Irina Bancos, Jon Hazeldine, Vasileios Chortis, Peter Hampson, Angela E Taylor, Janet M Lord, and Wiebke Arlt
Irina Bancos, Jon Hazeldine, Vasileios Chortis, Peter Hampson, Angela E Taylor, Janet M Lord, and Wiebke Arlt
Mortality in patients with primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI) is significantly increased, with respiratory infections as a major cause of death. Moreover, patients with PAI report an increased rate of non-fatal infections. Neutrophils and natural killer (NK) cells are innate immune cells that provide frontline protection against invading pathogens. Thus, we compared the function and phenotype of NK cells and neutrophils isolated from PAI patients and healthy controls to ascertain whether altered innate immune responses could be a contributory factor for the increased susceptibility of PAI patients to infection.
Design and methods
We undertook a cross-sectional study of 42 patients with PAI due to autoimmune adrenalitis (n = 37) or bilateral adrenalectomy (n = 5) and 58 sex- and age-matched controls. A comprehensive screen of innate immune function, consisting of measurements of neutrophil phagocytosis, reactive oxygen species production, NK cell cytotoxicity (NKCC) and NK cell surface receptor expression, was performed on all subjects.
Neutrophil function did not differ between PAI and controls. However, NKCC was significantly reduced in PAI (12.0 ± 1.5% vs 21.1 ± 2.6%, P < 0.0001). Phenotypically, the percentage of NK cells expressing the activating receptors NKG2D and NKp46 was significantly lower in PAI, as was the surface density of NKG2D (all P < 0.0001). Intracellular granzyme B expression was significantly increased in NK cells from PAI patients (P < 0.01).
Adrenal insufficiency is associated with significantly decreased NKCC, thereby potentially compromising early recognition and elimination of virally infected cells. This potential impairment in anti-viral immune defense may contribute to the increased rate of respiratory infections and ultimately mortality in PAI.
Vasileios Chortis, Nicholas J Johal, Irina Bancos, Matthew Evans, Kassiani Skordilis, Peter Guest, Michael H Cullen, Emilio Porfiri, and Wiebke Arlt
Mitotane (o,p′DDD) is established in the adjuvant and advanced-stage treatment of adrenocortical carcinoma and counteracts both tumor growth and tumor-related steroid production. Both the adrenal glands and the gonads are steroidogenically active organs and share a common embryogenic origin. Here, we describe the effects of mitotane in two patients with metastatic Leydig cell tumor (LCT) of the testes and associated severe androgen excess (serum testosterone 93 and 88 nmol/L, respectively; male reference range 7–27 nmol/L). Both men suffered from severe restlessness, insomnia and irritability, which they described as intolerable and disrupting normal life activities. Urinary steroid profiling by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) confirmed excess androgen production and revealed concurrent overproduction of glucocorticoids and glucocorticoid precursors, which under physiological conditions are produced only by the adrenal glands but not by the gonads. In a palliative approach, they were commenced on mitotane, which achieved swift control of the hormone excess and the debilitating clinical symptoms, restoring normal quality of life. GC–MS demonstrated normalization of steroid production and decreased 5α-reductase activity, resulting in decreased androgen activation, and imaging demonstrated disease stabilization for 4–10 months. In conclusion, mitotane can be highly effective in controlling steroid excess in metastatic LCTs, with anti-tumor activity in some cases.
Irina Bancos, Shrikant Tamhane, Muhammad Shah, Danae A Delivanis, Fares Alahdab, Wiebke Arlt, Martin Fassnacht, and M Hassan Murad
To perform a systematic review of published literature on adrenal biopsy and to assess its performance in diagnosing adrenal malignancy.
Medline In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trial were searched from inception to February 2016. Reviewers extracted data and assessed methodological quality in duplicate.
