Cushing's disease (CD) is the commonest form of ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome and is a rare clinical diagnosis in paediatric and adolescent patients. CD is caused by an ACTH-secreting pituitary corticotroph adenoma and is associated with significant morbidity in children; therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are critical for optimal therapeutic outcome. This review highlights the key clinical and biochemical features of paediatric CD and appraises current practices in diagnosis and management. A close liaison with adult endocrinology colleagues, particularly, for interpretation of investigations and definition of therapeutic strategy is strongly advised.
Helen L Storr and Martin O Savage
Helen L Storr, Leo Dunkel, Julia Kowalczyk, Martin O Savage, and Louise A Metherell
Objective and design
GH insensitivity (GHI) encompasses growth failure, low serum IGF1 and normal/elevated serum GH. By contrast, IGF1 insensitivity results in pre- and postnatal growth failure associated with relatively high IGF1 levels. From 2008 to 2013, 72 patients from 68 families (45M), mean age 7.1 years (0.4–17.0) with short stature (mean height SDS −3.9; range −9.4 to −1.5), were referred for sequencing.
As a genetics referral centre, we have sequenced appropriate candidate genes (GHR, including its pseudoexon (6Ψ), STAT5B, IGFALS, IGF1, IGF1R, OBSL1, CUL7 and CCDC8) in subjects referred with suspected GHI (n=69) or IGF1 insensitivity (n=3).
Mean serum IGF1 SDS was −2.7 (range −0.9 to −8.2) in GHI patients and 2.0, 3.7 and 4.4 in patients with suspected IGF1 insensitivity. Out of 69 GHI patients, 16 (23%) (19% families) had mutations in GH–IGF1 axis genes: homozygous GHR (n=13; 6 6Ψ, two novel IVS5ds+1 G to A) and homozygous IGFALS (n=3; one novel c.1291delT). In the GHI groups, two homozygous OBSL1 mutations were also identified (height SDS −4.9 and −5.7) and two patients had hypomethylation in imprinting control region 1 in 11p15 or mUPD7 consistent with Silver–Russell syndrome (SRS) (height SDS −3.7 and −4.3). A novel heterozygous IGF1R (c.112G>A) mutation was identified in one out of three (33%) IGF1-insensitive subjects.
Genotyping contributed to the diagnosis of children with suspected GHI and IGF1 insensitivity, particularly in the GHI subjects with low serum IGF1 SDS (<−2.0) and height SDS (<−2.5). Diagnoses with similar phenotypes included SRS and 3-M syndrome. In 71% patients, no diagnosis was defined justifying further genetic investigation.
Lucy Shapiro, Sumana Chatterjee, Dina G Ramadan, Kate M Davies, Martin O Savage, Louise A Metherell, and Helen L Storr
GH insensitivity (GHI) is characterised by short stature, IGF-1 deficiency and normal/elevated serum GH. IGF-1 insensitivity results in pre- and post-natal growth failure with normal/high IGF-1 levels. The prevalence of genetic defects is unknown.
To identify the underlying genetic diagnoses in a paediatric cohort with GH or IGF-1 insensitivity using candidate gene (CGS) and whole-exome sequencing (WES) and assess factors associated with the discovery of a genetic defect.
We undertook a prospective study of 132 patients with short stature and suspected GH or IGF-1 insensitivity referred to our centre for genetic analysis. 107 (96 GHI, 88 probands; 11 IGF-1 insensitivity, 9 probands) underwent CGS. WES was performed in those with no defined genetic aetiology following CGS.
A genetic diagnosis was discovered 38/107 (36%) patients (32% probands) by CGS. WES revealed 11 patients with genetic variants in genes known to cause short stature. A further 2 patients had hypomethylation in the H19/IGF2 region or mUPD7 consistent with Silver–Russell Syndrome (total with genetic diagnosis 51/107, 48% or 41/97, 42% probands). WES also identified homozygous putative variants in FANCA and PHKB in 2 patients. Low height SDS and consanguinity were highly predictive for identifying a genetic defect.
Comprehensive genetic testing confirms the genetic heterogeneity of GH/IGF-1 insensitivity and successfully identified the genetic aetiology in a significant proportion of cases. WES is rapid and may isolate genetic variants that have been missed by traditional clinically driven genetic testing. This emphasises the benefits of specialist diagnostic centres.
Krystallenia I Alexandraki, Gregory A Kaltsas, Andrea M Isidori, Helen L Storr, Farhad Afshar, Ian Sabin, Scott A Akker, Shern L Chew, William M Drake, John P Monson, G Michael Besser, and Ashley B Grossman
To investigate the early and late outcomes of patients with Cushing's disease (CD) submitted to a neurosurgical procedure as first-line treatment.
