is decreased. This disease may also alter the results of the following tests: sodium, urine 17-hydroxycorticosteroids Treatment: In adrenal crisis, an intravenous or intramuscular injection of hydrocortisone (an injectable corticosteroid) must be given immediately. Supportive treatment of low blood pressure is usually necessary. Hospitalization is required for adequate treatment and monitoring. Low blood pressure may be treated with intravenous fluids. If infection is the cause of the crisis, antibiotic therapy is indicated. Expectations (prognosis): Death may occur due to overwhelming shock if early treatment is not provided. Complications: shock coma seizures For more personal experiences, see the message boards A Personal Experience Shauna Wrote...What adrenal crisis feels like As with most mornings, this one began with nausea. I'm used to it, so didn't think much about it. I made it to the bathroom and was feeling really awful. Decided to just go to the toilet because I had that impending feeling. Next thing I knew I was waking up, but it wasn't like a normal awakening. I remember being in a tunnel and then thinking, "Well, this isn't where I normally sleep." Then I realized of course it wasn't where I normally slept! Normally I sleep in a bed, not wedged between a wall and the toilet. (Not that I was that coherent). I was completely disoriented as to time, place, etc. I had one big yell in me and yelled "HELP". My four year old brought me the phone and my son got me a towel. I called 911 (thank God I had a 911 sticker on the phone because I really couldn't remember the number). I kept telling the dispatcher I was in adrenal crisis. Of course, that meant nothing to him. I had my son get my shot but somewhere I knew that I wasn't together enough to give myself the shot. So I puked a few more times and told my son to take my daughter upstairs so she wasn't scared when the ambulance came. I decided to rest on the floor of the bathroom. I had, at first, tried to go to the couch but I was much, much too weak. So my son directed the medics into the bathroom. They eventually carried me to the couch. I kept telling them about my shot, but couldn't remember where I had my letter from Dr. Cook. They thought I was an overdose or a psych case (they told me later). They had all my pills lined up and were asking when I took this or that one last. I finally told them to look at the friggin date on the bottle and see that they were all 3/4 full. (I was agitated, too) They put the heart monitor on me and inserted an IV and took me to the hospital. I puked one more time in the ambulance and when we arrived (though my tummy was empty). My brother and sister-in-law where there (hospital) when I arrived and my mom had arrived at my house to take care of the kids as we were leaving. Then she met us up there. Before we arrived at the hospital, my husband had faxed a copy of Dr. Cook's letter on how to treat me over (Brian was at work when this happened). So they came in and inserted another fluid bag. Then about ten minutes later (after my brother told the doctor, "I fully expect that my sister will have her shot withing the next ten minutes" - patient advocates are a good thing because I could've cared less at that point) I had my 100 mg shot of solu-medrol. I was lucky because my doctor in the ER knew about adrenal crisis. Then I had another bag and repeated tests of my bp and heartrate. It wasn't pretty - every time my bp was low, generally around 80/50, sometimes lower and my heart rate was 120+. They decided to admit me, but I fought and fought. Once I got a shot of Zofran (anti-nausea, best in the world) and my cortisone and some fluid, I was feeling decent. I look and feel like I've been through a war, but I'm alive. As to why this happened, we're not entirely sure at this point. I have one urine test that they're culturing or something. I might also have shingles, but again - that'll show up in due time (a day or two, if I have it). Or, as Dr. Cook said when I talked to him, sometimes we just don't know. I was doing so well on my meds, back up to 27.5 and feeling good. Now I'm on 40 for the next day, and 30 for a week. Frustrating. Adrenal crisis is awful. It's terrifying. And what makes me want to cry as I write this (who am I kidding, I am crying) is that I couldn't have cared less if I lived or died. I was not in my right mind, I felt so horrid. All the surgeries combined, today was the worst day I've ever had. And it was a huge wake-up call. I need to have a better medic-alert bracelet because they had no idea what "Stress dose steroids" were. I need to have a list of what to do in crisis on my fridge, in my purse and with every family member. Same with the letter from my endo on how to treat me. Because when I'm in crisis, I don't know any better. I need to have things that speak for me. Thank God for family that knows, and for good doctors. Anyway, I didn't post this to scare anyone but Adrenal Crisis is not something to take lightly. When I felt myself hurting the night before (back pain, possibly shingles though I doubt it) I should've just taken an extra 5 mgs. Would've been a heck of a lot easier than what happened today. A few funny parts of the day: My daughter had to dress herself and my mom was in a hurry to get her to daycare and come see me. So my daughter spent the day at daycare in tights, too small shorts and a turtleneck (none of which came close to matching). Oh, and black patent leather shoes. Also, the medics asked what I weighed. Out of habit, I said 222 (my highest Cushing's weight). They ALL did a double take and said no way. One guessed 140 - bless his heart. I never did get myself weighed so I don't even know. Oh, and if any of you called at about 8 am and spoke with a medic, call me back. lol I had a blocked call at 8am, and I vaguely remember the medic talking to someone but I wasn't with it enough to ask who called. lol Something I don't say enough: I love and value you all. More personal experiences. Sue sent this along: Early Crisis Intervention The following is from the June 2002 issue of Addison News. Joan Hoffman, editor/publisher, kindly sent this issue to me and I wanted to share this with you. This is a flow chart to show the pathway of events in a crisis. It is very important to intervene as early as possible. Use your injectable and head for the hospital! The rate at which these events take varies with individuals and circumstances. The chart is a variation of one found in a nursing encyclopedia.
  12. Kate** on the Cushing’s support board (Cushing’s Help and Support) wrote this letter after having pituitary surgery… Dear friends and family: I am writing this letter to share with you some basic facts about Cushing’s Disease/Syndrome and the recovery process so that you will have sufficient information to form realistic expectations about me and my ability to engage in certain activities in light of this disease and its aftermath. As you know, Cushing’s is a rarely diagnosed endocrine disorder characterized by hypercortisolism. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands and is vital to regulate the body’s cardivoascular functions and metabolism, to boost the immune system and to fight inflammation. But its most important job is to help the body to respond to stress. The adrenal glands release cortisol in response to stress, so atheletes, women experiencing pregnancy, and those suffering from alcoholism, panic disorders and malnutrition naturally have higher-than-normal levels of cortisol. People with Cushing’s Syndrome live life with too much cortisol for their bodies as a result of a hormone-secreting tumor. Mine is located in the pituitary gland. Endogenous hypercortisolism leaves the body in a constant state of “fight or flight,” which ravages the body and tears down the body’s major systems including cardivascular, musculo-skeletal, endocrine, etc. Symptoms vary, but the most common symptoms include rapid, unexplained weight gain in the upper body with increased fat around the neck and face (“moon facies”); buffalo hump; facial flushing/plethora; muscle wasting in the arms and legs; purplish striae (stretch marks) on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms and breasts; poor wound healing and bruising; severe fatigue; depression, anxiety disorders and emotional lability; cognitive difficulties; sleep disorders due to abnormally high nighttime cortisol production; high blood pressure and high blood sugar/diabetes; edema; vision problems; premature osteoperosis; and, in women, signs of hyperandrogenism such as menstrual irregularities, infertility, hirsutism, male-patterned balding and steroid-induced acne. Cushing's Symptoms http://www.cushings-info.com/images/1/12/Lady.gif A sketch of a typical Cushing’s patient. As you can see, the effects of the disease on the body are dramatic. Worse, the psychological and emotional effects of having a chronic, debilitating and disfiguring disease range from distressing to demoralizing. Imagine that, in the space of a year, you became unrecognizable to those around you and to yourself. You look in the mirror, but the person staring back a tyou is a stranger. You endure the stares and looks of pity from those who knew you before Cushing’s, fully aware that they believe you have “let yourself go” or otherwise allowed this to happen to your body. Nothing you can say or do will persuade them otherwise, so at some point, you stop trying and resolve to live your life in a stranger’s body. You feel increasingly sick, but when you explain your array of symptoms to your doctor, you are dismissed as a depressed hypochondriac who needs to diet and exercise more. Worse, your family members think the same thing — and are often quick to tell you how you need to “change your lifestyle” to overcome the effects of what you eventually will discover, once properly diagnosed, is a serious and rare disease. If only it were so simple! No one would choose to have Cushing’s. Those of us who have it would not wish it even on our worst enemy. Most people with Cushing’s long for the ability to do simple things, like walk a flight of stairs without having to sit for half an hour afterwards, or vacuum the house or even unload a dishwasher. One of the worst parts about this disease is the crushing fatigue and muscle wasting/weakness, which accompanies hypercortisolism. Not only do we become socially isolated because of the virilzing effects of an endocrine tumor, which drastically alters our appearance, but we no longer feel like ourselves with regard to energy. We would love to take a long bike ride, run three miles or go shopping like we used to — activities, which we took for granted before the disease struck. Those activities are sadly impossible at times for those with advanced stages of the disease. Sometimes, as with any serious illness, performing even basic tasks of daily care such as showering and dressing can exhaust the limited reserves of energy available to a Cushing’s patient. How do we explain to you what it’s like to watch our lives slip away? What response is sufficient to express the grief and frustration over losing so much of ourselves? It is often difficult to find the strength to explain how your well-meaning words of prompting and encouragement (to diet or exercise) only serve to leave us more isolated and feeling alone. Though we wouldn’t want it, we wish our disease were as well-understood as cancer so that those who love us would have a frame of reference for what we go through. With Cushing’s, there is such limited public awareness that we are left to describe the effects of the disease from a void, often with limited understanding from those who love us most, which is disheartening. The