We included 32 observational studies reporting on 2174 patients (39.4% women, mean age 59.8 years) undergoing 2190 adrenal mass biopsy procedures. Pathology was described in 1621/2190 adrenal lesions (689 metastases, 68 adrenocortical carcinomas, 64 other malignancies, 464 adenomas, 226 other benign, 36 pheochromocytomas, and 74 others). The pooled non-diagnostic rate (30 studies, 2013 adrenal biopsies) was 8.7% (95%CI: 6–11%). The pooled complication rate (25 studies, 1339 biopsies) was 2.5% (95%CI: 1.5–3.4%). Studies were at a moderate risk for bias. Most limitations related to patient selection, assessment of outcome, and adequacy of follow-up. Only eight studies (240 patients) could be included in the diagnostic performance analysis with a sensitivity and specificity of 87 and 100% for malignancy, 70 and 98% for adrenocortical carcinoma, and 87 and 96% for metastasis respectively.
Evidence based on small sample size and moderate risk of bias suggests that adrenal biopsy appears to be most useful in the diagnosis of adrenal metastasis in patients with a history of extra-adrenal malignancy. Adrenal biopsy should only be performed if the expected findings are likely to alter the management of the individual patient and after biochemical exclusion of catecholamine-producing tumors to help prevent potentially life-threatening complications.
Irina Bancos, Fares Alahdab, Rachel K Crowley, Vasileios Chortis, Danae A Delivanis, Dana Erickson, Neena Natt, Massimo Terzolo, Wiebke Arlt, William F Young Jr, and M Hassan Murad
Beneficial effects of adrenalectomy on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with subclinical Cushing’s syndrome (SCS) are uncertain. We sought to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis with the following objectives: (i) determine the effect of adrenalectomy compared with conservative management on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with SCS and (ii) compare the effect of adrenalectomy on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with SCS vs those with a nonfunctioning (NF) adrenal tumor.
MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trial were searched on 17 November 2015. Reviewers extracted data and assessed methodological quality in duplicate.
We included 26 studies reporting on 584 patients with SCS and 457 patients with NF adrenal tumors. Studies used different definitions of SCS. Patients with SCS undergoing adrenalectomy demonstrated an overall improvement in cardiovascular risk factors (61% for hypertension, 52% for diabetes mellitus, 45% for obesity and 24% for dyslipidemia). When compared with conservative management, patients with SCS undergoing adrenalectomy experienced improvement in hypertension (RR 11, 95% CI: 4.3–27.8) and diabetes mellitus (RR 3.9, 95% CI: 1.5–9.9), but not dyslipidemia (RR 2.6, 95% CI: 0.97–7.2) or obesity (RR 3.4, 95% CI: 0.95–12). Patients with NF adrenal tumors experienced improvement in hypertension (21/54 patients); however, insufficient data exist for comparison to patients with SCS.
Available low-to-moderate-quality evidence from heterogeneous studies suggests a beneficial effect of adrenalectomy on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with SCS overall and compared with conservative management.
Jacqueline Dinnes, Irina Bancos, Lavinia Ferrante di Ruffano, Vasileios Chortis, Clare Davenport, Susan Bayliss, Anju Sahdev, Peter Guest, Martin Fassnacht, Jonathan J Deeks, and Wiebke Arlt
Adrenal masses are incidentally discovered in 5% of CT scans. In 2013/2014, 81 million CT examinations were undertaken in the USA and 5 million in the UK. However, uncertainty remains around the optimal imaging approach for diagnosing malignancy. We aimed to review the evidence on the accuracy of imaging tests for differentiating malignant from benign adrenal masses.
A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted.
We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane CENTRAL Register of Controlled Trials, Science Citation Index, Conference Proceedings Citation Index, and ZETOC (January 1990 to August 2015). We included studies evaluating the accuracy of CT, MRI, or 18F-fluoro-deoxyglucose (FDG)-PET compared with an adequate histological or imaging-based follow-up reference standard.
We identified 37 studies suitable for inclusion, after screening 5469 references and 525 full-text articles. Studies evaluated the accuracy of CT (n=16), MRI (n=15), and FDG-PET (n=9) and were generally small and at high or unclear risk of bias. Only 19 studies were eligible for meta-analysis. Limited data suggest that CT density >10HU has high sensitivity for detection of adrenal malignancy in participants with no prior indication for adrenal imaging, that is, masses with ≤10HU are unlikely to be malignant. All other estimates of test performance are based on too small numbers.
