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  1. What You Need to Know COVID-19 Vaccine booster shots are available for the following Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least 6 months ago and are: 65 years and older Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions Age 18+ who work in high-risk settings Age 18+ who live in high-risk settings Those "underlying medical conditions" include diabetes and obesity.
  2. As of September 1, 2021, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is the virus responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has infected over 219 million and caused the deaths of over 4.5 million worldwide. Although COVID-19 has been traditionally associated with its ability to cause varied symptoms resembling acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), emerging scientific evidence has demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 causes much more damage beyond its effects on the upper respiratory tract. To this end, in a recent study published in Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, the researchers discuss the extra-pulmonary manifestations of COVID-19. Risk factors for severe COVID-19 It is now a well-known fact that the likelihood of people falling severely ill or dying from COVID-19 is increases if these individuals are obese, or have certain comorbidities like diabetes mellitus (DM), vitamin D deficiency, and vertebral fractures (VFs). Any abnormality in the pituitary gland may lead to metabolic disorders, impaired immunity, and a host of other conditions that also make the body susceptible to infections. Since such conditions are common in patients with COVID-19 as well, it has been hypothesized that there might be a relationship between COVID-19 and pituitary gland disorders. On the other hand, researchers have also observed that COVID-19 causes increased severity of pituitary-related disorders, and even pituitary apoplexy, which is a condition defined as internal bleeding or impaired blood supply in the pituitary gland. A group of Italian researchers has reviewed this bidirectional relationship between the pituitary gland abnormalities and COVID-19 in their study recently published in Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. The link between pituitary gland abnormalities and COVID19 The pituitary gland releases hormones that regulate and control some of the most important functions of the body like growth, metabolism, energy levels, bone health, mood swings, vision, reproduction, and immunity, to name a few. The inability of the pituitary gland to release one or more of these hormones is known as ‘hypopituitarism.’ Factors responsible for hypopituitarism include traumatic brain injury, pituitary adenomas (tumors), genetic mutations, as well as infiltrative and infectious diseases. Hypopituitarism can lead to severe cases of DM, growth hormone deficiency (GHD), abnormal lipid profile, obesity, arterial hypertension, and immune dysfunctions. Interestingly, similar consequences of COVID-19 have also been reported. SARS-CoV-2 infects the human body by binding to a special class of receptors known as the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors. These receptors are located in the endothelial linings of most organs like the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, intestine, liver, and pancreas, among others. The main function of the ACE2 receptors is binding to specific target molecules to maintain the renin-angiotensin system that is crucial for regulating dilation of blood vessels, as well as maintain blood glucose levels, the immune system, and homeostasis. Therefore, SARS-CoV-2 binding to these ACE2 receptors facilitates the entry of this virus into all the organs that have these receptors, thus leading to the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to cause widespread damage in the body. Upon entry into the pancreas, for example, SARS-CoV-2 can inhibit ß-cells function, which worsens hyperglycemia and increases the risk for acute diabetic complications. Similarly, the presence of ACE2 receptors in brain tissues may cause invasion into the pituitary gland and lead to pituitary apoplexy. The entry of SARS-CoV-2 into the brain can also cause neurological damage in infected patients, which may account for some of the common neurological complaints of COVID-19 including headaches, confusion, dysgeusia, anosmia, nausea, and vomiting. Study findings Hypopituitarism leading to metabolic syndrome has been scientifically linked to higher mortality in COVID-19 patients. In fact, the presence of a single metabolic syndrome component has been observed to double the risk of death by COVID-19. This risk was even higher among patients with DM and hypertension. There was also an increased incidence of VFs in COVID-19 patients with hypopituitarism. Hence, patients with DM, obesity, hypertension, and chronic inflammatory disease, are all at an increased risk of poor outcomes and death in COVID-19. Arterial hypertension is a common finding in adults with GHD, which is another consequence of hypopituitarism. Hypopituitarism also causes adrenal insufficiency, a condition that is primarily managed with glucocorticoids and hormonal replacement therapies. Notably, patients with COVID-19 are often treated for prolonged periods with high-dose exogenous glucocorticoids, which is a class of steroids that suppress some activities of the immune system. This treatment approach may result in suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary–adrenal axis that can lead to adrenal insufficiency. Hypogonadism is another aspect of pituitary insufficiency that predisposes patients, especially males, to COVID-19. Evidence shows that males with hypogonadism were more frequently affected by metabolic syndrome. Pituitary apoplexy, albeit rare, has also been linked to COVID-19, especially in patients with pituitary adenomas and those who are being treated with anticoagulant therapy. This may be because the pituitary gland becomes overstimulated during an infectious disease, which may increase pituitary blood demand and lead to sudden infarction precipitating acute apoplexy. This phenomenon has also been shown in patients suffering from infectious diseases that cause hemorrhagic fevers. Taken together, pituitary apoplexy complicates treatment and management procedures in COVID-19 patients. Despite the use of steroids in COVID-19 patients, there have been no contraindications for vaccination in such patients. However, those on extensive hormonal therapies need constant monitoring for best results. Implications The pituitary gland acts like a double-edged sword for COVID-19. On one end, hypopituitarism predisposes patients to metabolic disorders like DM, obesity, and VFs, all of which are known risk factors for COVID-19. On the other hand, COVID-19 may cause direct or indirect damage to the pituitary glands by entering the brain and inducing unfavorable vascular events – though evidence on this remains lesser in comparison to that of hypopituitarism. Ultimately, the researchers of the current study conclude that managing patients with hormonal insufficiencies optimally with steroids is likely to improve outcomes in severe COVID-19. Journal reference: Frara, S., Loli, P., Allora, A., et al. (2021). COVID-19 and hypopituitarism. Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. doi:10.1007/s11154-021-09672-y. https://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11154-021-09672-y#citeas. From https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210905/Hypopituitarism-and-COVID-19-e28093-exploring-a-possible-bidirectional-relationship.aspx
  3. This article was originally published here J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Jul 29:dgab557. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgab557. Online ahead of print. ABSTRACT CONTEXT: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a proinflammatory and prothrombotic condition, but its impact on adrenal function has not been adequately evaluated. CASE REPORT: A 46-year-old woman presented with abdominal pain, hypotension, and skin hyperpigmentation after COVID-19 infection. The patient had hyponatremia, serum cortisol <1.0 µg/dL, adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) of 807 pg/mL, and aldosterone ❤️ ng/dL. Computed tomography (CT) findings of adrenal enlargement with no parenchymal and minimal peripheral capsular enhancement after contrast were consistent with bilateral adrenal infarction. The patient had autoimmune hepatitis and positive antiphospholipid antibodies, but no previous thrombotic events. The patient was treated with intravenous hydrocortisone, followed by oral hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone. DISCUSSION: We identified 9 articles, including case reports, of new-onset adrenal insufficiency and/or adrenal hemorrhage/infarction on CT in COVID-19. Adrenal insufficiency was hormonally diagnosed in 5 cases, but ACTH levels were measured in only 3 cases (high in 1 case and normal/low in other 2 cases). Bilateral adrenal nonhemorrhagic or hemorrhagic infarction was identified in 5 reports (2 had adrenal insufficiency, 2 had normal cortisol levels, and 1 case had no data). Interestingly, the only case with well-characterized new-onset acute primary adrenal insufficiency after COVID-19 had a previous diagnosis of antiphospholipid syndrome. In our case, antiphospholipid syndrome diagnosis was established only after the adrenal infarction triggered by COVID-19. CONCLUSION: Our findings support the association between bilateral adrenal infarction and antiphospholipid syndrome triggered by COVID-19. Therefore, patients with positive antiphospholipid antibodies should be closely monitored for symptoms or signs of acute adrenal insufficiency during COVID-19. PMID:34463766 | DOI:10.1210/clinem/dgab557
  4. Dr. Friedman is getting a lot of emails on booster shots versus third shots. Third shots are for immuno-compromised patients that the FDA is recommending for a small group of patients The FDA also has the intention to soon make booster doses widely available to all healthy individuals. I am writing to clarify the difference between booster shots and third doses. Third Doses for Immuno-Compromised Patients The purpose of a third dose of mRNA vaccine is to give immuno-compromised patients the same level of protection that two doses provide someone who has a normal immune system. It is recommended that the following people get a third dose Been receiving cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system Been diagnosed with moderate or severe immunodeficiency conditions (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome) An advanced or untreated HIV infection Been under active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (> 20 mg of prednisone or 100 mg of hydrocortisone) or other drugs that may suppress immune response Dr. Friedman thinks it is unlikely that any of his patients have these conditions. Patients with Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s, diabetes or thyroid disorders do not qualify. In contrast, a Booster Dose is for Patients With Healthy Immune Systems A booster dose—which is different from a third dose for immuno-compromised patients—is for healthy patients and is meant to enhance immunity and may protect against new variants of the virus. The Biden administration has announced that it intends to make booster doses available for people with healthy immune systems in September 2021, after they are authorized or approved by the FDA. This has not happened yet, but when it happens, Dr. Friedman would encourage his patients to get it. Dr. Friedman is expecting a booster shot against the Delta variant to be released in the fall of 2021 and would recommend that for his patients. Dr. Friedman wishes everyone to stay healthy.