In this single-centre retrospective case notes study, 131 patients with CD with a minimum follow-up period of 6 years (124 operated by transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) and seven by the transcranial approach) were studied. Apparent immediate cure: post-operative 0900 h serum cortisol level <50 nmol/l; remission: cortisol insufficiency or restoration of ‘normal’ cortisol levels with resolution of clinical features; and recurrence: dexamethasone resistance and relapse of hypercortisolaemic features.
In patients operated by TSS, remission of hypercortisolaemia was found in 72.8% of 103 microadenomas and 42.9% of 21 macroadenomas, with recurrence rates 22.7 and 33.3% respectively with a 15-year mean follow-up (range, 6–29 years). Of 27 patients with microadenomas operated after 1991, with positive imaging and pathology, 93% obtained remission with 12% recurrence. In multivariate analysis, the time needed to achieve recovery of hypothalamo-pituitary–adrenal axis was the only significant predictor of recurrence; all patients who recurred showed recovery within 3 years from surgery: 31.3% of patients had total hypophysectomy with no recurrence; 42% of patients with selective adenomectomy and 26.5% with hemi–hypophysectomy showed recurrence rates of 31 and 13% respectively (χ 2=6.275, P=0.03). Strict remission criteria were not superior in terms of the probability of recurrence compared with post-operative normocortisolaemia.
Lifelong follow-up for patients with CD appears essential, particularly for patients who have shown rapid recovery of their axis. The strict criteria previously used for ‘apparent cure’ do not appear to necessarily predict a lower recurrence rate.
Sumana Chatterjee, Lucy Shapiro, Stephen J Rose, Talat Mushtaq, Peter E Clayton, Svetlana B Ten, Amrit Bhangoo, Uma Kumbattae, Renuka Dias, Martin O Savage, Louise A Metherell, and Helen L Storr
Patients with homozygous intronic pseudoexon GH receptor (GHR) mutations (6Ψ) have growth hormone insensitivity (GHI) (growth failure, IGF1 deficiency and normal/elevated serum GH). We report 9 patients in addition to previously described 11 GHR 6Ψ patients and their responses to rhIGF1 therapy.
20 patients (12 males, 11 families, mean age 4.0 ± 2.2 years) were diagnosed genetically in our centre. Phenotypic data and responses to rhIGF1 treatment were provided by referring clinicians. Continuous parametric variables were compared using Student t-test or ANOVA.
10/20 (50%) had typical facial features of GHI, 19/20 (95%) from consanguineous families and 18/20 (90%) of Pakistani origin. At diagnosis, mean height SDS: −4.1 ± 0.95, IGF1 SDS: −2.8 ± 1.4; IGFBP3 SDS: −3.0 ± 2.1 and mean basal and peak GH levels: 11.9 µg/L and 32.9 µg/L, respectively. 1/12 who had IGF1 generation test, responded (IGF1: 132–255 ng/mL). 15/20 (75%; 11M) received rhIGF1 (mean dose: 114 µg/kg twice daily, mean duration: 5.3 ± 2.5 years). Mean baseline height velocity of 4.7 ± 1.1 cm/year increased to 7.4 ± 1.8 cm/year (P = 0.001) during year 1 of therapy. Year 3 mean height SDS (−3.2 ± 1.0) was higher than pre-treatment height SDS (−4.3 ± 0.8) (P = 0.03). Mean cumulative increase in height SDS after year 5 was 1.4 ± 0.9. Difference between target height (TH) SDS and adult or latest height SDS was less than that of TH SDS and pre-treatment height SDS (2.1 ± 1.2 vs 3.0 ± 0.8; P = 0.02).
In addition to phenotypic heterogeneity in the cohort, there was mismatch between clinical and biochemical features in individual patients with 6Ψ GHR mutations. rhIGF1 treatment improved height outcomes.
Helen L Storr, Farhad Afshar, Matthew Matson, Ian Sabin, Kate M Davies, Jane Evanson, P Nicholas Plowman, G Michael Besser, John P Monson, Ashley B Grossman, and Martin O Savage
Objective: Early diagnosis and effective treatment of paediatric Cushing’s disease (CD) is necessary to minimise associated morbidity. Accepted first-line treatment is selective transsphenoidal microadenomectomy (TSS), which can be technically difficult, and cure rates vary considerably between centres. In our paediatric CD patient group we have assessed the possible factors which may influence cure by TSS.
