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P. L. Storring, H. Dixon and D. R. Bangham


This paper describes the preparation and nature of the First International Standard for Human Urinary Follicle Stimulating Hormone and for Human Urinary Luteinizing Hormone, for Bioassay, and of two batches of working standard which were prepared from the same material.

A collaborative study of these materials was carried out by six laboratories in six different countries. The FSH and LH activities of the Standard were assayed in terms of those of the Second International Reference Preparation of Human Menopausal Gonadotrophins, Urinary, for Bioassay, which it replaces. The results from 20 valid FSH assays and 30 valid LH assays (using four different methods) obtained in this way gave a weighted combined potency estimate for FSH of 53.7 IU, with 95 fiducial limits of 47.2–61.1 IU, and for LH of 46.2 IU, with 95% fiducial limits of 43.3–49.3 IU. Accelerated degradation studies of the Standard stored at elevated temperatures suggested that the stability of both FSH and LH activities under normal storage conditions would be satisfactory. The FSH and LH activities of the two batches of working standard (WS-A and WS-B) were compared with those of the Standard and were not found to differ significantly, except for the LH activity of WS-B which appeared to be slightly higher than that of the Standard. Accelerated degradation studies did not show any significant differences in stability between the Standard and batches of working standards.

On the basis of these results the Standard has been established by WHO and allocated a potency for FSH of 54 IU per ampoule and for LH 46 IU per ampoule. The International Units for FSH, Human Urinary, for Bioassay and for LH (ICSH), Human Urinary, for Bioassay are thus defined as the activities contained in 0.11388 mg and 0.13369 mg of the International Standard, respectively.

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C J Peters, H L Storr, A B Grossman and M O Savage

Background: Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) was identified by Vale and co-workers in 1981 and has since been used extensively in the diagnosis of ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome (CS). It was hoped that the CRH test would discriminate between pituitary and ectopic ACTH secretion. In adults, a rise from basal to peak plasma cortisol of ≥20% and ACTH of ≥50% is consistent with Cushing’s disease (CD).

Methods: Twenty-seven paediatric patients, with CD (mean age ± s.d. 13.1 ± 3.2; range 6.4–17.8 years) were investigated in our centre between 1982 and 2005.

Results: During the CRH test, all patients showed an increase in cortisol of >20% (range 106–554%). In one patient with ectopic ACTH syndrome, there was no increase in cortisol after CRH. In six paediatric patients with CS due to primary adrenal hyperplasia, no patient showed an increase in cortisol after CRH of >1%.

Conclusions: A further suggested use of CRH is to increase the sensitivity of the central to peripheral and interpetrosal ratios of ACTH during inferior petrosal sinus catheterisation (IPSS). Bilateral IPSS with human CRH (hCRH) has been performed in our unit in 21 children with CD, as part of the preoperative preparation prior to transsphenoidal surgery (TSS). Its principal role was to identify the site of the microadenoma. Sixteen of 21 patients (76%) who underwent IPSS with hCRH were cured following TSS. In our view, the CRH test is of value during IPSS by clarifying the position of the microadenoma and in this way contributed to the overall outcome of TSS in paediatric patients with CD.

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L F Chan, H L Storr, P N Plowman, L A Perry, G M Besser, A B Grossman and M O Savage

Background/objective: Pituitary radiotherapy (RT) is an effective second-line treatment for paediatric Cushing’s disease (CD). Although the short-term effects of pituitary RT are well documented, there are less data on possible long-term sequelae. We report the long-term anterior pituitary function in a cohort of paediatric CD patients treated with pituitary RT.

Patients and methods: Between 1983 and 2006, 12 paediatric CD patients (10 males and 2 females) of mean age 11.4 years at diagnosis (range 6.4–17.4) underwent second-line pituitary RT (45 Gy in 25 fractions), following unsuccessful transsphenoidal surgery. Out of 12, 11 patients were cured by RT (cure interval 0.13–2.86 years) defined by mean serum cortisol of <150 nmol/l on 5-point day curve and midnight sleeping cortisol of <50 nmol/l. Long-term data are available for six male patients, who received RT at the age of 7.0–17.6 years. The mean follow-up from the completion of RT was 10.5 years (6.6–16.5).

