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      Use of the Low-Dose Corticotropin Stimulation Test for the Monitoring of Children with Asthma Treated with Inhaled Corticosteroids

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          Objective: Subnormal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function and rare cases of adrenal crisis have been reported in asthmatic children treated with inhaled corticosteroids. We investigated subnormal HPA activity and followed up affected patients until recovery of normal HPA functions. Study Design: 100 children with persistent asthma underwent low-dose corticotropin testing, with the administration of 1 µg of 1–24 ACTH intravenously. Treatments were beclomethasone dipropionate as a metered-dose inhaler, n = 14, budesonide as a dry-powder inhaler, n = 16, fluticasone propionate as a metered-dose inhaler n = 31 or a dry-powder inhaler n = 39. The mean commercially labelled dose was 520 ± 29 µg/day (mean ± SEM, range: 160–1,000) and the equipotent dose (which compares the efficiency of these drugs for treating asthma and their responsibility for systemic effects) was 890 ± 55 µg/day (range: 200–2,000). Results: The mean stimulated cortisol level ± SEM (and range) of the patient was 482 ± 12 (148–801), and that of 40 age-matched controls was 580 ± 12.5 (439–726), (SD = 79). The result was subnormal (more than 2 SD below the mean of the controls) in28 of the 100 patients. One–four stepwise decreases of 10–100% in the daily equipotent doses received by the patients with abnormal low-dose corticotropin testing results led to normal results in subsequent low-dose corticotropin testing in 27 retested patients. The mean time interval between two tests was 5 months (range: 2–6 months) and the mean period required for normalization of the test was 13 months (range: 2–21). Only one case of asthma exacerbation and no adrenal crisis were observed over these periods. Conclusions: Decreasing daily equipotent doses led to recovery of normal HPA function without asthma exacerbation. Thus, a revision of the doses of inhaled corticosteroids used in asthmatic children with a progressive decrease to the consensus-recommended doses should decrease the systemic effects of inhaled corticosteroids, while minimizing the risk of asthma exacerbation.

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          Most cited references 38

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          Effect of long-term treatment with inhaled budesonide on adult height in children with asthma.

          Short-term studies have shown that inhaled corticosteroids may reduce the growth of children with asthma. However, the effect of long-term treatment on adult height is uncertain. We conducted a prospective study in children with asthma to examine the effect of long-term treatment with inhaled budesonide on adult height. We report on 211 children who have attained adult height: 142 budesonide-treated children with asthma, 18 control patients with asthma who have never received inhaled corticosteroids, and 51 healthy siblings of patients in the budesonide group, who also served as controls. The children in the budesonide group attained adult height after a mean of 9.2 years of budesonide treatment (range, 3 to 13) at a mean daily dose of 412 microg (range, 110 to 877). The mean cumulative dose of budesonide was 1.35 g (range, 0.41 to 3.99). The mean differences between the measured and target adult heights were +0.3 cm (95 percent confidence interval, -0.6 to + 1.2) for the budesonide-treated children, -0.2 cm (95 percent confidence interval, -2.4 to +2.1) for the control children with asthma, and +0.9 cm (95 percent confidence interval, -0.4 to +2.2) for the healthy siblings. The adult height depended significantly (P<0.001) on the child's height before budesonide treatment. Although growth rates were significantly reduced during the first years of budesonide treatment, these changes in growth rate were not significantly associated with adult height. Children with asthma who have received long-term treatment with budesonide attain normal adult height.
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            Survey of adrenal crisis associated with inhaled corticosteroids in the United Kingdom.