Subjects and methods: From 1983–2004, 27 paediatric patients (16 males, 11 females; mean age±s.d., 13.1±3.2 yr; range, 6.4–17.8 yr) with CD were managed in our centre and underwent TSS. Sixteen patients (59%), seven males and nine females (mean age±s.d., 14.2±2.5 yr; range, 8.2–17.8 yr), were cured (post-operative serum cortisol < 50 nM). Eleven patients, nine males and two females (mean age±s.d., 11.5±3.6 yr; range, 6.4–17.8 yr) had post-operative cortisol levels above 50 nM (2–20 days), with mean serum cortisol levels at 09:00 h of 537 nM (range 269–900 nM) indicating a lack of cure. These 11 patients received external beam pituitary radiotherapy (RT). One patient with a pituitary macroadenoma had a post-operative cortisol level of < 50 nM but 0.8 yr later showed an elevated cortisol and residual disease.
Results: The patients cured by TSS alone were significantly older than those not cured (P = 0.038; Student’s t test). All patients had CT/MRI pituitary imaging: 14 were reported to have microadenomas and one macroadenoma, while 12 were reported as normal. Bilateral simultaneous inferior petrosal sinus sampling (BSIPSS) with i.v. corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) administration was introduced as a pre-operative investigation in 1986 and was performed in 21 patients (78%), on BSIPSS, 16 (76%) had evidence suggesting pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion (central to peripheral (IPS:P) ACTH ratio after CRH of ≥ 3.0) and 16 (76%) showed lateralisation of ACTH secretion (IPSG of ≥ 1.4). There was concordance between the BSIPSS finding and the position of the microadenoma at surgery in 17/21 (81%) patients. Of the 16 patients showing lateralisation of ACTH secretion, 12 (75%) were cured by TSS. Of the four without lateralisation of ACTH, suggesting a midline lesion, 3 (75%) were cured by TSS. Post-operative pituitary hormone deficiencies in the patients cured by TSS were: pan-hypopituitarism 1/16, isolated growth hormone deficiency (GHD) (peak GH on glucagon/ITT < 1–17.9 mU/l) 9/16 and diabetes insipidus 3/16.
Conclusion: Over a 21-year period selective adenomectomy by TSS cured 59% of all paediatric CD patients, with higher age favouring cure. Introduction of BSIPSS resulted in the demonstration of a high rate of lateralisation of ACTH secretion consistent with the surgical identification of the adenoma, and therefore appears likely to have contributed to the higher surgical cure rate.
Emily Cottrell, Claudia P Cabrera, Miho Ishida, Sumana Chatterjee, James Greening, Neil Wright, Artur Bossowski, Leo Dunkel, Asma Deeb, Iman Al Basiri, Stephen J Rose, Avril Mason, Susan Bint, Joo Wook Ahn, Vivian Hwa, Louise A Metherell, Gudrun E Moore, and Helen L Storr
Copy number variation (CNV) has been associated with idiopathic short stature, small for gestational age and Silver-Russell syndrome (SRS). It has not been extensively investigated in growth hormone insensitivity (GHI; short stature, IGF-1 deficiency and normal/high GH) or previously in IGF-1 insensitivity (short stature, high/normal GH and IGF-1).
Design and methods
Array comparative genomic hybridisation was performed with ~60 000 probe oligonucleotide array in GHI (n = 53) and IGF-1 insensitivity (n = 10) subjects. Published literature, mouse models, DECIPHER CNV tracks, growth associated GWAS loci and pathway enrichment analyses were used to identify key biological pathways/novel candidate growth genes within the CNV regions.
Both cohorts were enriched for class 3–5 CNVs (7/53 (13%) GHI and 3/10 (30%) IGF-1 insensitivity patients). Interestingly, 6/10 (60%) CNV subjects had diagnostic/associated clinical features of SRS. 5/10 subjects (50%) had CNVs previously reported in suspected SRS: 1q21 (n = 2), 12q14 (n = 1) deletions and Xp22 (n = 1), Xq26 (n = 1) duplications. A novel 15q11 deletion, previously associated with growth failure but not SRS/GHI was identified. Bioinformatic analysis identified 45 novel candidate growth genes, 15 being associated with growth in GWAS. The WNT canonical pathway was enriched in the GHI cohort and CLOCK was identified as an upstream regulator in the IGF-1 insensitivity cohorts.
Our cohort was enriched for low frequency CNVs. Our study emphasises the importance of CNV testing in GHI and IGF-1 insensitivity patients, particularly GHI subjects with SRS features. Functional experimental evidence is now required to validate the novel candidate growth genes, interactions and biological pathways identified.