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Darko Kastelan, Ivana Kraljevic, Tina Dusek, Nikola Knezevic, Mirsala Solak, Bojana Gardijan, Marko Kralik, Tamara Poljicanin, Tanja Skoric-Polovina and Zeljko Kastelan

Objective

The current guidelines for the management of adrenal incidentaloma advise hormonal and radiological follow-up of patients for 2–5 years after the initial diagnosis. However, the vast majority of adrenal incidentaloma are non-functional benign cortical adenomas that require no treatment, so the routine application of the current strategies often results in a number of unnecessary biochemical and radiological investigations. The aim of this study was to analyse the clinical course of patients with adrenal incidentaloma and to provide a critical review of the current management strategy of the disease.

Design and methods

This was a retrospective study performed in the Croatian Referral Center for adrenal gland disorders. The study included 319 consecutive patients with adrenal incidentaloma, 174 of which were followed for at least 24 months.

Results

The vast majority of patients were diagnosed with benign adrenal masses, whereas in about 5% of them adrenal tumor corresponded to adrenal carcinoma or metastasis. Tumor density was found to be superior to tumor size in distinguishing benign adrenal masses from malignant tumors and pheochromocytomas. During the follow-up, no patient demonstrated a clinically significant increase in tumor size. In addition, no changes, either in metanephrines and normetanephrines or in the activity of renin–aldosterone axis, were observed during the follow-up. Six patients developed subclinical Cushing's syndrome (SCS) whereas eight patients with SCS showed biochemical remission during follow-up.

Conclusion

The study suggests that the risk of an adrenal mass initially diagnosed as benign and non-functional becoming malignant or hormonally active is extremely low. Therefore, the clinical management of those patients should be tailored on an individual basis in order to avoid unnecessary procedures.

Free access

Lina Zgaga, Veronique Vitart, Caroline Hayward, Darko Kastelan, Ozren Polašek, Miro Jakovljevic, Ivana Kolcic, Zrinka Biloglav, Alan F Wright, Harry Campbell, Brian R Walker and Igor Rudan

Objective

Stress is implicated as a risk factor for numerous illnesses in humans, putatively in part mediated by biological responses to stress, such as elevated cortisol concentrations. The theory of genetic homoeostasis suggests that individual heterozygosity facilitates compensation for environmental stresses. We hypothesized that heterozygosity ameliorates the biological response to a given level of perceived stress, reflected in lower plasma cortisol concentrations.

Design

We examined the role of heterozygosity in the association between perceived psychological stress and morning cortisol concentrations in 854 individuals from the isolated island of Vis, Croatia.

Methods

Cortisol concentrations were measured in morning plasma samples. A total of 1184 autosomal microsatellite markers were genotyped and individual multi-locus heterozygosity (MLH) was calculated as the proportion of heterozygous markers. The General Health Questionnaire with 30 items (GHQ-30) was used to assess the degree of psychological distress.

Results

Mean MLH was 34.85±0.45% (range: 31.97–36.22%). Psychological distress (GHQ Likert score >31) was more prevalent in women (37 vs 18% in men, P<0.0001), in less educated people (β=−0.35 per year in school, P<0.001) and in lower socio-economic classes (β=−3.59, P<0.0001). Cortisol concentrations were positively associated with psychological distress (β=2.20, P=0.01). In a regression model adjusted for age, BMI, education and GHQ-30 score, MLH was independently and inversely associated with morning plasma cortisol concentrations (P=0.005).

Conclusion

More heterozygous individuals, as measured by microsatellite markers, had lower morning plasma cortisol concentrations for a given level of perceived psychological stress. This may be important, as higher cortisol concentrations may increase the allostatic load and be associated with a higher risk of stress-related illness.

Free access

Elena Valassi, Holger Franz, Thierry Brue, Richard A Feelders, Romana Netea-Maier, Stylianos Tsagarakis, Susan M Webb, Maria Yaneva, Martin Reincke, Michael Droste, Irina Komerdus, Dominique Maiter, Darko Kastelan, Philippe Chanson, Marija Pfeifer, Christian J Strasburger, Miklós Tóth, Olivier Chabre, Antoine Tabarin, Michal Krsek, Carmen Fajardo, Marek Bolanowski, Alicia Santos, John A H Wass, Peter J Trainer and for the ERCUSYN Study Group

Objective

To evaluate which tests are performed to diagnose hypercortisolism in patients included in the European Registry on Cushing’s syndrome (ERCUSYN), and to examine if their use differs from the current guidelines.

Patients and methods

We analyzed data on the diagnostic tests performed in 1341 patients with Cushing’s syndrome (CS) who have been entered into the ERCUSYN database between January 1, 2000 and January 31, 2016 from 57 centers in 26 European countries. Sixty-seven percent had pituitary-dependent CS (PIT-CS), 24% had adrenal-dependent CS (ADR-CS), 6% had CS from an ectopic source (ECT-CS) and 3% were classified as having CS from other causes (OTH-CS).

