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Free access

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.

Free access

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

Objective

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.

Results

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).

Conclusion

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.

Free access

Filippo Ceccato, Mattia Barbot, Nora Albiger, Marialuisa Zilio, Pietro De Toni, Giovanni Luisetto, Martina Zaninotto, Nella Augusta Greggio, Marco Boscaro, Carla Scaroni and Valentina Camozzi

Introduction

Patients with 21-hydroxylase deficiency (21OHD) assume a lifelong glucocorticoid (GC) therapy. Excessive GC treatment increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, even though the role of substitutive therapy is not fully established: we analyzed the effect of GC dose on bone metabolism and bone mineral density (BMD) over time in patients with 21OHD.

Methods

We studied bone metabolism markers and BMD in 38 adult patients with 21OHD (19–47 years, 24 females and 14 males) and 38 matched healthy control. In 15 patients, BMD data were available at both baseline and after a long-term follow-up.

Results

BMD was lower in patients than in controls at lumbar spine (0.961±0.1g/cm2 vs 1.02±0.113g/cm2, P=0.014) and femur neck (0.736±0.128g/cm2 vs 0.828±0.103g/cm2, P=0.02); otherwise, after height correction, only femoral neck BMD was lower in patients (0.458±0.081g/cm2 vs 0.498±0.063g/cm2, P=0.028). In those 21OHD subjects with at least 10 years follow-up, we observed an increase in lumbar BMD (P=0.0429) and a decrease in femur neck BMD values (P=0.004). Cumulative GC dose was not related to bone metabolism or BMD. No patient experienced clinical fragility fractures.

Conclusions

BMD values are decreased in patients with 21OHD, which are in part explained by decreased height, but not by the dose of glucocorticoids. Nevertheless, bone status should be carefully monitored in patients with 21OHD.

Free access

Filippo Ceccato, Mattia Barbot, Marialuisa Zilio, Sergio Ferasin, Gianluca Occhi, Andrea Daniele, Sara Mazzocut, Maurizio Iacobone, Corrado Betterle, Franco Mantero and Carla Scaroni

Objective

Salivary cortisol has recently been suggested for studies on the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. The lack of circadian rhythm is a marker of Cushing's syndrome (CS), and some authors have reported that low salivary cortisol levels may be a marker of adrenal insufficiency. The aim of our study was to define the role of salivary cortisol in specific diagnostic settings of HPA axis disease.

Subjects and methods

We analyzed morning salivary cortisol (MSC) and late-night salivary cortisol (LNSC) levels in 406 subjects: 52 patients with Cushing's disease (CD), 13 with ectopic CS, 17 with adrenal CS, 27 with CD in remission (a mean follow-up of 66±39 months), 45 with adrenal incidentaloma, 73 assessed as having CS and then ruled out for endogenous hypercortisolism, 75 with adrenal insufficiency, and 104 healthy subjects.

Results

A LNSC value above 5.24 ng/ml differentiated CS patients from controls with high sensitivity (96.3%) and specificity (97.1%); we found higher LNSC levels in ectopic CS patients than in CD patients. We found no difference in MSC and LNSC levels between patients with CD in remission and healthy subjects. Both MSC and LNSC levels were higher in patients with adrenal incidentaloma than in healthy controls. A MSC value below 2.65 ng/ml distinguished patients with adrenal insufficiency from controls with high sensitivity (97.1%) and specificity (93.3%).

Conclusions

Salivary cortisol is a useful tool to assess endogenous cortisol excess or adrenal insufficiency and to evaluate stable CD in remission.

Free access

Filippo Ceccato, Giorgia Antonelli, Mattia Barbot, Marialuisa Zilio, Linda Mazzai, Rosalba Gatti, Martina Zaninotto, Franco Mantero, Marco Boscaro, Mario Plebani and Carla Scaroni

Objective

The Endocrine Society Clinical Guidelines recommend measuring 24-h urinary free cortisol (UFF) levels using a highly accurate method as one of the first-line screening tests for the diagnosis of Cushing's Syndrome (CS). We evaluated the performance of UFF, urinary free cortisone (UFE), and the UFF:UFE ratio, measured using a liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) method.

