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      Benign adrenal adenomas secreting excess mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids


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          Objective: To recognize that benign adrenal adenomas can co-secrete excess aldosterone and cortisol, which can change clinical management.

          Methods: We reviewed the clinical and histological features of an adrenal tumor co-secreting aldosterone and cortisol in a patient. Biochemical testing as well as postoperative immunohistochemistry was carried out on tissue samples for assessing enzymes involved in steroidogenesis.

          Results: A patient presented with hypertension, hypokalemia, and symptoms related to hypercortisolism. The case demonstrated suppressed renin concentrations with an elevated aldosterone:renin ratio, abnormal dexamethasone suppression test results, and elevated midnight salivary cortisol concentrations. The patient had a right adrenal nodule with autonomous cortisol production and interval growth. Right adrenalectomy was carried out. Postoperatively, the patient tolerated the surgery, but he was placed on a short course of steroid replacement given a subnormal postoperative serum cortisol concentration. Long-term follow-up of the patient showed that his blood pressure and glucose levels had improved. Histopathology slides showed positive staining for 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, 11β-hydroxylase, and 21 hydroxylase.

          Conclusion: In addition to the clinical manifestations and laboratory values, the presence of these enzymes in this type of tumor provides support that the tumor in this patient was able to produce mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids. The recognition of patients with a tumor that is co-secreting aldosterone and cortisol can affect decisions to treat with glucocorticoids perioperatively to avoid adrenal crisis.

          Learning points

          • Recognition of the presence of adrenal adenomas co-secreting mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids.

          • Consideration for perioperative and postoperative glucocorticoid use in the treatment of co-secreting adrenal adenomas.

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          Most cited references19

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          AME position statement on adrenal incidentaloma.

          To assess currently available evidence on adrenal incidentaloma and provide recommendations for clinical practice. A panel of experts (appointed by the Italian Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AME)) appraised the methodological quality of the relevant studies, summarized their results, and discussed the evidence reports to find consensus. Unenhanced computed tomography (CT) is recommended as the initial test with the use of an attenuation value of ≤10 Hounsfield units (HU) to differentiate between adenomas and non-adenomas. For tumors with a higher baseline attenuation value, we suggest considering delayed contrast-enhanced CT studies. Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET/CT should be considered when CT is inconclusive, whereas fine needle aspiration biopsy may be used only in selected cases suspicious of metastases (after biochemical exclusion of pheochromocytoma). HORMONAL ASSESSMENT: Pheochromocytoma and excessive overt cortisol should be ruled out in all patients, whereas primary aldosteronism has to be considered in hypertensive and/or hypokalemic patients. The 1 mg overnight dexamethasone suppression test is the test recommended for screening of subclinical Cushing's syndrome (SCS) with a threshold at 138 nmol/l for considering this condition. A value of 50 nmol/l virtually excludes SCS with an area of uncertainty between 50 and 138 nmol/l. Surgery is recommended for masses with suspicious radiological aspects and masses causing overt catecholamine or steroid excess. Data are insufficient to make firm recommendations for or against surgery in patients with SCS. However, adrenalectomy may be considered when an adequate medical therapy does not reach the treatment goals of associated diseases potentially linked to hypercortisolism.
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            Aldosterone- and cortisol-co-secreting adrenal tumors: the lost subtype of primary aldosteronism.

            Current guidelines suggest proving angiotensin-independent aldosterone secretion in patients with primary aldosteronism (PA). It is further recommended to demonstrate unilateral disease because of its consequence for therapy. A general screening for excess secretion of other hormones is not recommended. However, clinically relevant autonomous aldosterone production rarely originates in adrenal tumors, compromised of zona glomerulosa cells only. This article reviews published data on aldosterone- and cortisol-co-secreting tumors and shows that pre-operative diagnosis of such a lesion is beneficial for patients. Overt or subclinical glucocorticoid hypersecretion may interfere with diagnostic studies, e.g. adrenal venous sampling, screening of familial forms of PA on the basis of serum 18-hydroxy-cortisol (18-OH-F) determination, and provoke glucocorticoid deficiency after surgical removal of the tumor. In addition, knowledge from histological and molecular studies in patients with aldosterone- and cortisol-co-secreting tumors challenges some concepts of the development of adrenal autonomy. The presence of an aldosterone- and cortisol-co-secreting adrenocortical tumor should be considered if a patient has i) PA and an adenoma that is larger than 2.5 cm, ii) cortisol that is non-suppressible with overnight low-dose dexamethasone, or iii) grossly elevated serum levels of hybrid steroids, such as 18-OH-F.
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              Clinicopathological features of primary aldosteronism associated with subclinical Cushing's syndrome.

              Primary aldosteronism (PA), an autonomous aldosterone hypersecretion from adrenal adenoma and/or hyperplasia, and subclinical Cushing syndrome (SCS), a mild but autonomous cortisol hypersecretion from adrenal adenoma without signs or symptoms of Cuhing's syndrome, are now well-recognized clinical entities of adrenal incidentaloma. However, the clinicopathological features of PA associated with SCS (PA/SCS) remain unknown. The present study was undertaken to study the prevalence of PA/SCS among PA patients diagnosed at our institute, and characterize their clinicopathlogical features. The prevalence of PA/SCS was 8 of 38 PA patients (21%) studied. These 8 PA/SCS patients were significantly older and had larger tumor, higher serum potassium levels, lower basal plasma levels of aldosterone, ACTH and DHEA-S as well as lower response of aldosterone after ACTH stimulation than those in 12 patients with aldosterone-producing adenoma without hypercortisolism. All 8 PA/SCS patients showed unilateral uptake by adrenal scintigraphy at the ipsilateral side, whereas the laterality of aldosterone hypersecretion as determined by adrenal venous sampling varied from ipsilateral (3), contralateral (2), and bilateral side (2). 6 PA/SCS patinets who underwent adrenalectomy required hydrocortisone replacement postoperatively. Histopathological analysis of the resected adrenal tumors from 5 PA/SCS patients revealed a single adenoma in 3, and double adenomas in 2, with varying degrees of positive immunoreactivities for steroidgenic enzymes (3β-HSD, P450(C17)) by immunohistochemical study as well as CYP11B2 mRNA expression as measured by real-time RT-PCR. In conclusion, PA/SCS consists of a variety of adrenal pathologies so that therapeutic approach differs depending on the disease subtype. ©The Japan Endocrine Society

                Author and article information

                Endocrinol Diabetes Metab Case Rep
                Endocrinol Diabetes Metab Case Rep
                EDM Case Reports
                Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism Case Reports
                Bioscientifica Ltd (Bristol )
                23 September 2013
                : 2013
                : 130042
                [1]Department of Internal Medicine/Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism VA North Texas Health Care System and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, Texas, 75390-8857USA
                [1 ]Department of Pathology Tohoku University School of Medicine and Hospital at Sendai SendaiJapan
                [2 ]Department of Pathology University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, TexasUSA
                [3 ]Department of Surgery University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, TexasUSA
                [4 ]Department of Internal Medicine/Division of Metabolism Endocrinology and Diabetes University of Michigan Health System Ann Arbor, MichiganUSA
                Author notes
                Correspondence should be addressed to H K Ghayee Email: Hans.Ghayee@ 123456UTSouthwestern.edu
                © 2013 The Authors

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

                : 3 September 2013
                : 9 September 2013
                Unique/Unexpected Symptoms or Presentations of a Disease


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