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Valentina Camozzi, Francesca Sanguin, Nora Albigier, Carla Scaroni, Franco Mantero, Martina Zaninotto, Annachiara Frigo, Michele Piccolo and Giovanni Luisetto


Osteoprotegerin (OPG) has been identified as a decoy receptor that inhibits osteoclast differentiation and, more recently, as a paracrine regulator of vascular calcification. OPG is suppressed by glucocorticoids (GC); however, results from experimental and clinical studies are not univocal. The aim of this study was to evaluate OPG and bone metabolism in patients with Cushing's syndrome (CS) before and after cure.

Design and methods

Twenty-six patients with CS (all women, mean age: 39.1±11.9 years) and 24 age- and gonadal status-matched healthy women were studied for bone mineral density, bone metabolism, OPG, and receptor activator of nuclear factor-kB ligand at baseline. Twelve patients were also studied 6–18 months after surgery, with persistent normalization of cortisol levels.


OPG was significantly higher and osteocalcin (OC) was significantly lower in CS patients than in controls (OPG: 4.17±1.23 vs 2.95±0.79 pmol/l, P=0.00001; OC: 15.0±6.1 vs 18.8±6.8 ng/ml, P=0.04 in CS and controls respectively). After cure, we found no difference in OPG levels, despite a significant increase in OC levels (from 16.4±11 to 37.2±15 ng/ml, P=0.03).


Patients with CS showed increased OPG serum levels that remained unchanged after recovery, despite a restoration of bone formation. We speculate that high levels of OPG could reflect the persistent damage of the GCs on cardiovascular system.

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Lara Naletto, Annachiara 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 (ACA) 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 0-90% in different studies.

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

Materials and Methods 29 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-33 years) and assessed by 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%) compared to patients with APS-2/APS-4 (38.7%). The CR was high in both males and females with 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, 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.