  5. All of our country is very encouraged by the declining rates in both COVID-19 infections and death, due mostly to President Trump’s vaccine production and trial effort called Operation Warp Speed and President Biden’s vaccine distribution efforts. As of July 2021, The United States has administered 334,600,770 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, 184,132,768 people had received at least one dose while 159,266,536 people are fully vaccinated. The pandemic is by no means over, as people are still getting infected with COVID-19 with the emergence of the Delta Variant. In fact, recently cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 have gone up. In Los Angeles, the increased infection rate has led to indoor mask requirements. The main reason that COVID-19 has not been eliminated is because of vaccine hesitancy, which is often due to misinformation propagated on websites and social media. One of Dr. Friedman's patients gave him a link of an alternative doctor who gave multiple episodes of misinformation subtitled “Evidence suggests people who have received the COVID “vaccine” may have a reduced lifespan” about the COVID-19 vaccine that Dr. Friedman wants to address. Almost 30% of American say they will not get the vaccine, up from 20% a few months ago. Statistics are that people who are vaccinated have a 1:1,000,000 chance of dying from COVID, while people who are unvaccinated have a 1:500 chance of dying from COVID. I think most people would take the 1:1,000,000 risk. Dr. Friedman has always been a proponent of the COVID-19 vaccine because he is a scientist and bases his decisions on peer-reviewed literature and not social media posts. As we are getting to the stage where the COVID-19 pandemic could end if vaccination rates increase, he feels that it is even more important for people to get correct information about the COVID-19 vaccine. MYTH: People are dying at high rates from the COVID-19 vaccine and the rates of complications and deaths are underreported. FACT: The rates of complications and deaths from the vaccine are overreported. It is a fact that when 200 million people get a vaccine, some of them will get blood clots, some of them will have a heart attack, some of them will have strokes, some of them will have optic neuritis and some will have Guillain-Barré syndrome. These complications may not be due to the vaccine, but people remember that they got the vaccine recently. Anti-vaccine websites seem to play up on this and give false information that COVID-19 complications are underreported and fail to note that there is no control group, so we do not know how many people would have gotten blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks if they did not get the vaccine. For example, one anti-vaccine website highlighted a Tamil (Indian) actor Vivek, who died of a massive heart attack 5 days after getting the COVID-19 vaccine and tried to make a case that the vaccine caused that. Of course, the massive heart attack was due to years of buildup of cholesterol in his coronary arteries and had nothing to do with the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, the complications attributed to the COVID-19 vaccine occur less frequently in those vaccinated than unvaccinated. The only complication that seems to possibly be more common in people who get vaccinated is blood clots, and the rate of that is still quite low. Overwhelmingly, the COVID-19 vaccine is effective and safe. MYTH: I had COVID-19 before. I don't need a vaccine. Natural immunity is better than a vaccine immunity. FACT: Most studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines are more effective, with longer-lasting immunity, than only having the COVID-19 infection. The immunity after natural infection varies and may be quite minimal in patients who had mild COVID-19 and likely declines within a couple of months of infection. In contrast, those who got the vaccine seem to have high levels of immunity even months after getting the vaccine. The vaccine also protects against the COVID-19 variants. If someone had one variant, it is unlikely that their natural immunity would protect them against other variants. MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine leads to spike proteins circulating in your body for months after the vaccine. FACT: The mRNA from the vaccine, the spike protein that it generates, and all of the products of the COVID-19 vaccine are gone within hours, if not days, and do not hang around the body. MYTH: There is likely to be long-term effects, including infertility effects, of the COVID-19 vaccine. FACT: As the viral particles and proteins are gone within a couple hours to days and the vaccine only enters the cytoplasm and does not enter the DNA, it is very unlikely that there will be long-term effects. So far, the clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine have not resulted in any detrimental effects, and it has been a year since the trials started. Other vaccines have been used safely and do not give long-term side effects. There is no reason to think that this vaccine would give long-term side effects, and we have not seen any evidence of long-term side effects currently. Pregnant women who received COVID-19 vaccines have similar rates adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes (e.g., fetal loss, preterm birth, small size for gestational age, congenital anomalies, and neonatal death) as with pregnant women who did not receive vaccines. MYTH: People with autoimmune disease should not get the vaccine. FACT: Persons with autoimmune disease are likely more susceptible to COVID-19, and they should especially get the vaccine. People with preexisting conditions, including autoimmune diseases, have been shown to be give generally excellent immune responses to the vaccine, and it should especially be given to patients with Addison’s disease or Cushing's disease who may have higher rates of getting more severe COVID-19. In fact, the CDC as well Dr. Friedman recommends EVERYONE getting the vaccine, except 1) those under 12, 2) those who had an anaphylactic reaction to their first COVID-19 vaccine. Patients with AIDS, and those on immunosuppressive therapy for cancers, organ transplants and rheumatological conditions, may not be fully protected from vaccines and should be cautious (including wearing masks and social distancing), but still should get vaccinated. MYTH: Patients with autoimmune diseases, and other conditions do not mount an adequate immune response to the vaccine and may even should get a booster shot. FACT: The only patients that have been found not to have a good immune response to the vaccine is those with AIDS or on immunosuppressive drugs that are used in people with rheumatological diseases or transplants. With these exception, patients appear to mount a good immune response to the vaccine regardless of their preexisting condition and do not need a booster shot. MYTH: Why should I bother with the vaccine if it is going to require a booster shot? FACT: It is unclear whether booster shots will be required or not. Currently, the CDC and FDA do not recommend a booster shot, but Pfizer has petitioned the FDA to consider it and is starting more studies on whether a booster shot is effective. It is currently believed that the vaccine retains effectiveness for months to years after it is given. MYTH: We are almost at herd immunity now. Why bother getting a vaccine? FACT: We are not at herd immunity as people are still getting sick and dying from COVID-19. Dr. Friedman recently lost to COVID-19 his 43-year old patient with obesity and diabetes at MLK Outpatient Center. There are pockets in the United States with low vaccine rates, especially in the South. The vaccine is spreading among unvaccinated people, while the rate of spread among vaccinated people is quite low. Approximately 98% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. It is important from a public health viewpoint for all Americans to get vaccinated. MYTH: There is nothing to be concerned with about the variants. FACT: Especially the delta variant appears to be more contagious and aggressive than the other variants currently. The vaccines do appear to be effective against the delta variant but possibly a little less so. Variants multiply and can generate new variants only if they are infected into patients who are unvaccinated. To end the emergence of new variants, it is important for all Americans to get vaccinated. MYTH: I could just be careful, and I will not get the COVID-19 vaccine. FACT: Thousands of people who were careful and got COVID-19 and either died from it or became extremely sick. The best prevention against getting COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. MYTH: I am young. I do not have to worry about getting COVID. FACT: Many young people have gotten sick and died of COVID-19 and also, they are contagious and can spread COVID-19 if they are not vaccinated. Everyone, regardless of their age, as long as they are over 12, should get vaccinated. MYTH: If children under 12 are not vaccinated, the virus will still spread. FACT: The FDA and CDC do not recommend the vaccine for those under 12. They are very unlikely to get COVID-19 and are very unlikely to transmit it to others. They are the one group that does not need to get vaccinated. MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines are an experimental vaccine. FACT: While it is true that the FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines were granted emergency use authorization in December 2020 (Pfizer and Moderna) and Johnson and Johnson in February 2021. Both Pfizer and Moderna have petitioned the FDA for full approval, but by no means are these vaccines experimental. As mentioned, over 180 million Americans and many more worldwide have received the vaccine. This is more than any other FDA approved medication. Clinical trials are still ongoing and have enrolled thousands of people and Israel has monitored the effect of COVID-19 vaccines in 7 million Israelis. MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine is a government plot to kill or injure people or a war against G-d. FACT: Yeah right If you want the pandemic to end, please get vaccinated and encourage your friends and colleagues to get vaccinated. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Friedman, go to goodhormonehealth.com
  6. This article was originally published here Endocrinol Diabetes Metab Case Rep. 2021 May 1;2021:EDM210038. doi: 10.1530/EDM-21-0038. Online ahead of print. ABSTRACT SUMMARY: In this case report, we describe the management of a patient who was admitted with an ectopic ACTH syndrome during the COVID pandemic with new-onset type 2 diabetes, neutrophilia and unexplained hypokalaemia. These three findings when combined should alert physicians to the potential presence of Cushing’s syndrome (CS). On admission, a quick diagnosis of CS was made based on clinical and biochemical features and the patient was treated urgently using high dose oral metyrapone thus allowing delays in surgery and rapidly improving the patient’s clinical condition. This resulted in the treatment of hyperglycaemia, hypokalaemia and hypertension reducing cardiovascular risk and likely risk for infection. Observing COVID-19 pandemic international guidelines to treat patients with CS has shown to be effective and offers endocrinologists an option to manage these patients adequately in difficult times. LEARNING POINTS: This case report highlights the importance of having a low threshold for suspicion and investigation for Cushing’s syndrome in a patient with neutrophilia and hypokalaemia, recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes especially in someone with catabolic features of the disease irrespective of losing weight. It also supports the use of alternative methods of approaching the diagnosis and treatment of Cushing’s syndrome during a pandemic as indicated by international protocols designed specifically for managing this condition during Covid-19. PMID:34013889 | DOI:10.1530/EDM-21-0038 From https://www.docwirenews.com/abstracts/rapid-control-of-ectopic-cushings-syndrome-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-in-a-patient-with-chronic-hypokalaemia/