Despite their widespread use in routine assessment, there is insufficient evidence for the diagnostic value of individual imaging tests in distinguishing benign from malignant adrenal masses. Future research is urgently needed and should include prospective test validation studies for imaging and novel diagnostic approaches alongside detailed health economics analysis.
Ahmad Hazem, Mohamed B Elamin, German Malaga, Irina Bancos, Yolanda Prevost, Claudia Zeballos-Palacios, Edgar R Velasquez, Patricia J Erwin, Neena Natt, Victor M Montori, and Mohammad Hassan Murad
The diagnostic accuracy of tests used to diagnose GH deficiency (GHD) in adults is unclear.
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that provided data on the available diagnostic tests.
We searched electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane CENTRAL, Web of Sciences, and Scopus) through April 2011.
Review of reference lists and contact with experts identified additional candidate studies. Reviewers, working independently and in duplicate, determined study eligibility.
Reviewers, working independently and in duplicate, determined the methodological quality of studies and collected descriptive, quality, and outcome data.
Twenty-three studies provided diagnostic accuracy data; none provided patient outcome data. Studies had fair methodological quality, used several reference standards, and included over 1100 patients. Several tests based on direct or indirect stimulation of GH release were associated with good diagnostic accuracy, although most were assessed in one or two studies decreasing the strength of inference due to small sample size. Serum levels of GH or IGF1 had low diagnostic accuracy. Pooled sensitivity and specificity of the two most commonly used stimulation tests were found to be 95 and 89% for the insulin tolerance test and 73 and 81% for the GHRH+arginine test respectively. Meta-analytic estimates for accuracy were associated with substantial heterogeneity.
Several tests with reasonable diagnostic accuracy are available for the diagnosis of GHD in adults. The supporting evidence, however, is at high risk of bias (due to heterogeneity, methodological limitations, and imprecision).
Martin Fassnacht, Wiebke Arlt, Irina Bancos, Henning Dralle, John Newell-Price, Anju Sahdev, Antoine Tabarin, Massimo Terzolo, Stylianos Tsagarakis, and Olaf M Dekkers
By definition, an adrenal incidentaloma is an asymptomatic adrenal mass detected on imaging not performed for suspected adrenal disease. In most cases, adrenal incidentalomas are nonfunctioning adrenocortical adenomas, but may also represent conditions requiring therapeutic intervention (e.g. adrenocortical carcinoma, pheochromocytoma, hormone-producing adenoma or metastasis). The purpose of this guideline is to provide clinicians with best possible evidence-based recommendations for clinical management of patients with adrenal incidentalomas based on the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) system. We predefined four main clinical questions crucial for the management of adrenal incidentaloma patients, addressing these four with systematic literature searches: (A) How to assess risk of malignancy?; (B) How to define and manage low-level autonomous cortisol secretion, formerly called ‘subclinical’ Cushing’s syndrome?; (C) Who should have surgical treatment and how should it be performed?; (D) What follow-up is indicated if the adrenal incidentaloma is not surgically removed?
(i) At the time of initial detection of an adrenal mass establishing whether the mass is benign or malignant is an important aim to avoid cumbersome and expensive follow-up imaging in those with benign disease. (ii) To exclude cortisol excess, a 1mg overnight dexamethasone suppression test should be performed (applying a cut-off value of serum cortisol ≤50nmol/L (1.8µg/dL)). (iii) For patients without clinical signs of overt Cushing’s syndrome but serum cortisol levels post 1mg dexamethasone >138nmol/L (>5µg/dL), we propose the term ‘autonomous cortisol secretion’. (iv) All patients with ‘(possible) autonomous cortisol’ secretion should be screened for hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus, to ensure these are appropriately treated. (v) Surgical treatment should be considered in an individualized approach in patients with ‘autonomous cortisol secretion’ who also have comorbidities that are potentially related to cortisol excess. (vi) In principle, the appropriateness of surgical intervention should be guided by the likelihood of malignancy, the presence and degree of hormone excess, age, general health and patient preference. (vii) Surgery is not usually indicated in patients with an asymptomatic, nonfunctioning unilateral adrenal mass and obvious benign features on imaging studies. We provide guidance on which surgical approach should be considered for adrenal masses with radiological findings suspicious of malignancy. Furthermore, we offer recommendations for the follow-up of patients with adrenal incidentaloma who do not undergo adrenal surgery, for those with bilateral incidentalomas, for patients with extra-adrenal malignancy and adrenal masses and for young and elderly patients with adrenal incidentalomas
Dingfeng Li, Ravinder Jeet Kaur, Catherine D Zhang, Andreas Ebbehoj, Sumitabh Singh, Elizabeth J Atkinson, Sara J Achenbach, Walter Rocca, Sundeep Khosla, and Irina Bancos
Several small studies reported increased prevalence and incidence of asymptomatic vertebral fractures in patients with non-functioning adrenal adenomas and adenomas with mild autonomous cortisol secretion. However, the risk of symptomatic fractures at vertebrae, and at other sites remains unknown. Our objective was to determine the prevalence and incidence of symptomatic site-specific fractures in patients with adrenal adenomas.