Results: At a mean of 1.0 year (0.11–2.54) following RT, GH deficiency (peak GH <1–17.9 mU/l) was present in five out of six patients. On retesting at a mean of 9.3 years (7.6–11.3) after RT, three out of four patients were GH sufficient (peak GH 19.2–50.4 mU/l). Other anterior pituitary functions including serum prolactin in five out of six patients were normal on follow-up. All the six patients had testicular volumes of 20–25 ml at the age of 14.5–28.5 years.

Conclusion: This series of patients illustrates the absence of serious long-term pituitary deficiency after RT and emphasises the importance of continued surveillance.

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R P Dias, A Kumaran, L F Chan, L Martin, F Afshar, M Matson, P N Plowman, J P Monson, G M Besser, A B Grossman, M O Savage and H L Storr


Cushing's disease (CD) in prepubertal children is very rare and presents important diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. We report experience of the management of this subpopulation of CD patients.

Study design/methods

Retrospective patient case note review.


Between 1985 and 2008, 17 prepubertal children (13M, 4F), aged 5.7–14.1 years presented to our centre for diagnosis and management of CD. All children had subnormal linear growth and excessive weight gain at presentation. A high proportion (85% of males, 75% of females) had evidence of excessive virilisation. Striae and hypertension were seen in 41% of patients. The investigation with highest sensitivity (100%) for CD was excessive increase of serum cortisol to i.v. CRH (mean increase 113%). Pituitary imaging performed in all the patients showed poor concordance with findings at surgery (31%). In contrast bilateral simultaneous inferior petrosal sinus sampling (BSIPSS), performed in 11/16 subjects showed a high correlation with surgical findings (91%). In 16 patients, transsphenoidal selective adenomectomy (TSS) achieved a cure rate of 44%. However, in the 11 patients who had pre-operative BSIPSS, the cure rate was 64%. Of the 16 patients, 9 patients who were not cured by TSS received external pituitary radiotherapy.


Prepubertal CD had distinctive features with increased frequency in males, abnormal auxology and excessive virilisation. The cortisol response to i.v. CRH administration was particularly exuberant and contributed to diagnosis. BSIPSS was much more helpful than pituitary imaging in localisation of the microadenoma and was associated with improved cure rate by TSS.

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H L Storr, K I Alexandraki, L Martin, A M Isidori, G A Kaltsas, J P Monson, G M Besser, M Matson, J Evanson, F Afshar, I Sabin, M O Savage and A B Grossman


There are few published comparisons between paediatric and adult-onset Cushing's disease (CD). We compare the epidemiology, diagnostic features and cure rate by transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) in these groups.


Retrospective review of patient databases in a single university hospital centre.


Totally, 41 paediatric (mean age 12.3±3.5 years; range 5.7–17.8) and 183 adult (mean age 40±13 years; range 18.0–95.0) patients with CD were investigated.


Paediatric CD was characterised by male (63%) and adult CD by a female predominance (79%, P<0.0001). There were small but significant differences in clinical presentation. Biochemical features of CD were comparable except the serum cortisol increase during a CRH test: mean change (105%, n=39) in paediatric and (54%, n=123) in adult subjects (P<0.0001). Macroadenomas were more common in adult (15%, 28/183) than in paediatric (2%, 1/41, P=0.04) CD. Corticotroph microadenomas were more easily visualised by pituitary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in adult (76%, 50/66) compared with paediatric (55%, 21/38, P=0.045) CD with poorer concordance of imaging with surgical findings in children (P=0.058). The incidence of ACTH lateralisation by bilateral simultaneous inferior petrosal sinus sampling was comparable in paediatric (76%, 25/33) and adult (79%, 46/58; P=0.95) patients with good surgical concordance in both (82% paediatric and 79% adult). Cure rates by TSS were comparable, with a paediatric cure rate of 69%.


Several features of paediatric CD are distinct: increased frequency of prepubertal CD in males, the different clinical presentation, the decreased presence of macroadenomas and the frequent absence of radiological evidence of an adenoma on MRI.