Subjects and methods

The LC–MS/MS was used to analyze UFF and UFE levels in 43 surgically confirmed CS patients: 26 with Cushing's disease (CD, 16 de novo and ten recurrences), 11 with adrenal CS and six with ectopic CS; 22 CD patients in remission; 14 eu-cortisolemic CD patients receiving medical therapy; 60 non-CS patients; and 70 healthy controls. Sensitivity and specificity were determined in the combined groups of non-CS patients, healthy controls, and CD in remission.

Results

UFF>170 nmol/24 h showed 98.7% specificity and 100% sensitivity for de novo CS, while sensitivity was 80% for recurrent CD patients, who were characterized by lower UFF levels. The UFF:UFE and UFF+UFE showed lower sensitivity and specificity than UFF. Ectopic CS patients had the highest UFF and UFF:UFE levels, which were normal in the CD remission patients and in those receiving medical therapy.

Conclusions

Our data suggest high diagnostic performance of UFF excretion measured using LC–MS/MS, in detecting de novo CS. UFF:UFE and UFF+UFE assessments are not useful in the first step of CS diagnosis, although high levels were found to be indicative of ectopic CS.

Free access

Maria Vittoria Davi’, Elisa Cosaro, Serena Piacentini, Giuseppe Reimondo, Nora Albiger, Giorgio Arnaldi, Antongiulio Faggiano, Giovanna Mantovani, Nicola Fazio, Alessandro Piovesan, Emanuela Arvat, Franco Grimaldi, Letizia Canu, Massimo Mannelli, Alberto Giacinto Ambrogio, Francesca Pecori Giraldi, Chiara Martini, Andrea Lania, Manuela Albertelli, Diego Ferone, Maria Chiara Zatelli, Davide Campana, Annamaria Colao, Carla Scaroni, Massimo Terzolo, Laura De Marinis, Sara Cingarlini, Rocco Micciolo and Giuseppe Francia

Objective

Evidence is limited regarding outcome of patients with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome (ECS) due to neuroendocrine tumors (NETs).

Design

We assessed the prognostic factors affecting the survival of patients with NETs and ECS.

Methods

Retrospective analysis of clinicopathological features, severity of hormonal syndrome, treatments from a large cohort of patients with NETs and ECS collected from 17 Italian centers.

Results

Our series included 110 patients, 58.2% female, with mean (±s.d.) age at diagnosis of 49.5 ± 15.9 years. The main sources of ectopic ACTH were bronchial carcinoids (BC) (40.9%), occult tumors (22.7%) and pancreatic (p)NETs (15.5%). Curative surgery was performed in 56.7% (70.2% of BC, 11% of pNETs). Overall survival was significantly higher in BC compared with pNETs and occult tumors (P = 0.033) and in G1-NETs compared with G2 and G3 (P = 0.007). Negative predictive factors for survival were severity of hypercortisolism (P < 0.02), hypokalemia (P = 0.001), diabetes mellitus (P = 0.0146) and distant metastases (P < 0.001). Improved survival was observed in patients who underwent NET removal (P < 0.001). Adrenalectomy improved short-term survival.

Conclusions

Multiple factors affect prognosis of ECS patients: type of NET, grading, distant metastases, severity of hypercortisolism, hypokalemia and diabetes mellitus. BCs have the highest curative surgical rate and better survival compared with occult tumors and pNETs. Hypercortisolism plays a primary role in affecting outcome and quality of life; therefore, prompt and vigorous treatment of hormonal excess by NET surgery and medical therapy should be a key therapeutic goal. In refractory cases, adrenalectomy should be considered as it affects outcome positively at least in the first 2 years.

Restricted access

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.