Results

Of the first-line tests, urinary free cortisol (UFC) test was performed in 78% of patients, overnight 1 mg dexamethasone suppression test (DST) in 60% and late-night salivary cortisol (LSaC) in 25%. Use of LSaC increased in the last five years as compared with previous years (P < 0.01). Use of HDDST was slightly more frequent in the last 5 years as compared with previous years (P < 0.05). Of the additional tests, late-night serum cortisol (LSeC) was measured in 62% and 48-h 2 mg/day low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (LDDST) in 33% of cases. ACTH was performed in 78% of patients. LSeC and overnight 1 mg DST supported the diagnosis of both PIT-CS and ADR-CS more frequently than UFC (P < 0.05).

Conclusions

Use of diagnostic tests for CS varies across Europe and partly differs from the currently available guidelines. It would seem pertinent that a European consensus be established to determine the best diagnostic approach to CS, taking into account specific inter-country differences with regard to the availability of diagnostic tools.

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Elena Valassi, Antoine Tabarin, Thierry Brue, Richard A Feelders, Martin Reincke, Romana Netea-Maier, Miklós Tóth, Sabina Zacharieva, Susan M Webb, Stylianos Tsagarakis, Philippe Chanson, Marija Pfeiffer, Michael Droste, Irina Komerdus, Darko Kastelan, Dominique Maiter, Olivier Chabre, Holger Franz, Alicia Santos, Christian J Strasburger, Peter J Trainer, John Newell-Price, Oskar Ragnarsson and the ERCUSYN Study Group

Objective

Patients with Cushing’s syndrome (CS) have increased mortality. The aim of this study was to evaluate the causes and time of death in a large cohort of patients with CS and to establish factors associated with increased mortality.

Methods

In this cohort study, we analyzed 1564 patients included in the European Registry on CS (ERCUSYN); 1045 (67%) had pituitary-dependent CS, 385 (25%) adrenal-dependent CS, 89 (5%) had an ectopic source and 45 (3%) other causes. The median (IQR) overall follow-up time in ERCUSYN was 2.7 (1.2–5.5) years.

Results

Forty-nine patients had died at the time of the analysis; 23 (47%) with pituitary-dependent CS, 6 (12%) with adrenal-dependent CS, 18 (37%) with ectopic CS and two (4%) with CS due to other causes. Of 42 patients whose cause of death was known, 15 (36%) died due to progression of the underlying disease, 13 (31%) due to infections, 7 (17%) due to cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease and 2 due to pulmonary embolism. The commonest cause of death in patients with pituitary-dependent CS and adrenal-dependent CS were infectious diseases (n = 8) and progression of the underlying tumor (n = 10) in patients with ectopic CS. Patients who had died were older and more often males, and had more frequently muscle weakness, diabetes mellitus and ectopic CS, compared to survivors. Of 49 deceased patients, 22 (45%) died within 90 days from start of treatment and 5 (10%) before any treatment was given. The commonest cause of deaths in these 27 patients were infections (n = 10; 37%). In a regression analysis, age, ectopic CS and active disease were independently associated with overall death before and within 90 days from the start of treatment.

Conclusion

Mortality rate was highest in patients with ectopic CS. Infectious diseases were the commonest cause of death soon after diagnosis, emphasizing the need for careful clinical vigilance at that time, especially in patients presenting with concomitant diabetes mellitus.

Free access

Elena Valassi, Holger Franz, Thierry Brue, Richard A Feelders, Romana Netea-Maier, Stylianos Tsagarakis, Susan M Webb, Maria Yaneva, Martin Reincke, Michael Droste, Irina Komerdus, Dominique Maiter, Darko Kastelan, Philippe Chanson, Marija Pfeifer, Christian J Strasburger, Miklós Tóth, Olivier Chabre, Michal Krsek, Carmen Fajardo, Marek Bolanowski, Alicia Santos, Peter J Trainer, John A H Wass, Antoine Tabarin and for the ERCUSYN Study Group

Background

Surgery is the definitive treatment of Cushing’s syndrome (CS) but medications may also be used as a first-line therapy. Whether preoperative medical treatment (PMT) affects postoperative outcome remains controversial.

Objective

(1) Evaluate how frequently PMT is given to CS patients across Europe; (2) examine differences in preoperative characteristics of patients who receive PMT and those who undergo primary surgery and (3) determine if PMT influences postoperative outcome in pituitary-dependent CS (PIT-CS).

Patients and methods

1143 CS patients entered into the ERCUSYN database from 57 centers in 26 countries. Sixty-nine percent had PIT-CS, 25% adrenal-dependent CS (ADR-CS), 5% CS from an ectopic source (ECT-CS) and 1% were classified as having CS from other causes (OTH-CS).

Results

Twenty per cent of patients took PMT. ECT-CS and PIT-CS were more likely to receive PMT compared to ADR-CS (P < 0.001). Most commonly used drugs were ketoconazole (62%), metyrapone (16%) and a combination of both (12%). Median (interquartile range) duration of PMT was 109 (98) days. PIT-CS patients treated with PMT had more severe clinical features at diagnosis and poorer quality of life compared to those undergoing primary surgery (SX) (P < 0.05). Within 7 days of surgery, PIT-CS patients treated with PMT were more likely to have normal cortisol (P < 0.01) and a lower remission rate (P < 0.01). Within 6 months of surgery, no differences in morbidity or remission rates were observed between SX and PMT groups.

Conclusions

PMT may confound the interpretation of immediate postoperative outcome. Follow-up is recommended to definitely evaluate surgical results.