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Lucy-Ann Behan, Grainne Kelleher, Mark J Hannon, Jennifer J Brady, Bairbre Rogers, William Tormey, D Smith, Christopher J Thompson, Malachi J McKenna, and Amar Agha


Glucocorticoid (GC) therapy is associated with adverse effects on bone metabolism, yet the effects of different GC physiological replacement regimens in hypopituitarism are not well characterised. We aimed to assess the effect of three hydrocortisone (HC) replacement dose regimens on bone turnover.

Study design

An open cross-over study randomising ten hypopituitary men with severe ACTH deficiency to three commonly used HC dose regimens: dose A (20 mg mane and 10 mg tarde), dose B (10 mg mane and 10 mg tarde) and dose C (10 mg mane and 5 mg tarde).


Following 6 weeks of each regimen, the participants underwent 24-h serum cortisol sampling and measurement of bone turnover markers: bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, procollagen type I N-propeptide (PINP), intact osteocalcin (OC(1–49)), C-terminal cross-linking telopeptide (CTX-I) and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase 5b (TRACP5b). Bone remodelling balance was estimated as an absolute ratio (PINP:CTX-I) and as an index using standardised scores derived from the matched controls.


There were significant increases in the concentrations of the formation markers PINP (P=0.045) and OC(1–49) (P=0.006) and in the PINP:CTX-I ratio (P=0.015), and a more positive bone remodelling balance index (P=0.03) was observed in patients on the lowest dose C than in those on the highest dose A. Mean 24-h cortisol concentrations correlated negatively with CTX-I (r=−0.66 and P=0.04) and TRACP5b (r=−0.74 and P=0.01) in patients on dose B and with OC(1–49) (r=−0.66 and P=0.04) and CTX-I (r=−0.81 and P<0.01) in patients on dose C. In patients receiving the lower-dose regimen, trough cortisol concentrations correlated with increased bone formation and resorption.


Low-dose HC replacement (10 mg mane and 5 mg tarde) is associated with increased bone formation and a positive bone remodelling balance. This may have a long-term beneficial effect on bone health.

Free access

Lucy-Ann Behan, David Carmody, Bairbre Rogers, Mark J Hannon, Colin Davenport, William Tormey, Diarmuid Smith, Christopher J Thompson, Alice Stanton, and Amar Agha


Increased cardiovascular and cerebrovascular morbidity and mortality in hypopituitary subjects may be linked to inappropriate glucocorticoid exposure; however, the pathophysiology remains unclear. We aimed to examine the effect of three commonly prescribed hydrocortisone (HC) regimens on vascular risk factors.


An open crossover study randomising ten hypopituitary men with severe adrenocorticotrophic hormone deficiency to three HC dose regimens: dose A (20mg mane and 10mg tarde), dose B (10mg mane and 10mg tarde) and dose C (10mg mane and 5mg tarde).


Following 6 weeks on each regimen, participants underwent 24-h serum cortisol sampling, 24-h ambulatory blood pressure (BP) measurements, calculation of the Ambulatory Arterial Stiffness Index (AASI), oral glucose tolerance testing and fasting serum osteoprotegerin (OPG) sampling.


There were no differences in 24-h BP between dose regimens and controls; however, low-dose HC replacement (dose C) was associated with the lowest AASI, indicating a less stiff arterial tree (P<0.05) compared with the other dose regimens. Loss of the physiologic nocturnal BP dip was more common in higher HC replacement regimens, although only significant for dose B compared with dose C (P=0.03). Twenty per cent of patients had abnormal glucose tolerance, but this was unrelated to dose regimen. OPG correlated strongly with 24-h BP in those on dose A only (r=0.65, P=0.04).


Currently prescribed HC replacement doses do not result in significant differences in absolute BP levels or improvements in insulin sensitivity. However, lower HC doses may result in lower arterial stiffness and a more physiological nocturnal BP dip. Long-term studies are required to confirm these findings and evaluate their impact on vascular morbidity in this patient group.

