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Stuart A Morgan, Zaki K Hassan-Smith, and Gareth G Lavery

Glucocorticoids are widely prescribed for their anti-inflammatory properties, but have ‘Cushingoid’ side effects including visceral obesity, muscle myopathy, hypertension, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, and hepatic steatosis. These features are replicated in patients with much rarer endogenous glucocorticoid (GC) excess (Cushing’s syndrome), which has devastating consequences if left untreated. Current medical therapeutic options that reverse the tissue-specific consequences of hypercortisolism are limited. In this article, we review the current evidence that local GC metabolism via the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) plays a central role in mediating the adverse metabolic complications associated with circulatory GC excess – challenging our current view that simple delivery of active GCs from the circulation represents the most important mode of GC action. Furthermore, we explore the potential for targeting this enzyme as a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of both endogenous and exogenous Cushing’s syndrome.

Open access

Neil J Gittoes, Sherwin Criseno, Natasha M Appelman-Dijkstra, Jens Bollerslev, Ernesto Canalis, Lars Rejnmark, and Zaki Hassan-Smith

Endocrinologists have had to make rapid changes to services so that resources can be focused on the COVID-19 response to help prevent spread of the virus. Herein we provide pragmatic advice on the management of commonly encountered calcium metabolic problems and osteoporosis. Non-urgent elective appointments should be postponed, and remote consultations and digital health solutions promoted. Patients should be empowered to self-manage their conditions safely. Patients, their caregivers and healthcare providers should be directed to assured national or international online resources and specific patient groups. For patients in acute hospital settings, existing emergency guidance on the management of hyper- and hypo-calcaemia should be followed. An approach to osteoporosis management is outlined. IV zoledronic acid infusions can be delayed for 6–9 months during the pandemic. Patients established on denosumab, teriparatide and abaloparatide should continue planned therapy. In the event of supply issues with teriparatide or abaloparatide, pausing this treatment in the short term is likely to be relatively harmless, whereas delaying denosumab may cause an immediate increased risk of fracture. The challenge of this pandemic will act as a catalyst to innovate within our management of metabolic bone and mineral disorders to ensure best use of resources and resilience of healthcare systems in its aftermath.