Cushing’s syndrome is associated with long-term cognitive deficits and affective symptoms such as depression and anxiety. The alterations in brain function underlying these deficits after Cushing’s syndrome are unclear and therefore we aimed to explore alterations in resting-state functional connectivity in patients with Cushing’s syndrome in remission.
Cross-sectional case–control study.
Nineteen women with Cushing’s syndrome in remission for a median time of 7 years (IQR: 6–10) and a mean age of 45 years were included at three university clinics. These patients and 38 age-matched female controls underwent brain imaging at a single center. The main outcome measure was functional connectivity at rest, measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging.
The medial temporal lobe (MTL) and prefrontal cortex networks, exhibited elevated functional connectivity among patients compared to controls. The degree of elevated functional connectivity in the MTL was negatively associated with time in remission.
Resting-state functional connectivity within glucocorticoid receptor-rich regions, particularly the MTL and medial prefrontal cortex, was increased in patients. These differences in connectivity may provide a neural basis for the cognitive deficits and affective symptoms commonly experienced by patients with Cushing’s syndrome in remission.