Differentiating between Cushing's disease and pseudo-Cushing's syndrome: comparison of four tests

RA Alwani, LW Schmit Jongbloed, Frank Jong, AJ (Aart-Jan) van der Lely, W.W. de Herder, R.A. Feelders

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Objective: To evaluate the diagnostic performance of four different tests in order to differentiate between Cushing's disease ( CD) and pseudo-Cushing's syndrome ( PCS). Methods: In this prospective study, a total of 73 patients with clinical features of hypercortisolism and insufficient suppression of serum cortisol after 1 mg overnight dexamethasone and/ or an elevated excretion of cortisol in 24-h urine samples were included. The circadian rhythm of serum cortisol levels as well as midnight serum cortisol (MserC) levels were assessed in all 73 patients. Late-night salivary cortisol (LNSC) concentrations were obtained in 44 patients. The dexamethasone-CRH (Dex-CRH) test was performed in 54 patients. Results: Fifty-three patients were diagnosed with CD and subsequently treated. Twenty patients were classified as having PSC. Serum cortisol circadian rhythm: the diurnal rhythmicity of cortisol secretion was retained in PCS. A cortisol midnight: morning ratio of > 0.67 is highly suggestive of CD ( positive predictive value (PPV) 100% and negative predictive value (NPV) 73%). MserC concentration > 243 nmol/ l has a PPV of 98% in predicting true CD ( NPV 95%). LNSC level > 9.3 nmol/ l predicted CD in 94% of patients (NPV 100%). Dex-CRH test: after 2 days of dexamethasone suppression, a CRH-stimulated cortisol level > 87 nmol/ l ( T=15 min) resulted in a PPV of 100% and an NPV of 90%. Conclusion: The Dex-CRH test as well as a single measurement of cortisol in serum or saliva at late (mid-) night demonstrated high diagnostic accuracy in differentiating PCS from true CD.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)477-486
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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