most frustrating misconception about this disease is that we somehow are “doing this to ourselves,” or delaying recovery because we need to continue steroid replacement or lack the energy to excercise often, which is sadly false. Trust me that we would love to have that much control over such a terrible disease. Fortunately, there is a good likelihood of remission from Cushing’s in the hands of a skilled pituitary surgeon. Unfortunately, the long-term remission rate is only 56%, meaning that 44% of people with Cushing’s will require a second (sometimes third) pituitary surgery, radiation or bilateraly adrenalectomy to resolve the hypercortisolism. Without successful treatment, Cushing’s leads to death. Even with successful treatment, I will have to be monitored for possible recurrence for the rest of my life. After surgery or other treatment, the recovery period can last months or even years. Because the tumor takes over control of the body’s production of cortisol, the adrenal glands, which had lain dormant prior to surgery, require time to start functioning properly again. Until this happens, we must take synthetic steroids or else risk adrenal insufficiency or adrenal crisis, which can be quickly life-threatening. Careful monitoring of our cortisol levels is critical during the weaning period. It is a rare but sad fact that some people’s adrenal glands never return to normal, and those people must continue to take hydrocortisone or prednisone — sometimes for life — simply in order for the body to perform correctly its basic systemic functions. The physical recovery from surgery can be quick, but the withdrawal from hydrocortisone can be a lengthy and extremely painful process. As I described above, Cushing’s causes a tearing-down of muscles and bone. While there is an over-abundance of cortisol in our bodies (as a result of the tumor), we often can’t feel the effects of the muscle-wasting and bone deterioration because of the anti-inflammatory action of cortisol. Upon weaning, however, these become painfully (literally!) evident. The physical pain experienced while weaning from cortisol has been described as worse than weaning from heroin. When cortisol levels are low, one experiences the symptoms akin to a really bad flu, including severe fatigue (”like a wet cement blanket laid on top of me”); weakness and exhaustion; nausea; headache; vomiting; mental confusion. It is imperative for people who are on replacement steroids after Cushing’s surgery to carry extra Cortef (or injectable Solu-Cortef) with them at all times in addition to wearing a medic alert bracelet so that medical professionals will be alerted to the possiblity of adrenal insufficiency in the event of an adrenal crisis. People who have struggled with Cushing’s Syndrome all hope to return to “normal” at some point. Though none of us want to have Cushing’s, it is often a relief finally to have a correct diagnosis and treatment plan. For many, there is a gradual resolution of many Cushing’s symptoms within a few years of surgery or other successful treatment, and a good quality of life can be achieved. But regrettably, this is not possible in every case. Depending on the severity of the disease and the length of time before diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis can be poor and lead to shortened life expectancy and diminished quality of life. This is not a choice or something we can control, but it is the reality for some people who have suffered the consequences of long-term hypercortisolism. The best support you can give someone who is suffering from Cushing’s or its aftermath is to BELIEVE them and to understand that they are not manufacturing their illness or prolonging recovery. Ask them what they are able (and not able) to do, and then be prepared to help them in ways that matter — whether that be to bring them a meal or help them to run errands, pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy or clean their house. Because it’s these little everyday tasks, which can fall by the wayside when someone has (or has had) Cushing’s, and these are the things we miss the most: doing for ourselves. Ask us questions about the disease, and then actively listen to what we say. We know you don’t know much about Cushing’s — even our doctors sometimes lack information about this rare disease. But know we appreciate the interest and will tell you everything you want to know, because those of us who have it necessarily become experts in it just in order to survive. Thank you for caring about me and for hearing what I am saying in this letter. I know you love me and are concerned about me, and I appreciate that so much. Thank you also for taking the time to read this letter. I look forward to discussing further any questions you might have. In the meantime, I am attaching a brief article written by a woman who recently was diagnosed with Cushing’s. I hope hearing another person’s experiences will help you to understand what I’m going through so that when we talk, we will be coming from a similar starting place. Endocrinologists (doctors who specialize in Cushing's Syndrome and its related issues) realize the medical aspect and know the damaging effects that Cushing's has on the body. Family and friends see their Cushie suffering and know they are hurting physically and often times mentally and emotionally. However, understanding the debilitation of Cushing's and how it can affect every aspect of a person's life can only be truly realized by those who have experienced the syndrome. Cushings Help Organization, Inc., a non-profit family of websites maintained by MaryO, a pituitary Cushing's survivor, provides this letter for patients to provide to their family and friends in hopes of providing a better understanding Cushing's and it's many aspects. We're sorry to hear that your family member or friend has Cushing's Syndrome or suspected Cushing's. A person may feel better at times then at other times. It's common for a Cushing's patient to have burst of energy and then all of a sudden they become lethargic and don't feel like moving a muscle. There are many symptoms that are associated with Cushing's. They include weight gain, fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, feeling achy all over, headaches, blurred vision, mood swings, high blood pressure, stretch marks (straie), buffalo hump, diabetes, edema and the list goes on. Hormones affect every area of the body. It is important to note that not all patients have every symptom. Even some hallmark symptoms, such as straie or the "buffalo hump", may not be noticable on every patient. Not everyone who has Cushing's will experience the same symptoms, treatment, or recovery. Because not all "Cushies" have these symptoms, it makes diagnosis even more difficult. Cushing's can cause the physical appearance change due to weight gain, hair loss, rosacea, acne, etc. This can be very disturbing when looking in the mirror. Changes in appearance can often cause the Cushing's patient to withdraw from family and friends making it a very lonely illness. Patients often feel alone or withdrawn because few others understand. Cushing's can affect affect anyone of any age although it is more commen in women. Cushing's patients need to be able to take one day at time and learn to listen to their bodies. There will most likely be times when naps are needed during the day and often times may not be able to sleep at night due to surges of cortisol. Your Cushie doesn't expect you to understand Cushing's Syndrome completely. They do need you to be there for them and try to understand to the best of your ability what they feel and not give up on them. Often a Cushing's patient may be moody and say things that they don't mean. If this should happen with your Cushie try not to take it personally and know that it's most likely caused by the elevated cortisol and disturbances in other hormone levels caused by the Cushing's and not from the heart or true feelings of your Cushie. It can be very depressing and frustrating having so many limitations and experience things in life being taken from you. Cushing's patients are sick, not lazy, not hypochondriacs or even the newer term "Cyberchondriacs". If a Cushing's patient says they don't feel like doing something or they express how bad they feel let them know that you believe them. One of the most frustrating things to someone who is sick is to have those you love not believe you or support you. Telling a Cushie to think positive thoughts will not make him/her well and will just be aggrivating. Testing procedures can be lengthy and this can become frustrating for the patient and family. Often, it takes a while for results to come back and this can be stressful. Don't look to far ahead just take one day at a time and deal with the situation that is at hand at the present time. After a diagnosis is made then it's time for treatment. Surgery is usually the best treatment option for Cushing's that is caused by tumors. Don't be surprised if the surgeon's facility wants to run even more tests or redo some of those that have already been done. Your Cushie may have to travel a ways to find a surgeon who is trained in these delicate surgeries and who has performed many of them. Once the diagnosis has been made and treatment has finished then it's time for the recovery process. Not all patients who have surgery are cured and they have to make a choice along with the advice of their doctor as to what their next treatment option will be. The recovery from the surgery itself is similar to any other surgery and will take a while to recover. The recovery process obtained from getting a cure from Cushing's is quiet different from other surgeries. A Cushing's patients body has been exposed to excess cortisol, usually for quite a long time, and has become accustomed it. When the tumor is removed that has been responsible for the excessive cortisol and the body is no longer getting it this causes the body to have withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can be very hard causing an array of symptoms muscle aches, weakness, bone and joint pain, emotional disturbances etc. Thank you for reading this and we hope it will help you to understand a little more about Cushing's and the dibilating affect it can have on a person. Thank you for being there and supporting your Cushie during this time in their life. We realize that when a family member has Cushing's it not only affects the individual but other family members and those around them as well. Showing your love and support will encourage a speedy recovery for your Cushie. **Note: Kate died on on June 23, 2014. Read her In Memory page here: http://cushingsbios.com/2014/06/25/in-memory-kate-meyers/
  13. Cushing’s syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs when the body is exposed to too much cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the body and is also used in corticosteroid drugs. Cushing's syndrome can occur either because cortisol is being overproduced by the body or from the use of drugs that contain cortisol (like prednisone). Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone. Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands in response to the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) by the pituitary. One form of Cushing’s syndrome may be caused by an oversecretion of ACTH by the pituitary leading to an excess of cortisol. Cortisol has several functions, including the regulation of inflammation and controlling how the body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Corticosteroids such as prednisone, which are often used to treat inflammatory conditions, mimic the effects of cortisol. Stay tuned for more basic info...
