Clinical features, diagnosis, treatment and molecular studies in paediatric Cushing's syndrome due to primary nodular adrenocortical hyperplasia

Helen L Storr, J H Mitchell, F M Swords, K M Main, P C Hindmarsh, P R Betts, N J Shaw, D I Johnston, Adrian J L Clark, R H Reznek, A B Grossman, Martin O Savage

40 Citationer (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Primary nodular adrenocortical hyperplasia (PNAH) is a well recognized, but infrequently studied cause of paediatric Cushing's syndrome (CS).

OBJECTIVE: To assess presentation, diagnosis, radiological imaging, treatment and molecular analysis of patients with childhood-onset CS due to PNAH.

PATIENTS: Four males and two females (median age 12.9 years, range 10.9-16.9 years) were studied.

RESULTS: All had growth failure (mean height SDS -1.2; range -2.5-0.0), weight gain [mean body mass index (BMI) SDS 3.5; range 2.5-4.6] and clinical virilization, while five had hypertension [mean systolic blood pressure (SBP) 130 mmHg, diastolic blood pressure (DBP) 83 mmHg]. One patient had generalized lentigines, one had a tibial chondromyxomatous cyst and two had facial freckling. One patient had a family history of primary nodular adrenocortical disease. The diagnosis of CS was based on elevation of sleeping midnight serum cortisol and urinary free cortisol excretion, and impaired suppression of cortisol on both low- and high-dose dexamethasone suppression tests (DST). All patients had undetectable plasma ACTH with absent responses of both plasma ACTH and serum cortisol to an intravenous (i.v.) corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) test. Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging showed normal or small adrenals, with nodules in two patients. All patients underwent bilateral adrenalectomy, performed by open (n = 2) or laparoscopic surgery (n = 4) at a mean of 0.4 years (range 0.2-0.8 years) from diagnosis. Hypercortisolaemia was treated preoperatively by metyrapone alone 0.50-0.75 g/day (n = 4), metyrapone 0.75-1.50 g/day + o'p'DDD/mitotane 1-2 g/day (n = 1), or ketoconazole (n = 1). Adrenal histology showed nodular cortical hyperplasia with shrinkage of intervening cortical tissue and pigmentation, present in four patients. Molecular analysis of the type 1-alpha regulatory subunit of protein kinase A (PRKAR1A) gene revealed a novel germline mutation in one patient. Postadrenalectomy, three patients, had catch-up growth with height velocities increasing from 3.0, 3.9 and 2.5-8.9, 8.3 and 9.0 cm/years, respectively. All six are well at a follow-up (mean 4.0 years; range 0.5-10.8 years).

CONCLUSIONS: PNAH was associated with cushingoid features, virilization and hypertension with a lack of cortisol suppression on high DST, undetectable plasma ACTH and absent cortisol and ACTH responses to CRH. Adrenals were normal or small on imaging. PRKAR1A gene analysis may be helpful in the assessment of these patients.

TidsskriftClinical Endocrinology
Udgave nummer5
Sider (fra-til)553-9
Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2004


Dyk ned i forskningsemnerne om 'Clinical features, diagnosis, treatment and molecular studies in paediatric Cushing's syndrome due to primary nodular adrenocortical hyperplasia'. Sammen danner de et unikt fingeraftryk.