Population-based cohort study, Olmsted County, Minnesota, USA, 1995–2017.
Participants were the patients with adrenal adenoma and age/sex-matched referent subjects. Patients with overt hormone excess were excluded. Main outcomes measures were prevalence and incidence of bone fractures.
Of 1004 patients with adrenal adenomas, 582 (58%) were women, and median age at diagnosis was 63 years (20–96). At the time of diagnosis, patients had a higher prevalence of previous fractures than referent subjects (any fracture: 47.9% vs 41.3%, P = 0.003, vertebral fracture: 6.4% vs 3.6%, P = 0.004, combined osteoporotic sites: 16.6% vs 13.3%, P = 0.04). Median duration of follow-up was 6.8 years (range: 0–21.9 years). After adjusting for age, sex, BMI, tobacco use, prior history of fracture, and common causes of secondary osteoporosis, patients with adenoma had hazard ratio of 1.27 (95% CI: 1.07–1.52) for developing a new fracture during follow up when compared to referent subjects.
Patients with adrenal adenomas have higher prevalence of fractures at the time of diagnosis and increased risk to develop new fractures when compared to referent subjects.
Danae A Delivanis, Maria D Hurtado Andrade, Tiffany Cortes, Shobana Athimulam, Aakanksha Khanna, Elizabeth Atkinson, Travis McKenzie, Naoki Takahashi, Michael R Moynagh, and Irina Bancos
Increased visceral fat and sarcopenia are cardiovascular risk factors that may explain increased cardiovascular morbidity and frailty in patients with adrenal adenomas. Our objective was to compare body composition measurement of patients with adrenal adenomas to referent subjects without adrenal disease.
Cross-sectional study, 2014–2018.
Participants were adults with nonfunctioning adrenal tumor (NFAT), mild autonomous cortisol secretion (MACS), and Cushing syndrome (CS) and age, sex, and BMI 1:1 matched referent subjects without adrenal disorders. Main outcome measures were body composition measurements calculated from abdominal CT imaging. Intra-abdominal adipose tissue and muscle mass measurements were performed at the third lumbar spine level.
Of 227 patients with adrenal adenomas, 20 were diagnosed with CS, 76 with MACS, and 131 with NFAT. Median age was 56 years (range: 18–89), and 67% were women. When compared to referent subjects, patients with CS, MACS, and NFAT demonstrated a higher visceral fat (odds ratio (OR): 2.2 (95% CI: 0.9–6.5), 2.0 (1.3–3.2), and 1.8 (1.2–2.7) and a lower skeletal muscle area (OR: 0.01 (95% CI: 0–0.09), 0.31 (0.18–0.49), and 0.3 (1.2–2.7)) respectively. For every 1 µg/dL cortisol increase after overnight dexamethasone, visceral fat/muscle area ratio increased by 2.3 (P = 0.02) and mean total skeletal muscle area decreased by 2.2 cm2 (P = 0.03).
Patients with adrenal adenomas demonstrate a lower muscle mass and a higher proportion of visceral fat when compared to referent subjects, including patients with NFAT. Even a subtle abnormality in cortisol secretion may impact health of patients with adenomas.