  7. This month marks a little over one year since the first surge of COVID-19 across the United States. April is also Adrenal Insufficiency Awareness month, a good time to review the data on how COVID-19 infection can impact the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands make hormones to help regulate blood pressure and the ability to respond to stress. The hormones include steroids such as glucocorticoid (cortisol), mineralocorticoid (aldosterone), and forms of adrenaline known as catecholamines (norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine). The activity of the adrenal gland is controlled through its relationship with the pituitary gland (the master regulator of hormones in the body). Some common adrenal diseases include the following: Addison’s Disease (where the body attacks the adrenal glands making them dysfunctional) Hyperaldosteronism Cushing’s Syndrome Pheochromocytoma Adrenal Nodules/Masses (termed incidentaloma) Congenital adrenal hyperplasia COVID-19 was found in the adrenal and pituitary glands of some patients who succumbed to the illness, suggesting that these organs might be among the targets for infection. One of the first highly effective therapies for COVID-19 infection was the use of IV steroid (dexamethasone) supplementation in hospitalized patients in patients requiring oxygen. A focused search of COVID-19-related health literature shows 85 peer-reviewed papers that have been published in medical literature specifically on the adrenal gland and COVID-19. This literature focuses on three phases of COVID infection that may impact the adrenal gland: the acute active infection phase, the immediate post-infection phase, and the long-term recovery phase. Medical research has identified that during the acute active infection, the adrenal system is one of the most heavily affected organ systems in the body in patients who have COVID-19 infection requiring hospitalization. In these cases, supplementation with the steroid dexamethasone serves as one of the most powerful lifesaving treatments. Concern has also been raised regarding the period of time just after the acute infection phase – particularly, the development of adrenal insufficiency following cases of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Additionally, some professional societies recommend that for patients who have adrenal insufficiency and are on adrenal replacement therapy, they be monitored closely post-COVID-19 vaccine for the development of stress-induced adrenal insufficiency. In mild-to-moderate COVID-19 cases, there does not seem to be an effect on adrenaline-related hormones (norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine). However, in cases of severe COVID-19 infection triggering the development of shock, patients will need supplementation with an infusion of catecholamines and a hormone called vasopressin to maintain their blood pressure. Finally, some studies have addressed the concern of adrenal insufficiency during the long-term recovery phase. Dr Sara Bedrose, adrenal endocrine specialist at Baylor College of Medicine, indicates that studies which included adrenal function in COVID survivors showed a large percentage of patients with suboptimal cortisol secretion during what is called ACTH stimulation testing. Results indicated that most of those cases had central adrenal insufficiency. It was concluded that adrenal insufficiency might be among the long-term consequences of COVID-19 and it seemed to be secondary to pituitary gland inflammation (called hypophysitis) or due to direct hypothalamic damage. Long-term follow-up of COVID 19 survivors will be necessary to exclude a gradual and late-onset adrenal insufficiency. Some patients who have COVID-19 will experience prolonged symptoms. To understand what is happening to them, patients may question whether or not they have a phenomenon called adrenal fatigue. This is a natural question to ask, especially after having such a severe health condition. A tremendous amount of resources are being developed to investigate the source and treatment of the symptoms, and this work has only just begun. However, adrenal fatigue is not a real medical diagnosis. It’s a term to describe a group of signs and symptoms that arise due to underactive adrenal glands. Current scientific data indicate that adrenal fatigue is not in and of itself a medical disease – although a variety of over-the-counter supplements and compounded medications may be advocated for in treatment by alternative medicine/naturopathic practitioners. My takeaway is that we have learned a great deal about the effects COVID-19 infection has on the adrenal glands. Long-term COVID-19 remains an area to be explored – especially in regards to how it may affect the adrenal glands. -By Dr. James Suliburk, associate professor of surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology and section chief of endocrine surgery for the Thyroid and Parathyroid Center at Baylor College of Medicine From https://blogs.bcm.edu/2021/04/22/how-does-covid-19-impact-the-adrenal-gland/
  8. Some of the latest research advancements in the field of endocrinology presented at the Endocrine Society's virtual ENDO 2021 meeting included quantifying diabetic ketoacidosis readmission rates, hyperglycemia as a severe COVID-19 predictor, and semaglutide as a weight loss therapy. Below are a few more research highlights: More Safety Data on Jatenzo In a study of 81 men with hypogonadism -- defined as a serum testosterone level below 300 ng/dL -- oral testosterone replacement therapy (Jatenzo) was both safe and effective in a manufacturer-sponsored study. After 24 months of oral therapy, testosterone concentration increased from an average baseline of 208.3 ng/dL to 470.1 ng/dL, with 84% of patients achieving a number in the eugonadal range. And importantly, the treatment also demonstrated liver safety, as there were no significant changes in liver function tests throughout the 2-year study -- including alanine aminotransferase (28.0 ± 12.3 to 26.6 ± 12.8 U/L), aspartate transaminase (21.8 ± 6.8 to 22.0 ± 8.2 U/L), and bilirubin levels (0.58 ± 0.22 to 0.52 ± 0.19 mg/dL). Throughout the trial, only one participant had elevation of liver function tests. "Our study finds testosterone undecanoate is an effective oral therapy for men with low testosterone levels and has a safety profile consistent with other approved testosterone products, without the drawbacks of non-oral modes of administration," said lead study author Ronald Swerdloff, MD, of the Lundquist Research Institute in Torrance, California, in a statement. In addition, for many men with hypogonadism, "an oral option is preferred to avoid issues associated with other modes of administration, such as injection site pain or transference to partners and children," he said. "Before [testosterone undecanoate] was approved, the only orally approved testosterone supplemental therapy in the United States was methyltestosterone, which was known to be associated with significant chemical-driven liver damage." Oral testosterone undecanoate received FDA approval in March 2019 following a rocky review history. COVID-19 Risk With Adrenal Insufficiency Alarming new data suggested that children with adrenal insufficiency were more than 23 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than kids without this condition (relative risk 23.68, P<0.0001). This equated to 11 deaths out of 1,328 children with adrenal insufficiency compared with 215 deaths out of 609,788 children without this condition (0.828% vs 0.035%). These young patients with adrenal insufficiency also saw a much higher rate of sepsis (RR 21.68, P<0.0001) and endotracheal intubation with COVID-19 infection (RR 25.45, P<0.00001). Data for the analysis were drawn from the international TriNetX database, which included patient records of children ages 18 and younger diagnosed with COVID-19 from 60 healthcare organizations in 31 different countries. "It's really important that you take your hydrocortisone medications and start stress dosing as soon as you're sick," study author Manish Raisingani, MD, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children's in Little Rock, explained during a press conference. "This will help prevent significant complications due to COVID-19 or any other infections. A lot of the complications that we see in kids with adrenal insufficiency are due to inadequate stress dosing of steroids." And with kids starting to return back to in-person schooling, "parents should also be reeducated about using the emergency injections of hydrocortisone," Raisingani added. He noted that the COVID-19 complication rates were likely so high in this patient population because many had secondary adrenal insufficiency due to being on long-term, chronic steroids. Many also had comorbid respiratory illnesses, as well. Cushing's Death Risk In a systematic review and meta-analysis of 87 studies -- including data on 17,276 patients with endogenous Cushing's syndrome -- researchers found that these patients face a much higher death rate than those without this condition. Overall, patients with endogenous Cushing's syndrome faced a nearly three times higher mortality ratio (standardized mortality ratio 2.91, 95% CI 2.41-3.68, I2=40.3%), with those with Cushing's disease found to have an even higher mortality risk (SMR 3.27, 95% CI 2.33-4.21, I2=55.6%). And those with adrenal Cushing's syndrome also saw an elevated death risk, although not as high as patients with the disease (SMR 1.62, 95% CI 0.08-3.16, I2=0.0%). The most common causes of mortality among these patients included cardiac conditions (25%), infection (14%), and cerebrovascular disease (9%). "The causes of death highlight the need for aggressive management of cardiovascular risk, prevention of thromboembolism, and good infection control, and emphasize the need to achieve disease remission, normalizing cortisol levels," said lead study author Padiporn Limumpornpetch, MD, of the University of Leeds in England, in a statement. From https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/endo/91808
  9. Adrenal insufficiency increases the risk for severe outcomes, including death, 23-fold for children who contract COVID-19, according to a data analysis presented at the ENDO annual meeting. “Adrenal insufficiency in pediatrics does increase risk of complications with COVID-19 infections,” Manish Gope Raisingani, MD, assistant professor in the department of pediatrics in the division of pediatric endocrinology at Arkansas Children's Hospital, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, told Healio. “The relative risk of complications is over 20 for sepsis, intubation and mortality, which is very significant.” Source: Adobe Stock Using the TriNetX tool and information on COVID-19 from 54 health care organizations, Raisingani and colleagues analyzed data from children (aged 0-18 years) with COVID-19; 846 had adrenal insufficiency and 252,211 did not. The mortality rate among children with adrenal insufficiency was 2.25% compared with 0.097% for those without, for a relative risk for death of 23.2 (P < .0001) for children with adrenal insufficiency and COVID-19. RRs for these children were 21.68 for endotracheal intubation and 25.45 for sepsis. “Children with adrenal insufficiency should be very careful during the pandemic,” Raisingani said. “They should take their steroid medication properly. They should also be appropriately trained on stress steroids for infection, other significant events.” From https://www.healio.com/news/endocrinology/20210321/severe-covid19-risks-greatly-increased-for-children-with-adrenal-insufficiency
  10. There is an absence of online information regarding the risks of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) testing for patients with a history of sinus and/or pituitary surgery, according to a research letter published online March 4 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. Noting that blind NPS testing poses a risk to patients with sinus pathology, Taylor Fish, from the University of Texas Health San Antonio, and colleagues examined online preoperative and postoperative patient information regarding the potential risks of SARS-CoV-2 NPS testing for individuals with a history of sinus or skull-base surgery. The top 100 sites for searches on “sinus surgery instructions” and “pituitary surgery instructions” were identified. The authors also noted the presence of any of the following terms on the webpages: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, coronavirus, or nasopharyngeal swab. Searches for sinus surgery instructions and pituitary surgery instructions returned 6,600,000 and 1,200,000 results, respectively. The researchers identified 79 websites that displayed the date of the last update, and nine of these had been updated since the declaration of COVID-19 as an international health emergency on Jan. 30, 2020. None of the top 200 websites (53 academic, 93 private practice, and 54 other sites) contained warnings for high-risk patients or information pertaining to SARS-CoV-2 NPS testing. “Otolaryngologists should inform at-risk patients about blind NPS testing and alternative diagnostic methods,” the authors write. “Health care professionals ordering or administering testing must prescreen patients with a history of sinus and skull-base surgery prior to NPS testing and use alternative testing.” One author disclosed financial ties to the medical device industry. Abstract/Full Text From https://www.physiciansweekly.com/nasal-swab-test-for-covid-19-risky-for-sinus-surgery-patients/