  14. SAN DIEGO, CA, USA I August 10, 2021 I Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: CRNX), a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapeutics for rare endocrine diseases and endocrine-related tumors, today announced positive preliminary findings from the single ascending dose (SAD) portion of a first-in-human Phase 1 clinical study with CRN04894 demonstrating pharmacologic proof-of-concept for this first-in-class, investigational, oral, nonpeptide adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) antagonist that is being developed for the treatment of conditions of ACTH excess, including Cushing’s disease and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. “ACTH is the central hormone of the endocrine stress response. Even though we’ve known about its clinical significance for more than 100 years, there has never been an ACTH antagonist available to intervene in diseases of excess stress hormones. This is an important milestone for the field of endocrinology and for our company,” said Scott Struthers, Ph.D., founder and chief executive officer of Crinetics. “I am extremely proud of our team that conceived, discovered and developed CRN04894 this far. This is the second molecule to emerge from our in-house discovery efforts and demonstrate pharmacologic proof of concept. I am very excited to see what it can do in upcoming clinical studies.” The 39 healthy volunteers who enrolled in the SAD cohorts were administered oral doses of CRN04894 (10 mg to 80 mg, or placebo) two hours prior to a challenge with synthetic ACTH. Analyses of basal cortisol levels (before ACTH challenge) showed that CRN04894 produced a rapid and dose-dependent reduction of cortisol by 25-56%. After challenge with a supra-pathophysiologic dose of ACTH (250 mcg), CRN04894 suppressed cortisol (as measured by AUC) up to 41%. After challenge with a disease-relevant dose of ACTH (1 mcg), CRN04894 showed a clinically meaningful reduction in cortisol AUC of 48%. These reductions in cortisol suggest that CRN04894 is bound with high affinity to its target receptor on the adrenal gland and blocking the activity of ACTH. CRN04894 was well tolerated in the healthy volunteers who enrolled in these SAD cohorts and all adverse events were considered mild. “We are very encouraged by these single ascending dose data which clearly demonstrate proof of ACTH antagonism with CRN04894 exposure in healthy volunteers,” stated Alan Krasner, M.D., chief medical officer of Crinetics. “We look forward to completing this study and assessing results from the multiple ascending dose cohorts. As a clinical endocrinologist, I recognize the pioneering nature of this work and eagerly look forward to further understanding the potential of CRN04894 for the treatment of diseases of ACTH excess.” Data Review Conference Call Crinetics will hold a conference call and live audio webcast today, August 10, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss the results of the CRN04894 SAD cohorts. To participate, please dial 800-772-3714 (domestic) or 212-271-4615 (international) and refer to conference ID 21996541. To access the webcast, please visit the Events page on the Crinetics website. The archived webcast will be available for 90 days. About the CRN04894-01 Phase 1 Study Crinetics is enrolling healthy volunteers in this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 1 study of CRN04894. Participants will be divided into multiple cohorts in the single ascending dose (SAD) and multiple ascending dose (MAD) phases of the study. In the SAD phase, safety and pharmacokinetics are assessed. In addition, pharmacodynamic responses are evaluated before and after challenges with injected synthetic ACTH to assess pharmacologic effects resulting from exposure to CRN04894. In the MAD phase, participants will be administered placebo or ascending doses of study drug daily for 10 days. Assessments of safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics will also be performed after repeat dosing. About CRN04894 Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is synthesized and secreted by the pituitary gland and binds to melanocortin type 2 receptor (MC2R), which is selectively expressed in the adrenal gland. This interaction of ACTH with MCR2 stimulates the adrenal production of cortisol, a stress hormone that is involved in the regulation of many systems. Cortisol is involved for example in the regulation of blood sugar levels, metabolism, inflammation, blood pressure, and memory formulation, and excess adrenal androgen production can result in hirsutism, menstrual dysfunction, infertility in men and women, acne, cardiometabolic comorbidities and insulin resistance. Diseases associated with excess of ACTH, therefore, can have significant impact on physical and mental health. Crinetics’ ACTH antagonist, CRN04894, has exhibited strong binding affinity for MC2R in preclinical models and demonstrated suppression of adrenally derived glucocorticoids and androgens that are under the control of ACTH, while maintaining mineralocorticoid production. About Cushing’s Disease and Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia Cushing’s disease is a rare disease with a prevalence of approximately 10,000 patients in the United States. It is more common in women, between 30 and 50 years of age. Cushing’s disease often takes many years to diagnose and may well be under-diagnosed in the general population as many of its symptoms such as lethargy, depression, obesity, hypertension, hirsutism, and menstrual irregularity can be incorrectly attributed to other more common disorders. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) encompasses a set of disorders that are caused by genetic mutations that result in impaired cortisol synthesis with a prevalence of approximately 27,000 patients in the United States. This lack of cortisol leads to a loss of feedback mechanisms and results in persistently high levels of ACTH, which in turn causes overstimulation of the adrenal cortex. The resulting adrenal hyperplasia and over-secretion of other steroids (particularly androgens) and steroid precursors can lead to a variety of effects from improper gonadal development to life-threatening adrenal crisis. About Crinetics Pharmaceuticals Crinetics Pharmaceuticals is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapeutics for rare endocrine diseases and endocrine-related tumors. The company’s lead product candidate, paltusotine, is an investigational, oral, selective nonpeptide somatostatin receptor type 2 agonist for the treatment of acromegaly, an orphan disease affecting more than 26,000 people in the United States. A Phase 3 program to evaluate safety and efficacy of paltusotine for the treatment of acromegaly is underway. Crinetics also plans to advance paltusotine into a Phase 2 trial for the treatment of carcinoid syndrome associated with neuroendocrine tumors. The company is also developing CRN04777, an investigational, oral, nonpeptide somatostatin receptor type 5 (SST5) agonist for congenital hyperinsulinism, as well as CRN04894, an investigational, oral, nonpeptide ACTH antagonist for the treatment of Cushing’s disease, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and other diseases of excess ACTH. All of the company’s drug candidates are new chemical entities resulting from in-house drug discovery efforts and are wholly owned by the company. SOURCE: Crinetics Pharmaceuticals From https://pipelinereview.com/index.php/2021081178950/Small-Molecules/Crinetics-Pharmaceuticals-Oral-ACTH-Antagonist-CRN04894-Demonstrates-Pharmacologic-Proof-of-Concept-with-Dose-Dependent-Cortisol-Suppression-in-Single-Ascending-Dose-Port.html
  15. Rachel Acree, Caitlin M Miller, Brent S Abel, Nicola M Neary, Karen Campbell, Lynnette K Nieman Journal of the Endocrine Society, Volume 5, Issue 8, August 2021, bvab109, https://doi.org/10.1210/jendso/bvab109 Abstract Context Cushing syndrome (CS) is associated with impaired health-related quality of life (HRQOL) even after surgical cure. Objective To characterize patient and provider perspectives on recovery from CS, drivers of decreased HRQOL during recovery, and ways to improve HRQOL. Design Cross-sectional observational survey. Participants Patients (n = 341) had undergone surgery for CS and were members of the Cushing’s Support and Research Foundation. Physicians (n = 54) were Pituitary Society physician members and academicians who treated patients with CS. Results Compared with patients, physicians underestimated the time to complete recovery after surgery (12 months vs 18 months, P = 0.0104). Time to recovery did not differ by CS etiology, but patients with adrenal etiologies of CS reported a longer duration of cortisol replacement medication compared with patients with Cushing disease (12 months vs 6 months, P = 0.0025). Physicians overestimated the benefits of work (26.9% vs 65.3%, P < 0.0001), exercise (40.9% vs 77.6%, P = 0.0001), and activities (44.8% vs 75.5%, P = 0.0016) as useful coping mechanisms in the postsurgical period. Most patients considered family/friends (83.4%) and rest (74.7%) to be helpful. All physicians endorsed educating patients on recovery, but 32.4% (95% CI, 27.3-38.0) of patients denied receiving sufficient information. Some patients did not feel prepared for the postsurgical experience (32.9%; 95% CI, 27.6-38.6) and considered physicians not familiar enough with CS (16.1%; 95% CI, 12.2-20.8). Conclusion Poor communication between physicians and CS patients may contribute to dissatisfaction with the postsurgical experience. Increased information on recovery, including helpful coping mechanisms, and improved provider-physician communication may improve HRQOL during recovery. Read the entire article in the enclosed PDF. bvab109.pdf
