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Filippo Ceccato, Nora Albiger, Giuseppe Reimondo, Anna Chiara Frigo, Sergio Ferasin, Gianluca Occhi, Franco Mantero, Massimo Terzolo and Carla Scaroni

Context

Appropriate glucocorticoid replacement therapy in adrenal insufficiency (AI) is crucial, given the risks of chronic under- or overtreatment, particularly in patients on multiple medications. Salivary sampling allows for non-invasive, stress-free cortisol measurement.

Objective

To determine whether salivary cortisol measurement is helpful in assessing the adequacy of glucocorticoid therapy with cortisone acetate (CA) in patients with secondary AI.

Design

A prospective cohort study at the Endocrinology Unit of Padua University Hospital.

Methods

Six samples of salivary cortisol were collected from 28 patients with secondary AI on CA treatment and from 36 healthy volunteers at fixed times of the day, and used to calculate salivary cortisol levels at each time point and the area under the curve (AUC) across the different sampling times.

Results

Salivary cortisol levels were lower in patients than in controls in the morning but no differences were found in the afternoon or at night before resting. Salivary cortisol levels were higher in patients immediately following CA administration. Ten patients showed an AUC above the 97.5th percentile of controls, without clinical signs of hypercortisolism, and salivary cortisol levels 90 min after each dose of CA predict the AUC. All patients had severe GH deficiency and there were no differences in salivary cortisol levels or AUC between patients treated or not with GH.

Conclusions

Two salivary cortisol determinations, able to predict the daily AUC, may allow for assessing the adequacy of glucocorticoid replacement therapy in secondary AI and for identifying cases of over- or undertreatment.

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Lara Naletto, Anna Chiara Frigo, Filippo Ceccato, Chiara Sabbadin, Riccardo Scarpa, Fabio Presotto, Miriam Dalla Costa, Diego Faggian, Mario Plebani, Simona Censi, Jacopo Manso, Jadwiga Furmaniak, Shu Chen, Bernard Rees Smith, Stefano Masiero, Francesca Pigliaru, Marco Boscaro, Carla Scaroni and Corrado Betterle

Background

Adrenal cortex autoantibodies (ACAs) and/or 21-hydroxylase (21OHAb) are markers of autoimmune Addison’s disease (AAD) and progression to overt AAD. The reported cumulative risk of developing AAD varies from 0 to 90% in different studies.

Aim

To assess the predictive value of different parameters in the progression toward AAD in patients with ACA and/or 21OHAb-positive patients with autoimmune polyendocrine syndromes (APS).

Materials and methods

Twenty-nine patients with APS-1 and 114 patients with APS-2 or APS-4 were followed up for a median of 10 years (range 6 months to 33 years) and were assessed using ACTH test. The risk of AAD was estimated according to age, gender, stage of adrenal dysfunction, associated diseases and antibody titer. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazard models were used for statistical analysis.

Results

The cumulative risk (CR) of developing AAD was higher in APS-1 patients (94.2%) than in patients with APS-2/APS-4 (38.7%). The CR was high in both male and female APS-1 patients, while in patients with APS-2/APS-4 it was high only in males. Stage 1 (increased plasma renin) for patients with APS-1 and Stage 2 (no response of cortisol to ACTH test) for patients with APS-2/APS-4 were established as the points of no return in the progression to AAD. Adjusted hazard ratio analyses by multivariate Cox model for AAD showed that gender, diseases and adrenal function were independent risk factors for developing clinical AAD. The risk of developing clinical AAD appears to subside after 19 years of follow-up.

Conclusions

A model for estimating the probability to survive free of AAD has been developed and should be a useful tool in designing appropriate follow-up intervals and future therapeutic strategies.