  11. Rosario Pivonello,a,b Rosario Ferrigno,a Andrea M Isidori,c Beverly M K Biller,d Ashley B Grossman,e,f and Annamaria Colaoa,b Over the past few months, COVID-19, the pandemic disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, has been associated with a high rate of infection and lethality, especially in patients with comorbidities such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and immunodeficiency syndromes.1 These cardiometabolic and immune impairments are common comorbidities of Cushing's syndrome, a condition characterised by excessive exposure to endogenous glucocorticoids. In patients with Cushing's syndrome, the increased cardiovascular risk factors, amplified by the increased thromboembolic risk, and the increased susceptibility to severe infections, are the two leading causes of death.2 In healthy individuals in the early phase of infection, at the physiological level, glucocorticoids exert immunoenhancing effects, priming danger sensor and cytokine receptor expression, thereby sensitising the immune system to external agents.3 However, over time and with sustained high concentrations, the principal effects of glucocorticoids are to produce profound immunosuppression, with depression of innate and adaptive immune responses. Therefore, chronic excessive glucocorticoids might hamper the initial response to external agents and the consequent activation of adaptive responses. Subsequently, a decrease in the number of B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes, as well as a reduction in T-helper cell activation might favour opportunistic and intracellular infection. As a result, an increased risk of infection is seen, with an estimated prevalence of 21–51% in patients with Cushing's syndrome.4 Therefore, despite the absence of data on the effects of COVID-19 in patients with Cushing's syndrome, one can make observations related to the compromised immune state in patients with Cushing's syndrome and provide expert advice for patients with a current or past history of Cushing's syndrome. Fever is one of the hallmarks of severe infections and is present in up to around 90% of patients with COVID-19, in addition to cough and dyspnoea.1 However, in active Cushing's syndrome, the low-grade chronic inflammation and the poor immune response might limit febrile response in the early phase of infection.2 Conversely, different symptoms might be enhanced in patients with Cushing's syndrome; for instance, dyspnoea might occur because of a combination of cardiac insufficiency or weakness of respiratory muscles.2 Therefore, during active Cushing's syndrome, physicians should seek different signs and symptoms when suspecting COVID-19, such as cough, together with dysgeusia, anosmia, and diarrhoea, and should be suspicious of any change in health status of their patients with Cushing's syndrome, rather than relying on fever and dyspnoea as typical features. The clinical course of COVID-19 might also be difficult to predict in patients with active Cushing's syndrome. Generally, patients with COVID-19 and a history of obesity, hypertension, or diabetes have a more severe course, leading to increased morbidity and mortality.1 Because these conditions are observed in most patients with active Cushing's syndrome,2 these patients might be at an increased risk of severe course, with progression to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), when developing COVID-19. However, a key element in the development of ARDS during COVID-19 is the exaggerated cellular response induced by the cytokine increase, leading to massive alveolar–capillary wall damage and a decline in gas exchange.5 Because patients with Cushing's syndrome might not mount a normal cytokine response,4 these patients might parodoxically be less prone to develop severe ARDS with COVID-19. Moreover, Cushing's syndrome and severe COVID-19 are associated with hypercoagulability, such that patients with active Cushing's syndrome might present an increased risk of thromboembolism with COVID-19. Consequently, because low molecular weight heparin seems to be associated with lower mortality and disease severity in patients with COVID-19,6 and because anticoagulation is also recommended in specific conditions in patients with active Cushing's syndrome,7 this treatment is strongly advised in hospitalised patients with Cushing's syndrome who have COVID-19. Furthermore, patients with active Cushing's syndrome are at increased risk of prolonged duration of viral infections, as well as opportunistic infections, particularly atypical bacterial and invasive fungal infections, leading to sepsis and an increased mortality risk,2 and COVID-19 patients are also at increased risk of secondary bacterial or fungal infections during hospitalisation.1 Therefore, in cases of COVID-19 during active Cushing's syndrome, prolonged antiviral treatment and empirical prophylaxis with broad-spectrum antibiotics1, 4 should be considered, especially for hospitalised patients (panel ). Panel Risk factors and clinical suggestions for patients with Cushing's syndrome who have COVID-19 Reduction of febrile response and enhancement of dyspnoea Rely on different symptoms and signs suggestive of COVID-19, such as cough, dysgeusia, anosmia, and diarrhoea. Prolonged duration of viral infections and susceptibility to superimposed bacterial and fungal infections Consider prolonged antiviral and broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment. Impairment of glucose metabolism (negative prognostic factor) Optimise glycaemic control and select cortisol-lowering drugs that improve glucose metabolism. Hypertension (negative prognostic factor) Optimise blood pressure control and select cortisol-lowering drugs that improve blood pressure. Thrombosis diathesis (negative prognostic factor) Start antithrombotic prophylaxis, preferably with low-molecular-weight heparin treatment. Surgery represents the first-line treatment for all causes of Cushing's syndrome,8, 9 but during the pandemic a delay might be appropriate to reduce the hospital-associated risk of COVID-19, any post-surgical immunodepression, and thromboembolic risks.10 Because immunosuppression and thromboembolic diathesis are common Cushing's syndrome features,2, 4 during the COVID-19 pandemic, cortisol-lowering medical therapy, including the oral drugs ketoconazole, metyrapone, and the novel osilodrostat, which are usually effective within hours or days, or the parenteral drug etomidate when immediate cortisol control is required, should be temporarily used.9 Nevertheless, an expeditious definitive diagnosis and proper surgical resolution of hypercortisolism should be ensured in patients with malignant forms of Cushing's syndrome, not only to avoid disease progression risk but also for rapidly ameliorating hypercoagulability and immunospuppression;9 however, if diagnostic procedures cannot be easily secured or surgery cannot be done for limitations of hospital resources due to the pandemic, medical therapy should be preferred. Concomitantly, the optimisation of medical treatment for pre-existing comorbidities as well as the choice of cortisol-lowering drugs with potentially positive effects on obesity, hypertension, or diabates are crucial to improve the eventual clinical course of COVID-19. Once patients with Cushing's syndrome are in remission, the risk of infection is substantially decreased, but the comorbidities related to excess glucocorticoids might persist, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, together with thromboembolic diathesis.2 Because these are features associated with an increased death risk in patients with COVID-19,1 patients with Cushing's syndrome in remission should be considered a high-risk population and consequently adopt adequate self-protection strategies to minimise contagion risk. In conclusion, COVID-19 might have specific clinical presentation, clinical course, and clinical complications in patients who also have Cushing's syndrome during the active hypercortisolaemic phase, and therefore careful monitoring and specific consideration should be given to this special, susceptible population. Moreover, the use of medical therapy as a bridge treatment while waiting for the pandemic to abate should be considered. Go to: Acknowledgments RP reports grants and personal fees from Novartis, Strongbridge, HRA Pharma, Ipsen, Shire, and Pfizer; grants from Corcept Therapeutics and IBSA Farmaceutici; and personal fees from Ferring and Italfarmaco. AMI reports non-financial support from Takeda and Ipsen; grants and non-financial support from Shire, Pfizer, and Corcept Therapeutics. BMKB reports grants from Novartis, Strongbridge, and Millendo; and personal fees from Novartis and Strongbridge. AC reports grants and personal fees from Novartis, Ipsen, Shire, and Pfizer; personal fees from Italfarmaco; and grants from Lilly, Merck, and Novo Nordisk. All other authors declare no competing interests. Go to: References 1. Kakodkar P, Kaka N, Baig MN. A comprehensive literature review on the clinical presentation, and management of the pandemic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Cureus. 2020;12 [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar] 2. Pivonello R, Isidori AM, De Martino MC, Newell-Price J, Biller BMK, Colao A. Complications of Cushing's syndrome: state of the art. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2016;4:611–629. [PubMed] [Google Scholar] 3. Cain DW, Cidlowski JA. Immune regulation by glucocorticoids. Nat Rev Immunol. 2017;17:233–247. [PubMed] [Google Scholar] 4. Hasenmajer V, Sbardella E, Sciarra F, Minnetti M, Isidori AM, Venneri MA. The immune system in Cushing's syndrome. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2020 doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2020.04.004. published online May 6, 2020. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar] 5. Ye Q, Wang B, Mao J. The pathogenesis and treatment of the ‘Cytokine Storm’ in COVID-19. J Infect. 2020;80:607–613. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar] 6. Tang N, Bai H, Chen X, Gong J, Li D, Sun Z. Anticoagulant treatment is associated with decreased mortality in severe coronavirus disease 2019 patients with coagulopathy. J Thromb Haemost. 2020;18:1094–1099. [PubMed] [Google Scholar] 7. Isidori AM, Minnetti M, Sbardella E, Graziadio C, Grossman AB. Mechanisms in endocrinology: the spectrum of haemostatic abnormalities in glucocorticoid excess and defect. Eur J Endocrinol. 2015;173:R101–R113. [PubMed] [Google Scholar] 8. Nieman LK, Biller BM, Findling JW. Treatment of Cushing's syndrome: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015;100:2807–2831. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar] 9. Pivonello R, De Leo M, Cozzolino A, Colao A. The treatment of Cushing's disease. Endocr Rev. 2015;36:385–486. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar] 10. Newell-Price J, Nieman L, Reincke M, Tabarin A. Endocrinology in the time of COVID-19: management of Cushing's syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol. 2020 doi: 10.1530/EJE-20-0352. published online April 1. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar] From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7282791/
  12. About Who Should Attend: Individuals with Cushing’s disease and their caregivers. When: Thursday, March 4, 2021, 6 PM, Eastern Where: Virtual presentation via Zoom. Click the Zoom link for the online event or call one of the phone numbers below: 833-548-0276 (US Toll-free) 833-548-0282 (US Toll-free) 877-853-5257 (US Toll-free) 888-475-4499 (US Toll-free) Whether you log on via computer or telephone, you will be asked for the meeting ID and password. Meeting ID: 969 3392 7432 Passcode: 945590 Attendees will be muted until the end of the presentation, at which time we will take questions. There is no fee for this event. Contact Maggie Bobrowitz with any questions: Margaret.Bobrowitz@DignityHealth.org or (888) 726-9370.
  13. About Who Should Attend: Individuals with Cushing’s disease and their caregivers. When: Thursday, March 4, 2021, 6 PM, Eastern Where: Virtual presentation via Zoom. Click the Zoom link for the online event or call one of the phone numbers below: 833-548-0276 (US Toll-free) 833-548-0282 (US Toll-free) 877-853-5257 (US Toll-free) 888-475-4499 (US Toll-free) Whether you log on via computer or telephone, you will be asked for the meeting ID and password. Meeting ID: 969 3392 7432 Passcode: 945590 Attendees will be muted until the end of the presentation, at which time we will take questions. There is no fee for this event. Contact Maggie Bobrowitz with any questions: Margaret.Bobrowitz@DignityHealth.org or (888) 726-9370.