  16. Please note that if you buy through links in this article, Medical News Today may earn a small commission. Here’s their process. Cortisol is a hormone with various functions throughout the body. However, if a person’s body cannot regulate their cortisol levels, it could lead to a serious health condition. In these cases, home cortisol tests may be useful to indicate when someone might need medical attention. This article discusses: what cortisol is what a home cortisol test is why a person might buy a home cortisol test some home cortisol tests to purchase online when to see a doctor What is cortisol? Cortisol is the stress hormone that affects several systems in the body, including the: nervous system immune system cardiovascular system respiratory system reproductive system musculoskeletal system integumentary system The adrenal glands produce cortisol. Most human body cells have cortisol receptors, and the hormone can help in several ways, including: reducing inflammation regulating metabolism assisting with memory formation controlling blood pressure developing the fetus during pregnancy maintaining salt and water balance in the body controlling blood sugar levels All these functions make cortisol a vital part of maintaining overall health. If the body can no longer regulate cortisol levels, it can lead to several health disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome and Addison’s disease. Without treatment, these conditions could cause life threatening complications. The body requires certain cortisol levels during times of stress, such as: in the event of an injury during illness during a surgical procedure What are home cortisol tests? A cortisol test usually involves a blood test. However, some may require saliva and urine samples instead. There are several home cortisol tests available to purchase over the counter or online. These allow a person to take a sample of blood, urine, or saliva before sending it off for analysis. After taking a home cortisol test, people can usually receive their results within 2–5 days online or via a telephone call with a healthcare professional. However, there are currently no studies investigating the reliability of these home cortisol tests. Therefore, people should follow up on their test results with a healthcare professional. Why and when do people need them? A person should take a home cortisol test if they feel they may have a cortisol imbalance. If cortisol levels are too high, a person may notice the following: rapid weight gain in the face, chest, and abdomen high blood pressure osteoporosis bruises and purple stretch marks mood swings muscle weakness an increase in thirst and need to urinate If cortisol levels are too low, a person may experience the following symptoms: fatigue loss of appetite unintentional weight loss muscle weakness abdominal pain Additionally, low cortisol levels may lead to: low blood pressure low blood sugar low blood sodium high blood potassium A test can help individuals check their cortisol levels. If the test results show these levels are too high or too low, people should seek medical advice. A cortisol imbalance may be a sign of an underlying condition, which can lead to serious complications without treatment. If a person cannot carry out a home cortisol test, they should speak to a medical professional who can arrange a cortisol test at a healthcare facility. What to look for in a home cortisol test At a clinic or hospital setting, a medical professional will usually take a blood sample and analyze it for an individual’s cortisol levels. Home cortisol tests involve a person taking a sample of blood, urine, or saliva. There are currently no studies investigating the accuracy of these results. However, home cortisol tests may be faster and more convenient than making an appointment with a doctor to take a sample. People may consider several factors when deciding to purchase a home cortisol test, including: Sample type: Some tests require a blood sample, while others need a sample of urine or saliva. With this in mind, a person may wish to buy a product that uses a testing method they are comfortable providing. Test analysis: A person may wish to purchase a product from a company that sends tests to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified labs for analysis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulate these labs to help ensure safety and accuracy. Accuracy: Individuals may wish to speak to a pharmacist or other healthcare professional before purchasing to ensure the test is reliable and accurate. Products Several online retailers offer home cortisol tests. It is important to follow all test instructions to ensure a valid result. Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based. LetsGetChecked – Cortisol Test This cortisol test uses the finger prick method to draw blood for the sample. Here are the steps to take and send off a blood sample: Individuals fill in their details on the collection box and activate their testing kit online at the LetsGetChecked website. People need to wash their hands with warm soapy water before using an alcohol swab to clean the finger that they will prick. Once the finger is completely dry, individuals pierce the skin using the lancet in the test kit. A person must wipe away the first drop of blood before squeezing some into the blood collection tube. After closing the tube, individuals must invert it 5–10 times before placing it in the included biohazard bag, which they then place in the box. After following these steps, people can send the sample back to LetsGetChecked using the kit’s prepaid envelope. Test results usually come back within 2–5 days. LetsGetChecked tests samples in the same labs that primary care providers, hospitals, and government schemes use. These labs are CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited. The company also has a team of nurses and doctors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to offer ongoing support. These healthcare professionals are on hand to discuss a person’s results with them over the phone. Everlywell At-Home Cortisol Levels Test Kit – Sleep & Stress Test This Everlywell product uses a urine sample to test a person’s cortisol levels. The test measures the levels of three hormones in a person’s body: cortisol, cortisone, and melatonin. It also measures a person’s creatinine levels. There are three steps with this test: Individuals register their testing kit on Everlywell’s website. A person follows the instructions carefully to take their urine sample. Once they have their urine sample, they place it in the prepaid package and send it off to Everlywell’s labs. Within a few days, individuals will receive their results digitally via the Everlywell website. Medical professionals can also offer helpful insights via their secure platform. As well as sending a personalized report of each marker, Everlywell also sends detailed information about what the results mean. The labs where Everlywell tests samples all carry certification with CLIA. The company also ensures that all results are reviewed and certified by independent board-certified physicians within the person’s specific state.SHOP NOW Healthlabs Cortisol, AM & PM Test Healthlabs offers a cortisol test that tests a person’s cortisol levels twice — once in the morning and once in the evening. The company says they do this because a person’s cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day. Therefore, by testing twice, they can gather information on this fluctuation. This test uses a blood sample, which a person takes once in the morning and once in the afternoon. They must follow the instructions clearly to ensure they take suitable samples. The manufacturer says that people should collect a morning sample between 7–9 a.m. and an evening sample between 3–5 p.m. They then need to send off their sample for analysis. After testing is complete at a CLIA-certified lab, a person will receive their results, which usually takes between 1–2 days. SHOP NOW When to speak with a doctor A person should undergo a cortisol test if they believe they may have high or low cortisol levels. They can do this at home or speak with a medical professional who can carry out the test for them. People may also wish to seek medical help if they show signs of too much or too little cortisol. This could indicate a potentially serious underlying health issue. Summary Cortisol is an important hormone that affects almost all parts of the body. It has many functions, including reducing inflammation, regulating metabolism, and controlling blood pressure. If a person believes they have high or low cortisol levels, they may wish to take a cortisol test. Usually, these tests take place at a medical practice. However, several home cortisol tests are available to purchase. A person can take these tests at home by providing a urine, blood, or saliva sample. Once a lab analyzes the test, people usually receive their results within a few days. Individuals should follow up any test results with a healthcare professional. No clinics, no stress. Test your cortisol levels from home Test your cortisol level from home with LetsGetChecked. Get free shipping, medical support, and results from accredited labs within 2–5 days. Order today for 30% off. LEARN MORE Last medically reviewed on April 29, 2021 at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/3-of-the-best-home-cortisol-tests
  17. For years before and after their diagnosis, people with Cushing’s disease use more psychotropic medications — those that affect mood, thoughts, or perception — for mental health problems than their healthy peers, a study in Sweden found. Notably, patients experiencing long-term disease remission still showed higher use of antidepressants and sleeping pills than healthy individuals. These findings highlight Cushing’s persistent negative effects on mental health, according to researchers. Additionally, the results of this study, based on prescribed medication dispenses in Sweden, support the importance of earlier diagnoses of Cushing’s disease — and the need for close and long-term monitoring of neuropsychiatric symptoms in this patient population, the researchers said. The study, “Psychotropic drugs in patients with Cushing’s disease before diagnosis and at long-term follow-up — a nationwide study,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and cognitive impairments are part of the wide range of symptoms caused by the abnormally high levels of the cortisol hormone that characterize Cushing’s syndrome. Of note, Cushing’s disease is a form of Cushing’s syndrome caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland. A “few” studies have reported the elimination or partial lessening of neuropsychiatric symptoms after successful Cushing’s treatment, according to the researchers. But others noted that “impaired cognitive function and quality of life seemed to persist for a long time after biochemical [cortisol level-based] remission had been achieved,” the team wrote. Now, these researchers, from several universities in Sweden, have assessed the use of psychotropic medications — reflecting mental health burden — in 372 people with Cushing’s disease. The use of such medications was assessed five years before diagnosis, at the time of diagnosis, and at five and 10 years post-diagnosis. The patients, diagnosed between 1990 and 2018, were identified through the Swedish Pituitary Register, which covers 95% of all people with Cushing’s disease in the country. Most of the patients (76%) were women. Altogether, the patients’ mean age at diagnosis was 44 years. For each individual with Cushing’s, four sex-, age-, and residential area-matched healthy individuals were used as controls for comparative analyses. Data on each individual’s dispenses of medications commonly used for neuropsychiatric issues were obtained from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register. This register, which fully covers all prescribed medications given