Systemic therapy of Cushing's syndrome

Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
Niels EcksteinVladlena Pfeifer


Cushing's disease (CD) in a stricter sense derives from pathologic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion usually triggered by micro- or macroadenoma of the pituitary gland. It is, thus, a form of secondary hypercortisolism. In contrast, Cushing's syndrome (CS) describes the complexity of clinical consequences triggered by excessive cortisol blood levels over extended periods of time irrespective of their origin. CS is a rare disease according to the European orphan regulation affecting not more than 5/10,000 persons in Europe. CD most commonly affects adults aged 20-50 years with a marked female preponderance (1:5 ratio of male vs. female). Patient presentation and clinical symptoms substantially vary depending on duration and plasma levels of cortisol. In 80% of cases CS is ACTH-dependent and in 20% of cases it is ACTH-independent, respectively. Endogenous CS usually is a result of a pituitary tumor. Clinical manifestation of CS, apart from corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH-), ACTH-, and cortisol-producing (malign and benign) tumors may also be by exogenous glucocorticoid intake. Diagnosis of hypercortisolism (irrespective of its origin) comprises the following: Complete blood count including serum electrolytes, bloo...Continue Reading


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Adrenal Cortex Hormones
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