  14. A young healthcare worker who contracted COVID-19 shortly after being diagnosed with Cushing’s disease was detailed in a case report from Japan. While the woman was successfully treated for both conditions, Cushing’s may worsen a COVID-19 infection. Prompt treatment and multidisciplinary care is required for Cushing’s patients who get COVID-19, its researchers said. The report, “Successful management of a patient with active Cushing’s disease complicated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia,” was published in Endocrine Journal. Cushing’s disease is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland, which results in abnormally high levels of the stress hormone cortisol (hypercortisolism). Since COVID-19 is still a fairly new disease, and Cushing’s is rare, there is scant data on how COVID-19 tends to affect Cushing’s patients. In the report, researchers described the case of a 27-year-old Japanese female healthcare worker with active Cushing’s disease who contracted COVID-19. The patient had a six-year-long history of amenorrhea (missed periods) and dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in the body). She had also experienced weight gain, a rounding face, and acne. After transferring to a new workplace, the woman visited a new gynecologist, who checked her hormonal status. Abnormal findings prompted a visit to the endocrinology department. Clinical examination revealed features indicative of Cushing’s syndrome, such as a round face with acne, central obesity, and buffalo hump. Laboratory testing confirmed hypercortisolism, and MRI revealed a tumor in the patient’s pituitary gland. She was scheduled for surgery to remove the tumor, and treated with metyrapone, a medication that can decrease cortisol production in the body. Shortly thereafter, she had close contact with a patient she was helping to care for, who was infected with COVID-19 but not yet diagnosed. A few days later, the woman experienced a fever, nausea, and headache. These persisted for a few days, and then she started having difficulty breathing. Imaging of her lungs revealed a fluid buildup (pneumonia), and a test for SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — came back positive. A week after symptoms developed, the patient required supplemental oxygen. Her condition worsened 10 days later, and laboratory tests were indicative of increased inflammation. To control the patient’s Cushing’s disease, she was treated with increasing doses of metyrapone and similar medications to decrease cortisol production; she was also administered cortisol — this “block and replace” approach aims to maintain cortisol levels within the normal range. The patient experienced metyrapone side effects that included stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, swelling, increased acne, and hypokalemia (low potassium levels). She was given antiviral therapies (e.g., favipiravir) to help manage the COVID-19. Additional medications to prevent opportunistic fungal infections were also administered. From the next day onward, her symptoms eased, and the woman was eventually discharged from the hospital. A month after being discharged, she tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. Surgery for the pituitary tumor was then again possible. Appropriate safeguards were put in place to protect the medical team caring for her from infection, during and after the surgery. The patient didn’t have any noteworthy complications from the surgery, and her cortisol levels soon dropped to within normal limits. She was considered to be in remission. Although broad conclusions cannot be reliably drawn from a single case, the researchers suggested that the patient’s underlying Cushing’s disease may have made her more susceptible to severe pneumonia due to COVID-19. “Since hypercortisolism due to active Cushing’s disease may enhance the severity of COVID-19 infection, it is necessary to provide appropriate, multidisciplinary and prompt treatment,” the researchers wrote. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2021/01/15/covid-19-may-be-severe-cushings-patients-case-report-suggests/?cn-reloaded=1
  15. Dr. Theodore Friedman will host a webinar on COVID-19 Vaccines for Endocrine Patients Dr. Friedman will discuss topics including: How do the vaccines work? What did the New England Journal of Medicine article say about the Pfizer vaccine? What are the different vaccine options? What are the side effects? Who should and shouldn’t get a vaccine? What about Dr. Friedman’s vaccine studies? Sunday • December 27 • 6 PM PST Click here on start your meeting or https://axisconciergemeetings.webex.com/axisconciergemeetings/j.php?MTID=m5085619c25d8a2417d9316b56fe7830b OR Join by phone: (855) 797-9485 Meeting Number (Access Code): 177 542 2496 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: pcos For more information, email us at mail@goodhormonehealth.com
  16. Dr. Theodore Friedman will host a webinar on COVID-19 Vaccines for Endocrine Patients Dr. Friedman will discuss topics including: How do the vaccines work? What did the New England Journal of Medicine article say about the Pfizer vaccine? What are the different vaccine options? What are the side effects? Who should and shouldn’t get a vaccine? What about Dr. Friedman’s vaccine studies? Sunday • December 27 • 6 PM PST Click here on start your meeting or https://axisconciergemeetings.webex.com/axisconciergemeetings/j.php?MTID=m5085619c25d8a2417d9316b56fe7830b OR Join by phone: (855) 797-9485 Meeting Number (Access Code): 177 542 2496 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: pcos For more information, email us at mail@goodhormonehealth.com
  17. Update November 22, 2020 I have not updated my patients on the COVID-19 pandemic since March. Since the last update and as of today’s date, 12.2 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and 256,000 Americans have died. Several of Dr. Friedman’s patients have been infected with COVID-19. Many businesses have closed and there have been major economic loses. The response to the pandemic has unfortunately been politicized and I say unfortunately because the virus doesn’t distinguish based on victim’s political party. Please see Dr. Friedman’s Letter in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal https://jewishjournal.com/letters_to_the_editor/316110/letters-lockdown-vs-no-lockdown/. Dr. Friedman completely supports efforts to limit the spread of the virus, including wearing masks, social distancing, handwashing and staying at home. Listening to government officials including the CDC is crucial. Dr. Friedman agrees with data showing gatherings are much safer outside and encourages his patients to err on the side of safety and caution. Dr. Friedman is spearheading efforts at Charles R. Drew University to be a site for a vaccine study and after some delays, it looks like his University will be a site for the Sanofi vaccine in December 2020. Dr. Friedman is very excited about the promising results from the Moderna and Pfizer trials and thinks vaccines along with mask-wearing and social distancing will curtail the pandemic, hopefully in the latter half of 2021. He does think that COVID-19 will be with us for a long time. Dr. Friedman anticipates that changes due to COVID-19, including telemedicine and working from home will remain with us after the pandemic subsides. As mentioned in the March update, patients with endocrine problems such as Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s Disease, hypopituitarism and diabetes have slightly impaired immune systems, making them potentially susceptible for a more severe infection by COVID-19. He would recommend those patients to be especially vigilant about mask-wearing/social distancing and to get a vaccine when it comes out. He advices his patients the following: Wear masks, social distancing, handwashing and staying at home as much as possible Use delivery services for groceries, food and medications. Wash hands frequently for 20 seconds and/or use hand sanitizer several times a day Avoid air travel, public gatherings and other public places as guided by local officials Quarantine if sick or exposed. Labcorp and Quest both introduced testing for COVID-19 using nasal swabs. Several other laboratories are also performing tests. Dr. Friedman recommends PCR testing and not rapid antigen testing. For those with symptoms of Coronavirus, he recommends seeing your primary care doctor for testing. Dr. Friedman is unable to provide requisitions or swabs for this testing that should be done by their primary doctor. While Dr. Friedman was initially enthusiastic about antibody testing, he is concerned about the quality of the tests and no longer recommends it. Labcorp and Quest are both still open and Quest has a new Peace of Mind program for lab services not related to COVID-19 and for patients who are 60 years of age or older, or have other conditions that put them at greater risk for COVID-19, in which patients can come to their nearby Quest location during the first hour of each day for VIP care. Dr. Friedman encourages people to get their hormone testing done and make their followup appointments. Many patients have requested extra supply of their medications. However, most insurances do not allow this and carefully monitor medication use. Dr. Friedman recommends patients to use a mail-order pharmacy and sign up for auto-refills so that they get a consistent supply of their medications. Except for patients sick with COVID-19, patients should not up-dose hydrocortisone Dr. Friedman has restarting in person visits on the last Tuesday of each month and continues to see patients via telemedicine on the other Tuesday nights. Please visit goodhormonehealth.com for more information or to schedule an appointment. Dr. Friedman’s staff will still be doing in person growth hormone stimulation tests on Tuesday night in an isolated and sanitized clinic setting. Dr. Friedman especially encourages patients to eat healthy and exercise (especially being outside) including walking, hiking, biking, aerobic videos yoga or pilates at home, during this stressful period. Dr. Friedman encourages patients to get their flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine when available. Everyone should pray that the pandemic ends soon. Dr. Friedman wishes everyone to stay healthy
  18. Adults with adrenal insufficiency who are adequately treated and trained display the same incidence of COVID-19-suggestive symptoms and disease severity as controls, according to a presenter. “Adrenal insufficiency is supposed to be associated with an increased risk for infections and complications,” Giulia Carosi, a doctoral student in the department of experimental medicine at Sapienza University of Rome, said during a presentation at the virtual European Congress of Endocrinology Annual Meeting. “Our aim was to evaluate the incidence of COVID symptoms and related complications in this group.” In a retrospective, case-control study, Carosi and colleagues evaluated the incidence of COVID-19 symptoms and complications among 279 adults with primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency (mean age, 57 years; 49.8% women) and 112 adults with benign pituitary nonfunctioning lesions without hormonal alterations, who served as controls (mean age, 58 years; 52.7% women). All participants lived in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. Participants completed a standardized questionnaire by phone on COVID-19-suggestive symptoms, such as fever, cough, myalgia, fatigue, dyspnea, gastrointestinal symptoms, conjunctivitis, loss of smell, loss of taste, upper respiratory tract symptoms, thoracic pain, headaches and ear pain. Patients with primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency were previously trained to modify their glucocorticoid replacement therapy when appropriate. From February through April, the prevalence of participants reporting at least one symptom of viral infection was similar between the adrenal insufficiency group and controls (24% vs. 22.3%; P = .788). Researchers observed “highly suggestive” symptoms among 12.5% of participants in both groups. No participant required hospitalization and no adrenal crisis was reported. Replacement therapy was correctly increased for about 30% of symptomatic participants with adrenal insufficiency. Carosi noted that few nasopharyngeal swabs were performed (n = 12), limiting conclusions on the exact infection rate (positive result in 0.7% among participants with adrenal insufficiency and 0% of controls; P = .515). “We can conclude that hypoadrenal patients who have regular follow-up and trained about risks for infection and sick day rules seem to present the same incidence of COVID-19 symptoms and the same disease severity as controls,” Carosi said. As Healio previously reported, there is no evidence that COVID-19 has a more severe course among individuals with primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency; however, those with adrenal insufficiency are at increased risk for respiratory and viral infections, and patients experiencing major inflammation and fever are at risk for life-threatening adrenal crisis. In a position statement issued by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists in March, researchers wrote that people with adrenal insufficiency or uncontrolled Cushing’s syndrome should continue to take their medications as prescribed and ensure they have appropriate supplies for oral and injectable steroids at home, with a 90-day preparation recommended. In the event of acute illness, those with adrenal insufficiency are instructed to increase their hydrocortisone dose per instructions and call their health care provider for more details. Standard “sick day” rules for increasing oral glucocorticoids or injectables would also apply, according to the statement. From https://www.healio.com/news/endocrinology/20200910/no-increased-covid19-risk-with-adequately-treated-adrenal-insufficiency