throughout the country, also was used to determine each patient’s dispenses of other medications for Cushing’s disease symptoms, such as high blood pressure, also called hypertension, and diabetes. The results showed that the use of antidepressants, anxiolytics — medications to lessen anxiety — and sleeping pills was at least twofold higher in Cushing’s patients than in healthy individuals during the five-year period before diagnosis, and at the time of diagnosis. Five years after diagnosis, the proportion of patients using antidepressants (26%) and sleeping pills (22%) remained unchanged, and even individuals in remission showed significantly higher use of such medications than did controls (20–26% vs. 8.6–12%). According to the results, one-third of the patients on antidepressants since their diagnosis were able to discontinue treatment before the five-year assessment — most having achieved disease remission. However, 47% of those receiving antidepressants at five years had initiated such treatment at a median of 2.4 years after diagnosis. During the five-year follow-up, older age and being a woman appeared to increase the risk of antidepressant use among Cushing’s disease patients. At 10 years of follow-up, the use of antidepressants and sleeping pills was not significantly different between groups, despite the fact that antidepressants use remained about the same among patients. Notably, researchers conducted an analysis of 76 patients with sustained remission for a median of 9.3 years, and 292 matching controls. That analysis showed that the use of antidepressants and sleeping pills was significantly higher among patients. The use of other medications, such as those for hypertension and diabetes, also was significantly more common among Cushing’s disease patients before, at diagnosis, and at five years post-diagnosis — although the post-diagnosis numbers dropped by half during that period. After 10 years, only the use of anti-diabetic medications remained significantly higher in patients as compared with controls. These findings suggest that other conditions associated with Cushing’s disease, such as hypertension and diabetes, are effectively lessened with treatment. However, they also highlight that “many patients with CD [Cushing’s disease] will have persistent mental health problems,” the researchers wrote. In addition, visits to a psychiatrist and hospital admissions for treatment of psychiatric disorders tended to be more common among Cushing’s disease patients, even before diagnosis, the team noted. “This nationwide register-based study shows that use of psychotropic drugs in CD patients is increased from several years before diagnosis,” the researchers wrote, adding that this use “remained elevated regardless of remission status, suggesting persisting negative effects on mental health,” the researchers wrote. These findings highlight the importance of early diagnosis of Cushing’s disease and of considering neuropsychiatric symptoms “as an important part of the disease,” they concluded. There is a “need for long-term monitoring of mental health” in Cushing’s, they wrote. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2021/02/24/cushings-found-to-cause-persistent-negative-mental-health-effects-swedish-study/
  18. ~ RECORLEV® (levoketoconazole) New Drug Application is Supported by Previously-Reported Positive and Statistically Significant Results from the Phase 3 SONICS and LOGICS Studies ~ ~ Nearly 40 Percent of Prescription-Treated Endogenous Cushing’s Syndrome Patients in the U.S. Are Not Well-Controlled, Underscoring Need for New, Safe and Effective Pharmaceutical Options to Help Regulate Cortisol Levels ~ ~ If Approved Following a Projected 10-Month Review Cycle, RECORLEV is Anticipated to Launch in First Quarter of 2022 ~ DUBLIN, Ireland and TREVOSE, Pa., March 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Strongbridge Biopharma plc, (Nasdaq: SBBP), a global commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of therapies for rare diseases with significant unmet needs, today announced that it submitted a New Drug Application (NDA) for RECORLEV® (levoketoconazole) for the treatment of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The submission is supported by previously reported positive and statistically significant results of the SONICS and LOGICS trials: two Phase 3 multinational studies designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of RECORLEV when used to treat adults with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. “The submission of the New Drug Application for RECORLEV® (levoketoconazole) represents not only a significant milestone for Strongbridge but also for the Cushing’s syndrome community as a whole. As an organization focused on developing treatments for underserved rare disease patient populations, we are one step closer to helping address the needs of the estimated 8,000 Cushing’s syndrome patients in the U.S. who are treated with prescription therapy, many of whom, as we learned in our market research, are not well-controlled with current therapies,” said John H. Johnson, chief executive officer of Strongbridge Biopharma. “We look forward to working with the FDA through their review of our application, and we are actively preparing for the potential launch of RECORLEV in the first quarter of 2022, if approved.” RECORLEV, the pure 2S,4R enantiomer of the enantiomeric pair comprising ketoconazole, is a next-generation steroidogenesis inhibitor being investigated as a chronic therapy for adults with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. Two Phase 3 studies have demonstrated substantial evidence of efficacy and safety in a combined study population of 166 patients that was representative of the adult drug-treated U.S. population with Cushing’s syndrome. The SONICS study met its primary and key secondary endpoints, demonstrating a statistically significant rate of mean urinary free cortisol normalization after six months of maintenance therapy without a dose increase (detailed results here). LOGICS, a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized-withdrawal study, which also had statistically significant primary and key secondary endpoints, confirmed that the long-term cortisol-normalizing efficacy demonstrated in SONICS was due to use of levoketoconazole specifically (detailed results here). The long-term open-label extension study, OPTICS, is contributing safety information to the NDA. “We want to thank the patients, their families, investigators, collaborators, and employees who have contributed to the RECORLEV clinical program leading to this important regulatory milestone,” said Fredric Cohen, M.D., chief medical officer of Strongbridge Biopharma. RECORLEV has received orphan drug designation from the FDA and the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of endogenous Cushing's syndrome. Strongbridge will host a conference call tomorrow, Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the Company’s fourth quarter and full-year 2020 financial results and recent corporate highlights, including the RECORLEV NDA submission. About Cushing’s Syndrome Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is a rare, serious and potentially lethal endocrine disease caused by chronic elevated cortisol exposure - often the result of a benign tumor of the pituitary gland. This benign tumor tells the body to overproduce high levels of cortisol for a sustained period of time, and this often results in undesirable physical changes. The disease is most common among adults between the ages of 30 to 50, and it affects women three times more often than men. Women with Cushing's syndrome may experience a variety of health issues including menstrual problems, difficulty becoming pregnant, excess male hormones (androgens), primarily testosterone which can cause hirsutism (growth of coarse body hair in a male pattern), oily skin, and acne. Additionally, the internal manifestations of the disease are potentially life threatening. These include metabolic changes such as high blood sugar, or diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fragility of various tissues including blood vessels, skin, muscle and bone, and psychologic disturbances such as depression, anxiety and insomnia. Untreated, the five-year survival rate is only approximately 50 percent. About the SONICS Study SONICS is an open-label, Phase 3 study of RECORLEV as a treatment for endogenous Cushing’s syndrome that enrolled 94 patients at centers in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Following a screening phase, SONICS has three treatment phases: (1) Dose Titration Phase: Patients started RECORLEV at 150 mg twice daily (300 mg total daily dose) and titrated in 150 mg increments with the goal of achieving a therapeutic dose – a dose resulting in mUFC normalization – at which point titration was stopped; (2) Maintenance Phase: The dose was fixed and should not have been changed other than for safety reasons or loss of efficacy. At the end of the six-month maintenance phase, the mUFC response rate was measured; and (3) Extended Evaluation Phase: Patients continued on RECORLEV for another six months to evaluate long-term safety and tolerability and explore efficacy durability. About the LOGICS Study The Phase 3, multinational, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized-withdrawal study, LOGICS, randomized Cushing’s syndrome patients with baseline mean urinary free cortisol (mUFC) at least 1.5 times the upper limit of normal (ULN) following completion of a single-arm, open-label treatment phase of approximately 14 to 19 weeks, with RECORLEV individually titrated according to mUFC response. A total of 79 patients were dosed during the open-label titration-maintenance phase, 7 of whom had previously received RECORLEV during the SONICS study, and 72 who had not previously received RECORLEV. At study baseline, the median mUFC was 3.5 times the ULN, indicative of significant hypercortisolemia. A total of 44 patients (39 who had completed the titration-maintenance phase and five who directly enrolled from the SONICS study), were randomized to either continue RECORLEV (n=22) or to have treatment withdrawn by receiving a matching placebo regimen (n=22) for up to 8 weeks, followed by restoration to the prior regimen using blinded drug. Of the 44 patients randomized, 11 patients (25 percent) had previously received RECORLEV during the SONICS study. Patients who required rescue treatment with open-label RECORLEV during the randomized-withdrawal phase were considered to have lost mUFC response at the visit corresponding to their first dose of rescue medication. Patients who did not qualify for randomization were removed from open-label treatment prior to randomization and excused from the study. About RECORLEV RECORLEV® (levoketoconazole) is an investigational cortisol synthesis inhibitor in development