Free access

Mark Sherlock, Lucy Ann Behan, Mark J Hannon, Aurora Aragon Alonso, Christopher J Thompson, Robert D Murray, Nicola Crabtree, Beverly A Hughes, Wiebke Arlt, Amar Agha, Andrew A Toogood, and Paul M Stewart


Patients with hypopituitarism have increased morbidity and mortality. There is ongoing debate about the optimum glucocorticoid (GC) replacement therapy.


To assess the effect of GC replacement in hypopituitarism on corticosteroid metabolism and its impact on body composition.

Design and patients

We assessed the urinary corticosteroid metabolite profile (using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) and body composition (clinical parameters and full body DXA) of 53 patients (19 female, median age 46 years) with hypopituitarism (33 ACTH-deficient/20 ACTH-replete) (study A). The corticosteroid metabolite profile of ten patients with ACTH deficiency was then assessed prospectively in a cross over study using three hydrocortisone (HC) dosing regimens (20/10 mg, 10/10 mg and 10/5 mg) (study B) each for 6 weeks. 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (11β-HSD1) activity was assessed by urinary THF+5α-THF/THE.


Endocrine Centres within University Teaching Hospitals in the UK and Ireland.

Main outcome measures

Urinary corticosteroid metabolite profile and body composition assessment.


In study A, when patients were divided into three groups – patients not receiving HC and patients receiving HC≤20 mg/day or HC>20 mg/day – patients in the group receiving the highest daily dose of HC had significantly higher waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) than the ACTH replete group. They also had significantly elevated THF+5α-THF/THE (P=0.0002) and total cortisol metabolites (P=0.015). In study B, patients on the highest HC dose had significantly elevated total cortisol metabolites and all patients on HC had elevated THF+5α-THF/THE ratios when compared to controls.


In ACTH-deficient patients daily HC doses of >20 mg/day have increased WHR, THF+5α-THF/THE ratios and total cortisol metabolites. GC metabolism and induction of 11β-HSD1 may play a pivitol role in the development of the metabolically adverse hypopituitary phenotype.

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Rosemary Dineen, Julie Martin-Grace, Khalid Mohamed Saeed Ahmed, Isolda Frizelle, Anjuli Gunness, Aoife Garrahy, Anne Marie Hannon, Michael W O’Reilly, Diarmuid Smith, John McDermott, Marie-Louise Healy, Amar Agha, Agnieszka Pazderska, James Gibney, Chris J Thompson, Lucy-Ann Behan, and Mark Sherlock


Adrenal insufficiency (AI) is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and reduced quality of life (QoL). Optimum glucocorticoid (GC) dosing and timing are crucial in the treatment of AI, yet the natural circadian secretion of cortisol is difficult to mimic. The once-daily dual-release hydrocortisone (DR-HC) preparation (Plenadren®), offers a more physiological cortisol profile and may address unmet needs.


An investigator-initiated, prospective, cross-over study in patients with AI. Following baseline assessment of cardiometabolic risk factors and QoL, patients switched from their usual hydrocortisone regimen to a once-daily dose equivalent of DR-HC and were reassessed after 12 weeks of treatment.


Fifty-one patients (21 PAI/30 SAI) completed the study. Mean age was 41.6 years (s.d. 13), and 58% (n = 30) were male. The median daily HC dose before study entry was 20 mg (IQR 15–20 mg). After 3 months on DR-HC, the mean SBP decreased by 5.7 mmHg, P = 0.0019 and DBP decreased by 4.5 mmHg, P = 0.0011. There was also a significant reduction in mean body weight (−1.23 kg, P = 0.006) and BMI (−0.3 kg/m2, P = 0.003). In a sub-analysis, there was a greater reduction in SBP observed in patients with SAI when compared to PAI post-DR-HC. Patients reported significant improvements in QoL using three validated QoL questionnaires, with a greater improvement in PAI.


Dual-release hydrocortisone decreases BP, weight and BMI compared with conventional HC treatment, even at physiological GC replacement doses. Additionally, DR-HC confers significant improvements in QoL compared to immediate-release HC, particularly in patients with PAI, which is also reflected in the patient preference for DR-HC.