  19. Abstract Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the viral strain that has caused the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, has presented healthcare systems around the world with an unprecedented challenge. In locations with significant rates of viral transmission, social distancing measures and enforced ‘lockdowns’ are the new ‘norm’ as governments try to prevent healthcare services from being overwhelmed. However, with these measures have come important challenges for the delivery of existing services for other diseases and conditions. The clinical care of patients with pituitary disorders typically involves a multidisciplinary team, working in concert to deliver timely, often complex, disease investigation and management, including pituitary surgery. COVID-19 has brought about major disruption to such services, limiting access to care and opportunities for testing (both laboratory and radiological), and dramatically reducing the ability to safely undertake transsphenoidal surgery. In the absence of clinical trials to guide management of patients with pituitary disease during the COVID-19 pandemic, herein the Professional Education Committee of the Pituitary Society proposes guidance for continued safe management and care of this population. Introduction In many centers worldwide, the evaluation and treatment of pituitary disorders has already been substantially impacted by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the viral strain that has caused the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. With reduced access to routine clinical services, patients with suspected or confirmed pituitary disease face the prospect of delays in diagnosis and implementation of effective treatment plans. Furthermore, patients undergoing surgery may be at increased risk from COVID-19, whilst the risk of infection to healthcare providers during pituitary surgery is of particular concern. Herein, we discuss several clinical scenarios where clinical care can be adjusted temporarily without compromising patient outcomes. For this expert guidance, The Pituitary Society Professional Education Committee, which includes neuroendocrinologists and neurosurgeons from four continents, held an online video conference call with subsequent discussions conducted through email communications. The suggestions are not evidence-based due to the novelty and timing of the pandemic; furthermore, re-evaluation every few months in light of emerging data, is recommended. The approach will also likely vary from country to country depending on the risk of viral infection, local rules for “lockdown”, and the capabilities of individual health care systems. Pituitary surgery challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic The significant challenges to pituitary surgery presented by COVID-19 can be considered in terms of the phase of the pandemic, the patient, the surgeon, and the healthcare institution (Table 1). Table 1 Pituitary surgery challenges and recommendations during COVID-19 pandemic Full size table The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes several phases of a pandemic wave [1]. When the pandemic is in progress (WHO pandemic phase descriptions; Phase 6) [2] there is a high prevalence of active cases. In the immediate post-peak period, the pandemic activity appears to wane, but active cases remain, and additional waves may follow. Previous pandemics have had many such waves, each separated by several months (www.cdc.gov). The corollary is that there will remain a significant possibility of patients and surgeons contracting COVID-19 until a vaccine is developed or herd immunity is achieved by other means. The patient requiring pituitary surgery may be especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to age and/or comorbidities. This is particularly true of patients with functioning pituitary adenomas such as those with Cushing’s disease (CD), where cortisol excess results in immunosuppression, hypercoagulability, diabetes mellitus and hypertension, and acromegaly which is also frequently complicated by diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Moreover, the risk for patients undergoing surgery that develop COVID-19 in the perioperative period appears to be very high. In a retrospective analysis of 34 patients who underwent elective—non pituitary—surgeries during the incubation period of COVID-19, 15 (44.1%) patients required admission to the intensive care unit, and 7 (20.5%) died [3]. Although this study included cases of variable technical difficulty, complexity and risk—from excision of breast lump to total hip replacement—we would suggest that patients undergoing pituitary surgery that develop COVID-19 are likely to be at similar or greater risk. These risks must be balanced carefully against the natural history of pituitary disease and, in particular, whether undue delay may result in irreversible morbidity such as visual loss in patients with pituitary apoplexy. The surgeon remains in direct contact with the patient throughout their operation and is therefore at risk of contracting COVID-19 if the patient has an active infection. Iorio-Morin et al. [4] suggest that surgeons performing transsphenoidal pituitary surgery (TSS) may be at the greatest risk, because such surgery is performed under general anesthesia, requiring intubation and extubation, exposes the colonized nasal mucosa, and usually involves sphenoid drilling, which can result in aerosolization of contaminated tissues. The healthcare institution will invariably divert resources from elective services to support the care of patients with COVID-19, with a knock-on effect on the capacity to manage patients with pituitary disease (Table 1). Bernstein et al. [5] suggest that surgery is particularly affected in such reorganization, because of both the need for redeployment of anesthesiologists able to manage patient airways, and availability of protective physical resources such as masks, gowns, and gloves (personal protective equipment; PPE). Furthermore, in areas with high number of infections, several operating rooms (OR)s were converted into intensive care units (ICU) to treat patients with COVID-19, thus limiting patients’ access to elective surgery even more. Recommendations for pituitary surgery When the viral risk is decreasing in a specific geographic area, we would advocate a stepwise, but flexible normalization of activity, addressing each of the aforementioned factors. Burke et al. [6] proposed a staged volume limiting approach to scheduling surgical cases depending on the number of community cases and inpatients with COVID-19, and staffing shortages. In extreme cases, where significant assistance is required from outside institutions, only emergent cases can proceed. Until further data become available, all patients undergoing pituitary surgery should undergo screening for COVID-19, until a vaccine is developed or herd immunity is achieved by other means. At the least, we recommend screening patients for cough, fever, or other recognized symptoms of infection with SARS-CoV-2, and taking swab samples for testing if there is any clinical suspicion. Depending on the level of COVID-19 activity in the community, and available resources, a more exhaustive strategy may be appropriate, including isolation of patients for up to 2 weeks before surgery, paired swabs and/or serological tests for all patients irrespective of symptoms, and routine chest X-ray or chest computed tomography (CT), depending on local guidance. In patients with COVID-19 in whom surgery is indicated, in general we recommend delaying surgery if possible, ideally until patients no longer have symptoms and have a negative swab test result. The nature of the patient’s pituitary disease is an important consideration, and we propose stratifying cases as emergent, urgent, or elective. We recommend that patients continue to be operated on in an emergent fashion if they present with pituitary apoplexy, acute severe visual loss, or other significant mass effect, or if there is concern regarding malignant pathology. Selected patients with slowly progressive visual loss, functioning tumors with aggressive clinical features, and those with an unclear diagnosis, may also benefit from urgent (but not emergent) surgery, with decisions made on a case-by-case basis. Patients with incidental and asymptomatic tumors, known nonfunctioning adenomas [7] or functioning tumors, which are well controlled with medical therapy, can be scheduled as elective cases. In most cases, TSS remains the safest, most effective, and most efficient approach to pituitary tumors. In a series of 9 consecutive patients without COVID-19 undergoing pituitary and skull base surgery during the pandemic, Kolias et al. [8] reported that none of the patients or staff contracted COVID-19 following adoption of a standardized risk-mitigation strategy. In the rare instances where a patient with COVID-19 requires emergent surgery that cannot be deferred, alternative transcranial approaches may be considered (avoiding nasal mucosa). To replace high-speed drilling, the use of non-powered tools such as rongeurs and chisels has been recommended. If this is not possible large suction tubes can be used to aspirate as much particulate matter as possible [9]. In such cases, the availability and use of PPE, and in particular filtering facepiece (FFP3) respirators, is mandated. Depending on the level of COVID-19 activity in the community, and the availability and effectiveness of testing, PPE may be appropriate in all cases. At an institutional level, there must remain flexibility in anticipation of further waves of COVID-19. This necessitates a reduction in capacity, particularly in available ICU beds, that must be recognized when scheduling challenging surgical cases. In the long term, resumption of full elective workloads depends on wider national and international factors, including widespread testing, and widespread immunity through vaccination or other means. Pituitary diseases diagnosis and management Acromegaly Acromegaly, a condition that arises from growth hormone (GH) excess, generally occurs as a result of autonomous GH secretion from a somatotroph pituitary adenoma [10, 11], is associated with substantial morbidity and excess mortality, which can be mitigated by prompt and adequate treatment [12]. Diagnosis is often delayed because of the low prevalence of the disease, the frequently non-specific nature of presenting symptoms, and the typically subtle progression of clinical features [10, 11]. During the COVID-19 pandemic many outpatient clinics have closed or limited work hours. Patients are often reluctant to seek care out of fear of possible exposure to the coronavirus. Therefore, even longer diagnostic delays are anticipated. In addition, patients who present with vision loss and larger tumors encroaching upon the optic apparatus are at risk for experiencing persistent visual compromise unless the optic chiasm and nerves are promptly decompressed. To improve patient access to care and minimize potentially deleterious delays in diagnosis and treatment, clinicians may conduct virtual visits (VV) using secure, internet-based electronic medical record platforms. A detailed history can be obtained and a limited physical examination is possible, including inspection of the face, skin and extremities. Diagnosis Establishing the diagnosis of acromegaly requires testing of serum insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) levels [11] (Box 1). Access to accurate IGF-I assays is critical in light of the substantial analytical and post-analytical problems that have plagued several IGF-I immunoassays. While the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is considered the diagnostic “gold standard”, this test is not essential in many patients, including those with a clear-cut clinical picture and an unequivocally elevated serum IGF-I level. Deferring the lengthy (2-h) OGTT may minimize the risk of potential exposure to infectious agents. Given the over-representation of macroadenomas in patients with acromegaly, pituitary imaging is indicated, preferably by a pituitary-specific magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol, although CT may be performed to rule out a large tumor if MRI is not feasible. Obtaining imaging at satellite sites detached from major hospitals may also decrease the risk of infection exposure. Management Transsphenoidal pituitary surgery remains the treatment of choice for most patients with acromegaly [10, 11], and patients with visual compromise as a result of a pituitary adenoma compressing the optic apparatus should still undergo pituitary surgery promptly. Other patients could be treated medically until the pandemic subsides. Medical treatment options are somatostatin receptor ligands (SRLs), octreotide long-acting release (LAR), lanreotide depot and pasireotide LAR, pegvisomant and cabergoline (used off-label) [13]. Medical therapies can be effective in providing symptomatic relief, control GH excess or action, and potentially reduce tumor size (except pegvisomant, which does not have direct antiproliferative effects). Preoperative medical therapy has been reported to improve surgical outcomes in some, but not all studies. Pasireotide, which potentially can induce QTc prolongation, should be used with caution in patients who are taking, either as prophylaxis or treatment, medications for COVID-19 (azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine), which can also have an effect on QTc interval. Furthermore, as hyperglycemia is very frequent in patients treated with pasireotide and needs close monitoring at start of the treatment, this treatment should be reserved for truly resistant cases, with large tumors and who cannot have surgery yet. Notably, lanreotide depot, cabergoline or pegvisomant can be administered by the patient or a family member and therefore an in-person visit to a clinic is not required. If SRLs that require health care professional administration are required, raising the dose may allow the interval between injections to be extended beyond 4 weeks while maintaining disease control. Virtual visits can be implemented to monitor the patient’s course and response to medical therapy during the pandemic. Careful management of comorbidities associated with acromegaly remains an essential part of patient care [14, 15]. Prolactinomas Hyperprolactinemia may be physiological in origin or arise because of an underlying pathophysiologic cause, medication use or laboratory artifact. Therefore, an initial evaluation for hyperprolactinemia should include a comprehensive medication history, a thorough evaluation for secondary causes, including primary hypothyroidism, and a careful assessment for clinical features of