for the treatment of patients with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, a rare but serious and potentially lethal endocrine disease caused by chronic elevated cortisol exposure. RECORLEV is the pure 2S,4R enantiomer of ketoconazole, a steroidogenesis inhibitor. RECORLEV has demonstrated in two successful Phase 3 studies to significantly suppress serum cortisol and has the potential to be a next-generation cortisol inhibitor. The Phase 3 program for RECORLEV includes SONICS and LOGICS: two multinational studies designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of RECORLEV when used to treat endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. The SONICS study met its primary and secondary endpoints, demonstrating a statistically significant normalization rate of urinary free cortisol at six months. The LOGICS study, which met its primary endpoint, is a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized-withdrawal study of RECORLEV that is designed to supplement the long-term efficacy and safety information supplied by SONICS. The ongoing long-term open label OPTICS study will gather further useful information related to the long-term use of RECORLEV. RECORLEV has received orphan drug designation from the FDA and the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of endogenous Cushing's syndrome. About Strongbridge Biopharma Strongbridge Biopharma is a global commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of therapies for rare diseases with significant unmet needs. Strongbridge’s rare endocrine franchise includes RECORLEV® (levoketoconazole), a cortisol synthesis inhibitor currently being studied in Phase 3 clinical studies for the treatment of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, and veldoreotide extended release, a pre-clinical next-generation somatostatin analog being investigated for the treatment of acromegaly and potential additional applications in other conditions amenable to somatostatin receptor activation. Both RECORLEV and veldoreotide have received orphan drug designation from the FDA and the European Medicines Agency. The Company’s rare neuromuscular franchise includes KEVEYIS® (dichlorphenamide), the first and only FDA-approved treatment for hyperkalemic, hypokalemic, and related variants of primary periodic paralysis. KEVEYIS has orphan drug exclusivity in the United States. Forward-Looking Statements This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. The words “anticipate,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “project,” “target,” “will,” “would,” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, contained in this press release, are forward-looking statements, including statements related to data from the LOGICS and SONICS studies, the potential advantages of RECORLEV, the anticipated timing for potential approval of a marketing authorization for RECORLEV and for the potential launch of RECORLEV, Strongbridge’s strategy, plans, outcomes of product development efforts and objectives of management for future operations. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in such statement, including risks and uncertainties associated with clinical development and the regulatory approval process, the reproducibility of any reported results showing the benefits of RECORLEV, the adoption of RECORLEV by physicians, if approved, as treatment for any disease and the emergence of unexpected adverse events following regulatory approval and use of the product by patients. Additional risks and uncertainties relating to Strongbridge and its business can be found under the heading “Risk Factors” in Strongbridge’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 and its subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, as well as its other filings with the SEC. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections and are not guarantees of future performance or development and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of the date of this press release, and Strongbridge Biopharma does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements except as required by applicable law. Contacts: Corporate and Media Relations Elixir Health Public Relations Lindsay Rocco +1 862-596-1304 lrocco@elixirhealthpr.com Investor Relations Solebury Trout Mike Biega +1 617-221-9660 mbiega@soleburytrout.com From https://www.biospace.com/article/releases/strongbridge-biopharma-plc-announces-submission-of-new-drug-application-for-recorlev-levoketoconazole-for-the-treatment-of-endogenous-cushing-s-syndrome-to-the-u-s-food-and-drug-administration/
  19. Novel genetic associations could pave the way for early interventions and personalized treatment of an incurable condition. Scientists from the University of Bergen (Norway) and Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) have discovered the genes involved in autoimmune Addison's disease, a condition where the body's immune systems destroys the adrenal cortex leading to a life-threatening hormonal deficiency of cortisol and aldosterone. Groundbreaking study The rarity of Addison's disease has until now made scanning of the whole genome for clues to the disease's genetic origins difficult, as this method normally requires many thousands of study participants. However, by combining the world's two largest Addison's disease registries, Prof. Eystein Husebye and his team at the University of Bergen and collaborators at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden (prof. Kämpe) were able to identify strong genetic signals associated with the disease. Most of them are directly involved in the development and functioning of the human immune system including specific molecular types in the so-called HLA-region (this is what makes matching donors and recipients in organ transplants necessary) and two different types of a gene called AIRE (which stands for AutoImmune REgulator). AIRE is a key factor in shaping the immune system by removing self-reacting immune cells. Variants of AIRE, such as the ones identified in this study, could compromise this elimination of self-reacting cells, which could lead to an autoimmune attack later in life. Knowing what predisposes people to develop Addison's disease opens up the possibilities of determining the molecular repercussions of the predisposing genetic variation (currently ongoing in Prof. Husebye's lab). The fact that it is now feasible to map the genetic risk profile of an individual also means that personalised treatment aimed at stopping and even reversing the autoimmune adrenal destruction can become a feasible option in the future. ### Contact information: Professor at the University of Bergen, Eystein Husebye - Eystein.Husebye@uib.no - cell phone +47 99 40 47 88 Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system. From https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-02/tuob-nsi021221.php
  20. How stressed are you? Your earwax could hold the answer. A new method of collecting and analyzing earwax for levels of the stress hormone cortisol may be a simple and cheap way to track the mental health of people with depression and anxiety. Cortisol is a crucial hormone that spikes when a person is stressed and declines when they're relaxed. In the short-term, the hormone is responsible for the "fight or flight" response, so it's important for survival. But cortisol is often consistently elevated in people with depression and anxiety, and persistent high levels of cortisol can have negative effects on the immune system, blood pressure and other bodily functions. There are other disorders which involve abnormal cortisol, including Cushing's disease (caused by the overproduction of cortisol) and Addison's disease (caused by the underproduction of cortisol). People with Cushing's disease have abnormal fat deposits, weakened immune systems and brittle bones. People with Addison's disease have dangerously low blood pressure. There are a lot of ways to measure cortisol: in saliva, in blood, even in hair. But saliva and blood samples capture only a moment in time, and cortisol fluctuates significantly throughout the day. Even the experience of getting a needle stick to draw blood can increase stress, and thus cortisol levels. Hair samples can provide a snapshot of cortisol over several months instead of several minutes, but hair can be expensive to analyze — and some people don't have much of it. Andrés Herane-Vives, a lecturer at University College London's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Institute of Psychiatry, and his colleagues instead turned to the ear. Earwax is stable and resistant to bacterial contamination, so it can be shipped to a laboratory easily for analysis. It also can hold a record of cortisol levels stretching over weeks. But previous methods of harvesting earwax involved sticking a syringe into the ear and flushing it out with water, which can be slightly painful and stressful. So Herane-Vives and his colleagues developed a swab that, when used, would be no more stressful than a Q-tip. The swab has a shield around the handle, so that people can't stick it too far into their ear and damage their eardrum, and a sponge at the end to collect the wax. In a small pilot study, researchers collected blood, hair and earwax from 37 participants at two different time points. At each collection point, they sampled earwax using a syringe from one ear, and using the new self-swab method from the other. The researchers then compared the reliability of the cortisol measurements from the self-swab earwax with that of the other methods. They found that cortisol was more concentrated in earwax than in hair, making for easier analysis. Analyzing the self-swabbed earwax was also faster and more efficient than analyzing the earwax from the syringe, which had to be dried out before using. Finally, the earwax showed more consistency in cortisol levels compared with the other methods, which were more sensitive to fluctuations caused by things like recent alcohol consumption. Participants also said that self-swabbing was more comfortable than the syringe method. The researchers reported their findings Nov. 2 in the journal Heliyon. Herane-Vives is also starting a company called Trears to market the new method. In the future, he hopes that earwax could also be used to monitor other hormones. The researchers also need to follow up with studies of Asian individuals, who were left out of this pilot study because a significant number only produce dry, flaky earwax as opposed to wet, waxy earwax. "After this successful pilot study, if our device holds up to further scrutiny in larger trials, we hope to transform diagnostics and care for millions of people with depression or cortisol-related conditions such as Addison's disease and Cushing syndrome, and potentially numerous other conditions," he said in a statement. Originally published in Live Science.
