The Medical Treatment of Cushing's Disease: Effectiveness of Chronic Treatment with the Dopamine Agonist Cabergoline in Patients Unsuccessfully Treated by Surgery

R Pivonello, Cristina Martino, P Cappabianca, M De Leo, A Faggiano, G Lombardi, Leo Hofland, S.W.J. Lamberts, A Colao

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Background: The role of dopamine agonists in the treatment of Cushing's disease (CD) has been previously debated. Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of short-term (3 months) and long-term (12-24 months) treatment with cabergoline in patients with CD. Patients and Methods: 20 patients with CD unsuccessfully treated by surgery entered the study. Cabergoline was administered at an initial dose of 1 mg/wk, with a monthly increase of 1 mg, until urinary cortisol levels normalized or the maximal dose of 7mg/wk was achieved. The responsiveness to treatment was evaluated according to changes in urinary cortisol excretion. A decrease greater than 25% was considered as a partial response, whereas complete normalization was considered as a full response at short-term evaluation; persistence of normal cortisol excretion was the only criterion to evaluate the response at long-term evaluation. Results: After short-term treatment, 15 (75%) patients were responsive to cabergoline treatment. Among these, normalization of cortisol excretion was maintained in 10, whereas treatment escape was observed in five patients after 6-18 months. Among the 10 long-term responsive patients, eight were followed for 24 months, whereas the remaining two were followed for 12-18 months, due to cabergoline withdrawal for intolerance. A sustained control of cortisol secretion for 24 month cabergoline treatment at the maximal dose ranging from 1-7 mg/wk (median: 3.5) without significant side effects, was obtained in eight of 20 (40%) patients. Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrated that cabergoline treatment is effective in controlling cortisol secretion for at least 1-2 yr in more than one third of a limited population of patients with CD. If this evidence is confirmed by additional studies, this agent may be considered as a useful treatment option in patients with CD who are unsuccessfully treated by neurosurgery. (J Clin Endocrinol Metab 94: 223-230, 2009)
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)223-230
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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