hyperprolactinemia, including hypogonadism and galactorrhea. Unless a secondary cause of hyperprolactinemia can be established definitively, further investigation is indicated to evaluate the etiology of hyperprolactinemia. Diagnosis The diagnosis of a lactotroph adenoma can be inferred in most patients based on the presence of a pituitary adenoma and an elevated prolactin level, which is typically proportionate in magnitude to adenoma size. Pituitary imaging (MRI or CT) is therefore a key step in the investigation of hyperprolactinemia. Evaluation for hypopituitarism is also necessary. Management Although observation and routine follow-up with serial prolactin levels and imaging is acceptable for patients who are asymptomatic and who have a microadenoma, most patients diagnosed with a prolactinoma will require treatment. Dopamine-agonists (DA) can normalize prolactin levels and lead to reduction in size of the lactotroph adenoma [16]. In patients who have a microadenoma and who are not seeking fertility, hormone-replacement therapy may also be appropriate if serum prolactin is routinely followed and imaging performed as necessary. Medical therapy can be managed effectively and efficiently via VVs coupled with laboratory/imaging studies as needed. However, in all patients in whom a DA will be initiated, it is critical that a comprehensive psychiatric history is obtained prior to commencing treatment. Patients may not readily volunteer their psychiatric history and may not appreciate the relevance of such information. For example, until specifically questioned about their psychiatric history, the patient described in the illustrative case (Box 2) did not report a history of severe depression, suicide attempt and prolonged psychiatric hospitalization 8 months prior to presentation with hyperprolactinemia. At the time of the visit, he was not taking any psychiatric medications and was not under the care of a mental health team. Given this patient’s significant psychiatric history, lack of ongoing psychiatric care, and the well-recognized adverse effects of DA therapy, including increased impulsivity, depression and psychosis [17], a DA was not initiated. Counseling on potential DA side-effects is crucial, as they may also present in individuals with no prior psychiatric history [17]. Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic when there is reduced access to routine medical and mental health care, patients who develop symptoms of severe depression may not have ready access to mental health services, or may not seek care. Therefore, it is particularly important to make patients aware of these potential side effects and the critical importance of reporting them. In the small number of patients for whom medical therapy is not possible and where surveillance is not appropriate (e.g., macroprolactinoma with visual loss) the risks and benefits of surgical intervention will need to be carefully weighed. Cushing’s disease Left untreated, CD has significant morbidity and mortality, and delays in diagnosis (from a few months to even years) are common. Clinical presentation is also very variable with some patients having subtle symptoms while others present with more striking/classical features. Severe hypercortisolemia induces immunosuppression, which may place patients with untreated CD at particular risk from COVID-19. New patients referred for endocrinology evaluation with clinical suspicion of Cushing’s Diagnosis Screening for, and confirmation of Cushing’s syndrome (CS) and, furthermore, localization for CD is laborious and requires serial visits and testing procedures [18, 19]. If initial laboratory abnormalities are consistent with hypercortisolemia, a VV should allow for an estimate of the severity of clinical presentation and facilitate planning for further testing and treatment. Careful questioning for potential causes of exogenous CS (including, but not limited to, history of high-dose oral corticosteroids, intraarticular injections or topical preparations) is an important first step. Subsequently, establishing the likelihood and pretest probability of CS is more important than ever now, when testing may be delayed. While presentation varies significantly between patients, some features, although not all highly sensitive, are more specific, e.g. easy bruising, facial plethora, large wide > 1 cm violaceous striae, proximal weakness and hypokalemia. Diagnosis of CS is often challenging even under normal circumstances, however, a diagnosis by VV is more nuanced and difficult. Conversely, if a patient has a high likelihood of CS, we recommend limited laboratory evaluation (urinary free cortisol (UFC), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), liver panel, basic metabolic panel), preferably at a smaller local laboratory rather than a Pituitary Center, to reduce viral risk exposure. Salivary cortisol samples could represent a hazard for laboratory staff and they are prohibited in some countries [18, 19]. In the US, laboratories have continued to process salivary cortisol samples and salivary cortisol has higher sensitivity compared with UFC and has the convenience of mailing multiple specimens at a time, without travel [18, 19]. Though usually we strongly recommend sequential laboratory testing under normal circumstances, limiting trips to a laboratory is preferred during COVID-19. If preliminary assessment confirms ACTH-dependent CS [18, 19] and no visual symptoms are reported, imaging may be delayed. However, in the presence of any visual symptoms, and recognizing the challenges of undertaking a formal visual field assessment, proceeding directly with MRI or CT (shorter exam time and easier machine access) imaging, will allow confirmation or exclusion of a large pituitary adenoma compressing the optic chiasm. If the latter is confirmed, the patient will need to be evaluated by a neurosurgeon. In contrast, a small pituitary adenoma may not be visible on CT, but in such cases MRI may be deferred for a few months until COVID-19 restrictions limiting access to care are lifted. Another VV will help to decide, in conjunction with patient’s preference, the best next step, which in cases of more severe clinical Cushing’s, and in the absence of a large pituitary adenoma, would be medical therapy. The magnitude of 24 h-UFC elevation could also represent a criterion for primary therapy, since higher values have been associated with increased risk of infection. In parallel, it is also important to address comorbidities including diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. In light of the increased risk of venous thromboembolism, in discussion with primary care providers, plans for regular mobilization/exercise as permitted (including at home when orders to stay in are in place) and/or prophylactic low weight molecular heparin should be considered. Management First line medical therapy options vary, depending on country availability, regulatory approval and patient comorbidities. Ideally, an oral medication, which is easier to administer is preferred; options include ketoconazole, osilodrostat or metyrapone [20, 21]. Cabergoline therapy, which has lesser efficacy [20, 21] compared with adrenal steroidogenesis inhibitors, can be also attempted in very mild cases. The initial laboratory profile should be reviewed to exclude significant abnormalities of renal and/or liver function prior to commencing treatment. Starting doses of all medications should be the lowest possible to avoid adrenal insufficiency (AI) and up titration should be slow, with VVs weekly if possible. All patients with CS on any type of medical therapy should have prescribed glucocorticoids (GC) both in oral and injectable forms available at home and information regarding AI should be provided during a VV when starting therapy for CS. Down titration of other medications for diabetes and hypertension may also be needed over time. Pasireotide (both subcutaneous and LAR preparations) would be a second line option, reflecting higher risk of significant hyperglycemia that would require treatment [22]. If the clinical features of CS are mild and longstanding, with no acute deterioration, another possibility is to aggressively treat the associated comorbidities for a few months; depending on local circumstances, this may actually be less risky for the patient by avoiding the risk of AI/crisis and the need for an emergency department (ED) visit and/or admission. For patients with Cushing’s disease with endocrinology chronic care Patients in remission after surgery with adrenal insufficiency on glucocorticoid replacement These patients are likely to remain at slightly higher risk of COVID-19 infection due to immunosuppression from previous hypercortisolemia. Furthermore, GC doses should be adjusted to prevent adrenal crisis and visits to an ED. Lower GC daily doses (10–15 mg hydrocortisone/day) are now frequently used for replacement and virtual and/or phone visits are encouraged to evaluate an appropriate regimen and sufficient supplies of medication and injectable GC (at home) should be prescribed. Patients with potential symptoms of under replacement may require an increase in daily dose, while balancing any risk of GC over replacement and possible consequent immunosuppression. Patients in non-remission treated with medical therapy (dependent on country availability) Doses may need to be adjusted to reduce the risk of AI/crisis and reduce the need for serial laboratory work. Monthly or bimonthly VVs are appropriate for clinical evaluation and up titration should be slower than usual. Patients with CD on medical therapy need to have at home prescriptions for oral and injectable GC and instruction on AI surveillance. Patients should also be advised, that if they develop a fever, to stop Cushing’s medication for few days; if they develop AI symptoms, GC administration will be required. In some countries, block and replace regimens are also employed to avoid risk of AI. Of note, for mifepristone, a glucocorticoid receptor (GR) antagonist, patients will require much higher doses of GC to reverse the blockade (1 mg of dexamethasone approximately per 400 mg of mifepristone) and for several days, as drug metabolites also have GR antagonist effects. Furthermore, for all patients who have made dose changes or discontinued medications for Cushing’s, it is essential to follow very closely and consider adjustments in the doses of concomitant medications, especially insulin, other antidiabetic and antihypertensive medications, and potassium supplements. If patients have history of radiotherapy and are still on medications for CD, a VV every few months should be performed to determine if anti-Cushing’s treatment can be slowly down-titrated (to avoid AI). A morning serum cortisol would be ideal to rule out AI off medications, however, if laboratory testing cannot be undertaken safely, clinical evaluation by serial VVs can be helpful. While head-to-head data will never be available, in COVID-19 hotspots, given the higher risk of infection with laboratory testing or face to face visits, mild hypercortisolemia might be “better” than adrenal crisis, especially in the short term! Patients with CD have increased rates of depression, anxiety and can have decreased quality of life (QoL) even when in long-term remission, thus in the challenging circumstances of the current pandemic it is it even more important to focus on psychological evaluation during virtual endocrinology visits, with referral to virtual counseling as needed. From https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11102-020-01059-7?utm_source=newsletter_370
  20. Dexamethasone, a cheap and widely used steroid, has become the first drug shown to be able to save lives among Covid-19 patients in what scientists hailed as a “major breakthrough”. Results of trials announced on Tuesday showed dexamethasone, which is used to reduce inflammation in other diseases, reduced death rates by around a third among the most severely ill Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital. The results suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients with severe cases of the pandemic disease, said the researchers who led the trials. “This is a result that shows that if patients who have Covid-19 and are on ventilators or are on oxygen are given dexamethasone, it will save lives, and it will do so at a remarkably low cost,” said Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor co-leading the trial, known as the RECOVERY trial. “It’s going to be very hard for any drug really to replace this, given that for less than 50 pounds ($63.26), you can treat eight patients and save a life,” he told reporters in an online briefing. His co-lead investigator, Peter Horby, said dexamethasone was “the only drug that’s so far shown to reduce mortality - and it reduces it significantly.” “It is a major breakthrough,” he said. “Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.” There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which has killed more than 431,000 globally. Saving ‘countless lives’ The RECOVERY trial compared outcomes of around 2,100 patients who were randomly assigned to get the steroid, with those of around 4,300 patients who did not get it. The results suggest that one death would be prevented by treatment with dexamethasone among every eight ventilated Covid-19 patients, Landray said, and one death would be prevented among every 25 Covid-19 patients that received the drug and are on oxygen. Among patients with Covid-19 who did not require respiratory support, there was no benefit from treatment with dexamethasone. “The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients,” Horby said. Nick Cammack, a expert on Covid-19 at the Wellcome Trust global health charity, said the findings would “transform the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on lives and economies across the world”. “Countless lives will be saved globally,” he said in a statement responding to the results. The RECOVERY trial was launched in April as a randomised clinical trial to test a range of potential treatments for Covid-19, including low-dose dexamethasone and the malaria drug hydoxycholoroquine. The hydroxychloroquine arm was halted earlier this month after Horby and Landray said results showed it was “useless” at treating Covid-19 patients. Global cases of infection with the novel coronavirus have reached over 8 million, according to a Reuters tally, and more than 434,000 people have died after contracting the virus, the first case if which was reported in China in early January. From https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/16/steroid-dexamethasone-reduces-deaths-from-severe-covid-19-trial.html