  21. Abnormally high levels of cortisol in the urine — one of the hallmarks of Cushing’s syndrome — seem to be associated with alterations in blood sugar metabolism in obese patients, a study found. The study, “Hypercortisolism and altered glucose homeostasis in obese patients in the pre-bariatric surgery assessment,” was published in the journal Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews.
  22. Patients with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome who stopped using Recorlev (levoketoconazole) and moved to a placebo in a study started having their urine cortisol levels rise in response to lack of treatment, compared with those who remained on Recorlev, according to top-line data from the Phase 3 LOGICS trial. Based on these findings and data from a previous Phase 3 trial of Recorlev called SONICS (NCT01838551), the therapy’s developer, Strongbridge Biopharma, is planning to submit a new drug application requesting its approval to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) early next year. If approved, Recorlev could be available to patients in the U.S. in 2022. “We are delighted to announce the positive and statistically significant top-line results of the LOGICS study, which add to the growing body of evidence supporting the potential of Recorlev (levoketoconazole) as an effective and well tolerated cortisol synthesis inhibitor to treat Cushing’s syndrome,” Fredric Cohen, MD, chief medical officer of Strongbridge Biopharma, said in a press release. Recorlev, also known as COR-003, is an investigational oral treatment for endogenous Cushing’s syndrome that inhibits the production of cortisol, the glucocorticoid hormone that is overly produced in patients with the disorder. The safety, tolerability, effectiveness, and pharmacological properties of Recorlev in people with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome are currently being assessed in the LOGICS trial (NCT03277690). LOGICS enrolled patients who had never been treated with Recorlev, as well as those given the medication in SONICS. The study included an initial withdrawal phase, in which patients were assigned randomly to either Recorlev (up to a dose of 1,200 mg), or to a placebo for about 8 weeks. This was followed by a restoration phase, lasting approximately the same time, in which all patients received Recorlev in combination with a placebo. With this design, patients initially assigned to Recorlev continued treatment in the study’s second phase, while those originally assigned to a placebo switched to Recorlev. Before enrolling in the study’s initial randomized-withdrawal phase, patients completed an open-label titration and maintenance phase lasting 14 to 19 weeks, which determined the best dose of Recorlev they should receive later. Of the 79 patients who entered the open-label titration and maintenance phase, 44 enrolled in the randomized-withdrawal phase, and 43 completed this initial portion of the trial. Top-line data now announced by the company showed the proportion of patients having their urine cortisol levels rise by the end of the randomized-withdrawal phase was 54.5% higher among those on a placebo than among those treated with Recorlev (95.5% vs. 40.9%). All 21 patients who lost their initial treatment response in the open-label portion of the study, and saw their cortisol levels rise after moving to a placebo (withdrawal phase) were given early rescue treatment. Their cortisol levels started to drop after a median of 22 days. The percentage of patients whose urine cortisol levels were within normal range by the end of the withdrawal phase was 45.5% higher among those treated with Recorlev, compared with those given a placebo (50.0% vs. 4.5%). In addition to losing benefits related to cortisol control, patients receiving a withdrawal-phase placebo also lost the therapy’s positive cholesterol-lowering effects. “The Phase 3 LOGICS results complement the long-term efficacy and safety data supplied by the Phase 3 SONICS study, which was published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, by confirming that the effects of Recorlev (levoketoconazole) were responsible for the therapeutic response when treatment was continued compared to withdrawing patients to placebo,” said Maria Fleseriu, MD, FACE, professor of Medicine and Neurological Surgery and director of the Oregon Health Sciences University Pituitary Center, and principal investigator of the study. “The LOGICS findings — which build upon the long-term benefit shown during open-label treatment in SONICS — provide robust evidence to support the use of RECORLEV as an important treatment option for this life-threatening rare endocrine disease,” Fleseriu added. Recorlev was found to be safe and well-tolerated in LOGICS. Of the 79 patients who entered in the study’s open-label titration and maintenance phase, 19% discontinued due to side effects in this phase, and none of the 44 who proceeded to the withdrawal phase stopped treatment for these reasons. The most common side effects observed during the first two parts of LOGICS included nausea (29%), low blood potassium levels (28%), headache (21%), high blood pressure (19%), and diarrhea (15%). Some patients saw the levels of their liver enzymes rise above normal levels — a sign of liver inflammation and damage — during the study. However, this and other side effects of special interest, including those associated with adrenal insufficiency, resolved by either lowering the dose or stopping treatment with Recorlev. The proportion of patients experiencing these side effects was similar to that seen in SONICS. These findings are part of a subset of data from a planned interim analysis of LOGICS. Final study data requires analyses of additional datasets. Adapted from https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/09/08/2089872/0/en/Strongbridge-Biopharma-plc-Announces-Positive-and-Statistically-Significant-Top-Line-Results-from-the-Pivotal-Phase-3-LOGICS-Study-of-RECORLEV-levoketoconazole-for-the-Treatment-of.html
  23. Abstract Despite various approaches to immunoassay and chromatography for monitoring cortisol concentrations, conventional methods require bulky external equipment, which limits their use as mobile health care systems. Here, we describe a human pilot trial of a soft, smart contact lens for real-time detection of the cortisol concentration in tears using a smartphone. A cortisol sensor formed using a graphene field-effect transistor can measure cortisol concentration with a detection limit of 10 pg/ml, which is low enough to detect the cortisol concentration in human tears. In addition, this soft contact lens only requires the integration of this cortisol sensor with transparent antennas and wireless communication circuits to make a smartphone the only device needed to operate the lens remotely without obstructing the wearer’s view. Furthermore, in vivo tests using live rabbits and the human pilot experiment confirmed the good biocompatibility and reliability of this lens as a noninvasive, mobile health care solution. INTRODUCTION The steroid hormone, cortisol, which is known as a stress hormone, is secreted by the adrenal gland when people are stressed psychologically or physically (1). This secretion occurs when the adrenal gland is stimulated by adrenocorticotropic hormone, which is secreted by the pituitary gland when it is stimulated by the corticotropin-releasing hormone secreted by the hypothalamus. This serial cortisol secretion system is referred to as a hypothalamus–pituitary gland–adrenal gland axis, which is affected by chronic stress, resulting in abnormal secretion of cortisol (2, 3). The accumulation of cortisol caused by the abnormal secretion of cortisol increases the concentrations of fat and amino acid, which can result in diverse severe diseases (e.g., Cushing’s disease, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular complications, and type 2 diabetes) and neurological disorders (such as depression and anxiety disorders) (2–7). In contrast, abnormally low cortisol levels can lead to Addison’s disease, which results in hypercholesterolemia, weight loss, and chronic fatigue (8). In addition, it was recently reported that plasma cortisol can be correlated to the prognosis of traumatic brain injury (9). Furthermore, the extent of cortisol secretion varies from person to person, and it changes continuously (10, 11). Thus, developing health care systems for real-time monitoring of the cortisol level has been explored extensively over the past decade as the key to the quantitative analysis of stress levels. Although various efforts have led to the development