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MC Vantyghem, N Ronci, F Provost, A Ghulam, J Lefebvre, X Jeunemaitre and A Tabarin

Normotensive primary hyperaldosteronism is exceedingly rare. We report two new cases of this syndrome in two middle-aged women, one of Asian origin. The presenting signs were tetany in one case and an adrenal mass in the other. Neither patient had hypertension, despite repeated measurements with a manual armlet. A typical biological profile of primary hyperaldosteronism was demonstrated in both patients, including hypokalemia with inappropriate kaliuresis, elevated resting plasma aldosterone, and undetectable plasma renin activity. The circadian rhythm of blood pressure was studied by ambulatory monitoring pre- and post-operatively. It confirmed the lack of hypertension, but the circadian rhythm of blood pressure was lost before surgery in one patient. Surgical removal of the histologically typical aldosterone-producing adenomas normalized the kalemia. The main finding in these two patients was spontaneously low blood pressure in the post-operative period. This suggests that excess aldosterone induced relative hypertension in these patients whose blood pressure was spontaneously very low. Genetic screening for dexamethasone-sensitive hyperaldosteronism was negative in both patients.

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N Valli, B Catargi, N Ronci, V Vergnot, F Leccia, JM Ferriere, G Chene, N Grenier, F Laurent and A Tabarin

OBJECTIVE: Biochemistry and I-6beta-iodomethyl norcholesterol scintigraphy (IMS) have both been used to assess cortisol secretion by adrenocortical incidentalomas. However, which biochemical abnormalities indicate subclinical corticoid excess is still debatable whilst IMS is expensive and cumbersome. The aim of the study was to evaluate prospectively patients with adrenal incidentalomas using both IMS and biochemical methods to examine whether the IMS pattern is associated with biochemical abnormalities and, if this is so, to find a biochemical parameter that could be used as a screening test to identify a subset of patients on whom IMS could subsequently be performed. METHODS: Thirty-one patients with benign cortical adenomas were recruited from 43 consecutive patients with adrenal incidentalomas. All 31 patients underwent IMS and measurement of (i) 0800 h serum cortisol, ACTH, dehydroepiandrosterone and 17-hydroxyprogesterone; (ii) midnight serum cortisol; (iii) 2400 h excretion of urinary free cortisol; (iv) cortisol after the overnight 1 mg dexamethasone (DEX) suppression test; (v) cortisol after an i.v. 4 mg DEX test; (vi) determination of the diurnal variation in serum cortisol. RESULTS: Sixty-one per cent of patients displayed unilateral uptake during IMS and 39% showed bilateral uptake. Patients with unilateral uptake exhibited significantly lower ACTH concentrations (P=0.0005), higher midnight cortisol concentrations (P=0.02), disrupted diurnal variation of serum cortisol (P=0.02) and higher cortisol concentrations after DEX suppression tests (P=0.01). Cortisol concentrations following the two DEX suppression tests correlated closely (r=0.80, P=0.0001). The i.v. 4 mg DEX test was clearly more sensitive for the diagnosis of unilateral uptake than the overnight 1 mg DEX test (76 vs 52%). Using various thresholds of cortisol concentration following the overnight 1 mg DEX test, it was found that the sensitivity of the test could be improved to 100% if the threshold was set at 60 nmol/l rather than the classical value of 138 nmol/l. All patients but one with post-test serum cortisol concentrations above 60 nmol/l as against none of patients with cortisol below 60 nmol/l exhibited at least one associated biochemical abnormality indicating subclinical glucocorticoid excess. CONCLUSION: In adrenocortical incidentalomas, unilateral uptake during IMS suggests subclinically excessive and/or autonomous cortisol secretion. A cortisol concentration above 60 nmol/l following the overnight 1 mg DEX test is highly correlated with unilateral uptake and is associated with biochemical abnormalities indicating subclinical glucocorticoid excess. Our results favour the use of the 1 mg overnight DEX test with revised criteria of interpretation as a screening test for subclinical hypercortisolism among patients with adrenocortical incidentalomas.

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P Petrossians, N Ronci, H Valdes Socin, A Kalife, A Stevenaert, B Bloch, A Tabarin and A Beckers

OBJECTIVES: The authors present a case report that proposes the use of cabergoline treatment in silent ACTH adenoma, an unusual member of the heterogeneous group of the so-called clinically non-functioning pituitary adenomas. DESIGN: Following the clinical and radiological improvement of a recurrent silent ACTH adenoma in a 77-year-old patient treated with cabergoline (0.5 mg every 2 days for 2 years), in vitro studies of the original tumor were performed. METHODS: The original tumor from the patient was studied by in situ hybridization and dopamine D2 receptor autoradiography. It was compared with four macroprolactinomas and two macroadenomas from patients with Cushing's disease. RESULTS: The D2 receptor mRNA signal of the reported case was intense and of the same order of magnitude as that observed in control prolactinomas. Dopamine D2 receptor autoradiography was twice that of control corticotroph adenomas and was close to that observed in prolactinomas. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first description of an in vivo shrinkage of an ACTH silent adenoma under cabergoline. We demonstrate in vitro, the presence of D2 receptors in the primitive tumor in concentrations similar to those found in control prolactinomas. These results suggest that therapeutic trials with cabergoline might be undertaken in recurring cases of ACTH silent tumors and more generally, non-functioning pituitary adenomas.