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Conventional glucocorticoid replacement overtreats adult hypopituitary patients with partial ACTH deficiency

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Summary background 

Glucocorticoid therapy is associated with potentially serious side-effects, but there is no information available regarding glucocorticoid requirement in adult hypopituitary patients with partial ACTH deficiency. subjects 

Ten male adult hypopituitary patients with partial ACTH deficiency, baseline plasma cortisol > 200 nmol/l but a peak stimulated cortisol < 500 nmol/l and 10 matched healthy male control volunteers participated. design 

Patients were assigned, in a random order, to a cross-over protocol of treatment for 1 week with full dose hydrocortisone (10 mg twice daily), half-dose hydrocortisone (5 mg twice daily), or no treatment. All patients completed all three of the treatment limbs. measurements 

Following each treatment schedule, patients underwent an 11-h cortisol day curve (CDC), and the results were compared with those from the 10 control volunteers on no glucocorticoid treatment. results 

The integrated CDC values were significantly higher in patients taking a full dose of hydrocortisone compared to controls (P < 0·001). There was no significant difference in the integrated CDC between patients on half-dose (P = 0·37) or no hydrocortisone treatment (P = 0·13), compared to control subjects. Peak postabsorption cortisol values were higher in patients receiving full-dose hydrocortisone treatment compared to controls (P < 0·001). There was no significant difference in plasma sodium concentration, blood pressure or corticosteroid-binding globulin between patients on any treatment schedule and controls. conclusion 

Adult patients with pituitary disease and partial ACTH deficiency have a cortisol secretory pattern comparable to that of healthy controls. Conventional full-dose replacement with 10 mg twice daily of hydrocortisone produces hypercortisolaemia, whereas half-dose produces a CDC that is not statistically different from that of healthy controls. The results suggest that current conventional glucocorticoid replacement overtreats patients with partial ACTH deficiency under normal unstressed physiological conditions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Endocrinology and 2: Department of Community Health, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland 3: Chemical Pathology Beaumont Hospital and

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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