of cortisol sensors that can measure the concentration of cortisol in blood, saliva, sweat, hair, urine, and interstitial fluid (12–17), the accurate measurement of cortisol concentrations has been limited because of the difficulties associated with the transportation and storage of cortisol as well as the instability of the biologically active cortisol in these body fluids at room temperature. In addition, these conventional sensing methods require bulky equipment for the extraction and analysis of these body fluids, which is not suitable for mobile health care systems (12, 18). Therefore, the development of noninvasive and wearable sensors that can monitor cortisol concentration accurately is highly desirable for a smart health care solution. For example, the immunoassay method, which uses an antigen-antibody binding reaction, has been used extensively for electrochemical cortisol immunosensors using saliva and interstitial fluid, except tears (12, 14, 19). However, these immunosensors still require the use of bulky impedance analyzers for the analysis of the Nyquist plot from electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Although the cyclic voltammetry (CV) technique can be used as an alternative approach for sensing cortisol, additional bulky electrochemical instruments still are necessary for analyzing the CV curves (13, 14, 19). Recently, wearable forms of cortisol sensors that use sweat were developed (15), but they still required bulky measurement equipment (15, 16). Therefore, portable and smart sensors that can monitor the accurate concentration of cortisol in real time are highly desirable for use in mobile health care. Among the various body fluids, tears, in particular, contain important biomarkers, including cortisol (20, 21). Thus, the integration of biosensors with contact lenses is a potentially attractive candidate for the noninvasive and real-time monitoring of these biomarkers from tears (22–25). However, an approach for fabricating a smart contact lens for sensing the cortisol in tears has not been demonstrated previously. Thus, here, we present an extraordinary approach for the formation of a smart, soft contact lens that enables remote, real-time monitoring of the cortisol level in the wearer’s tears using mobile phones. This smart, soft contact lens is composed of a cortisol sensor, a wireless antenna, capacitors, resistors, and integrated circuit chips that use stretchable interconnects without obstructing the wearer’s view. The components of this device (except the antenna) were protected from mechanical deformations by locating each of the components on discrete, rigid islands and by embedding these islands inside an elastic layer. A graphene field-effect transistor (FET; with the binding of monoclonal antibody) was used as this cortisol immunosensor, which exhibited a sufficiently low detection limit, i.e., 10 pg/ml, for its sensing of cortisol in human tears in which the cortisol concentration ranges from 1 to 40 ng/ml (26). This sensor was integrated with a near-field communication (NFC) chip and antenna inside the soft contact lens for the real-time wireless transmission of the data to the user’s mobile device (e.g., a smart phone or a smart watch). The antenna occupies a relatively large area of this soft lens, so it requires its high stretchability, good transparency, and low resistance for operating a standard NFC chip at 13.56 MHz. In our approach, the hybrid random networks of ultralong silver nanofibers (AgNFs) and fine silver nanowires (AgNWs) enabled high transparency and good stretchability of this antenna and its low sheet resistance for reliable standard NFCs (at 13.56 MHz) inside this smart contact lens. Thus, the fully integrated system of this smart contact lens provided wireless and battery-free operation for the simultaneous detection and transmission of the cortisol concentration from tears to a mobile phone using standard NFC. In addition, a human pilot trial and in vivo tests conducted using live rabbits demonstrated the biocompatibility of this lens, and its safety against inflammation and thermal/electromagnetic field radiation suggests its substantial usability as a noninvasive, mobile health care solution. RESULTS Cortisol immunosensor A graphene FET sensor was fabricated by binding the cortisol monoclonal antibody (C-Mab) to the surface of graphene for the immunosensing of cortisol. Here, graphene acts as a transducer that converts the interaction between cortisol and C-Mab into electrical signals. Figure 1A shows the immobilization process of C-Mab to graphene. Immobilization proceeds through amide bonding of the C-Mab onto the carboxyl group of the graphene surface via the EDC [1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride]/NHS (N-hydroxysulfosuccinimide) coupling reaction. A chemical vapor deposition–synthesized graphene layer was transferred onto a desired substrate and exposed to ultraviolet ozone (UVO) to activate the surface of the graphene with the carboxylate group. Figure S1 shows the contact angle between this surface of the graphene and a droplet of deionized (DI) water. Longer exposure time to UVO can decrease the hydrophobicity of graphene with decreasing the contact angle. Table S1 shows the increase in the electrical resistance of graphene that resulted from this UVO treatment. In our experiment, 2 min of exposure time to UVO decreased the contact angle from 70° to 38° without increasing the resistance of the graphene notably. UVO exposure times longer than this threshold time degraded the resistance of the graphene excessively, so the time of exposure of our samples to UVO was limited to 2 min. Figure S2A illustrates the process of immobilizing C-Mab through the EDC/NHS coupling reaction. This two-step coupling reaction of EDC and NHS can mediate the amide bonding between the carboxylate group of the UVO-exposed graphene and the amine group of the protein (12, 17, 27, 28). Here, EDC forms reactive O-acylisourea ester, thereby making the surface unstable. This O-acylisourea ester reacts with the NHS to form amine-reactive NHS ester with the surface still remaining semistable. Then, C-Mab with the amine group reacts with the amine-reactive NHS ester, thereby forming stable amide bonding that can immobilize C-Mab to the NHS on the surface of the graphene. Figure S2B shows the Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy spectra of the DI water after the cortisol sensor had been immersed for 24 hours. The spectra of the DI water in which the sensor was immersed were not significantly different from those of the pristine DI water. However, the C-Mab solution that had a concentration of 1 μg/ml had a significant peak intensity in the range of 3000 to 2800 cm−1, representing the N-H bonding in the C-Mab. These results indicated that C-Mab formed stable bonding on the carboxylated graphene and was negligibly detached by exposure to water. From https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/28/eabb2891
  24. Dr. Friedman will discuss topics including: Who should get an adrenalectomy? How do you optimally replace adrenal hormones? What laboratory tests are needed to monitor replacement? When and how do you stress dose? What about subcut cortisol versus cortisol pumps? Patient Melissa will lead a Q and A Sunday • May 17 • 6 PM PST Click here on start your meeting or https://axisconciergemeetings.webex.com/axisconciergemeetings/j.php?MTID=mb896b9ec88bc4e1163cf4194c55b248f OR Join by phone: (855) 797-9485 Meeting Number (Access Code): 802 841 537 Your phone/computer will be muted on entry. Slides will be available on the day of the talk here There will be plenty of time for questions using the chat button. Meeting Password: addison For more information, email us at mail@goodhormonehealth.com
  25. Dr. Friedman will discuss topics including: Who should get an adrenalectomy? How do you optimally replace adrenal hormones? What laboratory tests are needed to monitor replacement? When and how do you stress dose? What about subcut cortisol versus cortisol pumps? Patient Melissa will lead a Q and A Sunday • May 17 • 6 PM PST Click here on start your meeting or https://axisconciergemeetings.webex.com/axisconciergemeetings/j.php?MTID=mb896b9ec88bc4e1163cf4194c55b248f OR Join by phone: (855) 797-9485 Meeting Number (Access Code): 802 841 537 Your phone/computer will be muted on entry. Slides will be available on the day of the talk here There will be plenty of time for questions using the chat button. Meeting Password: addison For more information, email us at mail@goodhormonehealth.com
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