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Cushing’s disease

Frederic Castinetti*, Isabelle Morange, Bernard Conte-Devolx and Thierry Brue*

Author Affiliations

Department of Endocrinology and Reference Center for Rare Pituitary Diseases La Timone Hospital, Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France

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Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2012, 7:41  doi:10.1186/1750-1172-7-41

Published: 18 June 2012


Cushing’s disease, or pituitary ACTH dependent Cushing’s syndrome, is a rare disease responsible for increased morbidity and mortality. Signs and symptoms of hypercortisolism are usually non specific: obesity, signs of protein wasting, increased blood pressure, variable levels of hirsutism. Diagnosis is frequently difficult, and requires a strict algorithm. First-line treatment is based on transsphenoidal surgery, which cures 80% of ACTH-secreting microadenomas. The rate of remission is lower in macroadenomas. Other therapeutic modalities including anticortisolic drugs, radiation techniques or bilateral adrenalectomy will thus be necessary to avoid long-term risks (metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease) of hypercortisolism. This review summarizes potential pathophysiological mechanisms, diagnostic approaches, and therapies.