  21. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(20)30215-1 Over the past few months, COVID-19, the pandemic disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, has been associated with a high rate of infection and lethality, especially in patients with comorbidities such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and immunodeficiency syndromes.1 These cardiometabolic and immune impairments are common comorbidities of Cushing's syndrome, a condition characterised by excessive exposure to endogenous glucocorticoids. In patients with Cushing's syndrome, the increased cardiovascular risk factors, amplified by the increased thromboembolic risk, and the increased susceptibility to severe infections, are the two leading causes of death.2 In healthy individuals in the early phase of infection, at the physiological level, glucocorticoids exert immunoenhancing effects, priming danger sensor and cytokine receptor expression, thereby sensitising the immune system to external agents.3 However, over time and with sustained high concentrations, the principal effects of glucocorticoids are to produce profound immunosuppression, with depression of innate and adaptive immune responses. Therefore, chronic excessive glucocorticoids might hamper the initial response to external agents and the consequent activation of adaptive responses. Subsequently, a decrease in the number of B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes, as well as a reduction in T-helper cell activation might favour opportunistic and intracellular infection. As a result, an increased risk of infection is seen, with an estimated prevalence of 21–51% in patients with Cushing's syndrome.4 Therefore, despite the absence of data on the effects of COVID-19 in patients with Cushing's syndrome, one can make observations related to the compromised immune state in patients with Cushing's syndrome and provide expert advice for patients with a current or past history of Cushing's syndrome. Fever is one of the hallmarks of severe infections and is present in up to around 90% of patients with COVID-19, in addition to cough and dyspnoea.1 However, in active Cushing's syndrome, the low-grade chronic inflammation and the poor immune response might limit febrile response in the early phase of infection.2 Conversely, different symptoms might be enhanced in patients with Cushing's syndrome; for instance, dyspnoea might occur because of a combination of cardiac insufficiency or weakness of respiratory muscles.2 Therefore, during active Cushing's syndrome, physicians should seek different signs and symptoms when suspecting COVID-19, such as cough, together with dysgeusia, anosmia, and diarrhoea, and should be suspicious of any change in health status of their patients with Cushing's syndrome, rather than relying on fever and dyspnoea as typical features. The clinical course of COVID-19 might also be difficult to predict in patients with active Cushing's syndrome. Generally, patients with COVID-19 and a history of obesity, hypertension, or diabetes have a more severe course, leading to increased morbidity and mortality.1 Because these conditions are observed in most patients with active Cushing's syndrome,2 these patients might be at an increased risk of severe course, with progression to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), when developing COVID-19. However, a key element in the development of ARDS during COVID-19 is the exaggerated cellular response induced by the cytokine increase, leading to massive alveolar–capillary wall damage and a decline in gas exchange.5 Because patients with Cushing's syndrome might not mount a normal cytokine response,4 these patients might parodoxically be less prone to develop severe ARDS with COVID-19. Moreover, Cushing's syndrome and severe COVID-19 are associated with hypercoagulability, such that patients with active Cushing's syndrome might present an increased risk of thromboembolism with COVID-19. Consequently, because low molecular weight heparin seems to be associated with lower mortality and disease severity in patients with COVID-19,6 and because anticoagulation is also recommended in specific conditions in patients with active Cushing's syndrome,7 this treatment is strongly advised in hospitalised patients with Cushing's syndrome who have COVID-19. Furthermore, patients with active Cushing's syndrome are at increased risk of prolonged duration of viral infections, as well as opportunistic infections, particularly atypical bacterial and invasive fungal infections, leading to sepsis and an increased mortality risk,2 and COVID-19 patients are also at increased risk of secondary bacterial or fungal infections during hospitalisation.1 Therefore, in cases of COVID-19 during active Cushing's syndrome, prolonged antiviral treatment and empirical prophylaxis with broad-spectrum antibiotics1, 4 should be considered, especially for hospitalised patients (panel). Panel Risk factors and clinical suggestions for patients with Cushing's syndrome who have COVID-19 Reduction of febrile response and enhancement of dyspnoea Rely on different symptoms and signs suggestive of COVID-19, such as cough, dysgeusia, anosmia, and diarrhoea. Prolonged duration of viral infections and susceptibility to superimposed bacterial and fungal infections Consider prolonged antiviral and broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment. Impairment of glucose metabolism (negative prognostic factor) Optimise glycaemic control and select cortisol-lowering drugs that improve glucose metabolism. Hypertension (negative prognostic factor) Optimise blood pressure control and select cortisol-lowering drugs that improve blood pressure. Thrombosis diathesis (negative prognostic factor) Start antithrombotic prophylaxis, preferably with low-molecular-weight heparin treatment. Surgery represents the first-line treatment for all causes of Cushing's syndrome,8, 9 but during the pandemic a delay might be appropriate to reduce the hospital-associated risk of COVID-19, any post-surgical immunodepression, and thromboembolic risks.10 Because immunosuppression and thromboembolic diathesis are common Cushing's syndrome features,2, 4 during the COVID-19 pandemic, cortisol-lowering medical therapy, including the oral drugs ketoconazole, metyrapone, and the novel osilodrostat, which are usually effective within hours or days, or the parenteral drug etomidate when immediate cortisol control is required, should be temporarily used.9 Nevertheless, an expeditious definitive diagnosis and proper surgical resolution of hypercortisolism should be ensured in patients with malignant forms of Cushing's syndrome, not only to avoid disease progression risk but also for rapidly ameliorating hypercoagulability and immunospuppression;9 however, if diagnostic procedures cannot be easily secured or surgery cannot be done for limitations of hospital resources due to the pandemic, medical therapy should be preferred. Concomitantly, the optimisation of medical treatment for pre-existing comorbidities as well as the choice of cortisol-lowering drugs with potentially positive effects on obesity, hypertension, or diabates are crucial to improve the eventual clinical course of COVID-19. Once patients with Cushing's syndrome are in remission, the risk of infection is substantially decreased, but the comorbidities related to excess glucocorticoids might persist, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, together with thromboembolic diathesis.2 Because these are features associated with an increased death risk in patients with COVID-19,1 patients with Cushing's syndrome in remission should be considered a high-risk population and consequently adopt adequate self-protection strategies to minimise contagion risk. In conclusion, COVID-19 might have specific clinical presentation, clinical course, and clinical complications in patients who also have Cushing's syndrome during the active hypercortisolaemic phase, and therefore careful monitoring and specific consideration should be given to this special, susceptible population. Moreover, the use of medical therapy as a bridge treatment while waiting for the pandemic to abate should be considered. RP reports grants and personal fees from Novartis, Strongbridge, HRA Pharma, Ipsen, Shire, and Pfizer; grants from Corcept Therapeutics and IBSA Farmaceutici; and personal fees from Ferring and Italfarmaco. AMI reports non-financial support from Takeda and Ipsen; grants and non-financial support from Shire, Pfizer, and Corcept Therapeutics. BMKB reports grants from Novartis, Strongbridge, and Millendo; and personal fees from Novartis and Strongbridge. AC reports grants and personal fees from Novartis, Ipsen, Shire, and Pfizer; personal fees from Italfarmaco; and grants from Lilly, Merck, and Novo Nordisk. All other authors declare no competing interests. References 1 P Kakodkar, N Kaka, MN Baig A comprehensive literature review on the clinical presentation, and management of the pandemic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Cureus, 12 (2020), Article e7560 View Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar 2 R Pivonello, AM Isidori, MC De Martino, J Newell-Price, BMK Biller, A Colao Complications of Cushing's syndrome: state of the art Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol, 4 (2016), pp. 611-629 ArticleDownload PDFView Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar 3 DW Cain, JA Cidlowski Immune regulation by glucocorticoids Nat Rev Immunol, 17 (2017), pp. 233-247 CrossRefView Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar 4 V Hasenmajer, E Sbardella, F Sciarra, M Minnetti, AM Isidori, MA Venneri The immune system in Cushing's syndrome Trends Endocrinol Metab (2020) published online May 6, 2020. DOI:10.1016/j.tem.2020.04.004 Google Scholar 5 Q Ye, B Wang, J Mao The pathogenesis and treatment of the ‘Cytokine Storm’ in COVID-19 J Infect, 80 (2020), pp. 607-613 ArticleDownload PDFView Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar 6 N Tang, H Bai, X Chen, J Gong, D Li, Z Sun Anticoagulant treatment is associated with decreased mortality in severe coronavirus disease 2019 patients with coagulopathy J Thromb Haemost, 18 (2020), pp. 1094-1099 CrossRefView Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar 7 AM Isidori, M Minnetti, E Sbardella, C Graziadio, AB Grossman Mechanisms in endocrinology: the spectrum of haemostatic abnormalities in glucocorticoid excess and defect Eur J Endocrinol, 173 (2015), pp. R101-R113 View Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar 8 LK Nieman, BM Biller, JW Findling, et al.Treatment of Cushing's syndrome: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 100 (2015), pp. 2807-2831 CrossRefView Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar 9 R Pivonello, M De Leo, A Cozzolino, A Colao The treatment of Cushing's disease Endocr Rev, 36 (2015), pp. 385-486 CrossRefView Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar 10 J Newell-Price, L Nieman, M Reincke, A Tabarin Endocrinology in the time of COVID-19: management of Cushing's syndrome Eur J Endocrinol (2020) published online April 1. DOI:10.1530/EJE-20-0352 Google Scholar View Abstract From https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(20)30215-1/fulltext
  22. Presented by Jamie J. Van Gompel, M.D., B.S., Professor in Neurosurgery and Otolaryngology specializing in endoscopic/open skull base focusing on Pituitary tumors as well as Epilepsy at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA and Garret W. Choby, M.D., a fellowship-trained rhinologist and endoscopic skull base surgeon practicing at the Mayo Clinic. Objectives: - Understand the additional considerations that are key to performing endonasal surgery during the COVID pandemic - Identify the practice changes that are allowing pituitary surgery to proceed safely - Characterize the nasal cavity and nasopharynx as a reservoir for the coronavirus - Identify the risk of undergoing pituitary surgery during the Covid -19 pandemic Register Now! After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. Date: Monday, May 11, 2020 Time: 4:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time - 5:15 PM Pacific Daylight Time
  23. Presented by Jamie J. Van Gompel, M.D., B.S., Professor in Neurosurgery and Otolaryngology specializing in endoscopic/open skull base focusing on Pituitary tumors as well as Epilepsy at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA and Garret W. Choby, M.D., a fellowship-trained rhinologist and endoscopic skull base surgeon practicing at the Mayo Clinic. Objectives: - Understand the additional considerations that are key to performing endonasal surgery during the COVID pandemic - Identify the practice changes that are allowing pituitary surgery to proceed safely - Characterize the nasal cavity and nasopharynx as a reservoir for the coronavirus - Identify the risk of undergoing pituitary surgery during the Covid -19 pandemic Register Now! After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. Date: Monday, May 11, 2020 Time: 4:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time - 5:15 PM Pacific Daylight Time
  24. Presented by Nelson M. Oyesiku, MD, PhD, FACS Professor of Neurosurgery and Medicine Vice-Chairman, Neurosurgery Residency Program Director Emory University School of Medicine Register Now! After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. Date: Sunday, May 10, 2020 Time: 11:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time to 12:15 PM Pacific Daylight Time/ 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time
  25. Presented by Nelson M. Oyesiku, MD, PhD, FACS Professor of Neurosurgery and Medicine Vice-Chairman, Neurosurgery Residency Program Director Emory University School of Medicine Register Now! After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. Date: Sunday, May 10, 2020 Time: 11:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time to 12:15 PM Pacific Daylight Time/ 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time
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