            Until recently, only two cases of acute adrenal crisis associated with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) had been reported worldwide. We identified four additional cases and sought to survey the frequency of this side effect in the United Kingdom. Questionnaires were sent to all consultant paediatricians and adult endocrinologists registered in a UK medical directory, asking whether they had encountered asthmatic patients with acute adrenal crisis associated with ICS. Those responding positively completed a more detailed questionnaire. Diagnosis was confirmed by symptoms/signs and abnormal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function test results. From an initial 2912 questionnaires, 33 patients met the diagnostic criteria (28 children, five adults). Twenty-three children had acute hypoglycaemia (13 with decreased levels of consciousness or coma; nine with coma and convulsions; one with coma, convulsions and death); five had insidious onset of symptoms. Four adults had insidious onset of symptoms; one had hypoglycaemia and convulsions. Of the 33 patients treated with 500-2000 micro g/day ICS, 30 (91%) had received fluticasone, one (3%) fluticasone and budesonide, and two (6%) beclomethasone. The frequency of acute adrenal crisis was greater than expected as the majority of these patients were treated with ICS doses supported by British Guidelines on Asthma Management. Despite being the least prescribed and most recently introduced ICS, fluticasone was associated with 94% of the cases. We therefore advise that the licensed dosage of fluticasone for children, 400 micro g/day, should not be exceeded unless the patient is being supervised by a physician with experience in problematic asthma. We would also emphasise that until adrenal function has been assessed patients receiving high dose ICS should not have this therapy abruptly terminated as this could precipitate adrenal crisis.
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              Adrenocorticotropin stimulation test: effects of basal cortisol level, time of day, and suggested new sensitive low dose test.

              Adrenal response to iv administration of 1-24 ACTH (250 micrograms) was examined in normal volunteers under various conditions. The effect of basal cortisol levels was examined by performing the tests at 0800 h with and without pretreatment with dexamethasone. The effect of time of day was evaluated by performing the tests at 0800 h and at 1600 h, eliminating possible basal cortisol influence by pretreatment with dexamethasone. In the first set of tests, despite significantly different baseline levels, 30-min cortisol levels were not different (618 +/- 50 vs. 590 +/- 52 nmol/L). Afternoon cortisol levels in response to ACTH were found to be significantly higher than morning levels at 5 min (254 +/- 50 vs. 144 +/- 36 nmol/L, p less than 0.01) and at 15 min (541 +/- 61 vs. 433 +/- 52 nmol/L, p less than 0.02). This difference in response was no longer notable at 30 min (629 +/- 52 and 591 +/- 52 nmol/L). We tried also to determine the lowest ACTH dose which will elicit a maximal cortisol response. No difference was found in cortisol levels at 30 and 60 min in response to 250 and 5 micrograms 1-24 ACTH. Using 1 micrograms ACTH, the 30-min response did not differ from that to 250 micrograms (704 +/- 72 vs. 718 +/- 55 nmol/L, respectively). However, the 60-min response to 1 microgram was significantly lower (549 +/- 61 vs. 842 +/- 110 nmol/L, p less than 0.01). Using this low dose ACTH test (1 microgram, measuring 30-min cortisol level), we were able to develop a much more sensitive ACTH test, which enabled us to differentiate a subgroup of patients on long-term steroid treatment who responded normally to the regular 250 micrograms test, but had a reduced response to 1 microgram. The stability of 1-24 ACTH in saline solution, kept at 4 C, was checked. ACTH was found to be fully stable after 2 hs in a concentration of 5 micrograms/ml in glass tube and 0.5 micrograms/ml in plastic tube. It was also found to be fully stable, both immunologically and biologically, for 4 months, under these conditions. We conclude that the 30-min cortisol response to ACTH is constant, unrelated to basal cortisol level or time of day. It is therefore the best criterion for measuring adrenal response in the short ACTH test. The higher afternoon responses at 5 and 15 min suggest greater adrenal sensitivity in the afternoon, but further studies are needed to clarify this issue.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

                Author and article information

                Horm Res Paediatr
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                July 2006
                26 July 2006
                : 66
                : 2
                : 51-60
                aLaboratoire d’Explorations Fonctionnelles Endocriniennes and bService de Pneumologie et Allergologie Clinique, Hôpital Armand Trousseau (APHP), Paris, France
                93468 Horm Res 2006;66:51–60
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 3, References: 49, Pages: 10
                Original Paper


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