Children experience cognitive decline despite reversal of brain atrophy one year after resolution of Cushing syndrome

Pediatric and Reproductive Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1932, USA.
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology &amp Metabolism (Impact Factor: 6.31). 05/2005; 90(5):2531-6. DOI: 10.1210/jc.2004-2488
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Adults with Cushing syndrome frequently develop brain atrophy, memory impairment, and depression, with partial to complete resolution after cure. The effect of excess glucocorticoid exposure on the brain of children has not been systematically studied. Eleven children (six girls, five boys; ages, 8-16 yr) with endogenous Cushing syndrome seen at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center from 1999-2000 and 10 healthy age- and sex-matched control subjects were studied. Cognitive and psychological evaluations and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain were done before and 1 yr after cure for patients with Cushing syndrome and once for controls. The estimated duration of Cushing syndrome was 4.4 +/- 1.2 yr. When compared with control subjects, children with Cushing syndrome had significantly smaller cerebral volumes (P < 0.001), larger ventricles (P = 0.02), and smaller amygdala (P = 0.004). At baseline, there were no significant differences in IQ between the two groups, and no psychopathology was identified. Despite reversal of cerebral atrophy 1 yr after surgical cure (total cerebral volume, 947 +/- 94 vs.1050 +/- 74 ml, P < 0.001; ventricular volume, 21.4 +/- 12.5 vs. 14.5 +/- 11.6 ml, P < 0.001), children with Cushing syndrome experienced a significant (P < 0.05) decline in Wechsler IQ scores (Full Scale, 112 +/- 19 vs. 98 +/- 14) and a decline in school performance, without any associated psychopathology. The effect of glucocorticoid excess on the brain of children appears to be different from adults. Despite rapid reversibility of cerebral atrophy, children experience a significant decline in cognitive function 1 yr after correction of hypercortisolism.


Available from: Jay N Giedd, May 28, 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Endogenous Cushing's syndrome (CS), a rare endocrine disorder characterized by cortisol hypersecretion, is associated with psychiatric and neurocognitive disorders. Major depression, mania, anxiety, and neurocognitive impairment are the most important clinical abnormalities. Moreover, patients most often complain of impairment in quality of life, interference with family life, social, and work performance. Surprisingly, after hypercortisolism resolution, despite the improvement of the overall prevalence of psychiatric and neurocognitive disorders, the brain volume loss at least partially persists and it should be noted that some patients may still display depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and neurocognitive impairment. This brief review aimed at describing the prevalence of psychiatric and neurocognitive disorders and their characterization both during the active and remission phases of CS. The last section of this review is dedicated to quality of life, impaired during active CS and only partially resolved after resolution of hypercortisolism.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience 04/2015; 9:129. DOI:10.3389/fnins.2015.00129
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Endogenous Cushing's syndrome is an endocrine disease resulting from chronic exposure to excessive glucocorticoids produced in the adrenal cortex. Although the ultimate outcome remains uncertain, functional and morphological brain changes are not uncommon in patients with this syndrome, and generally persist even after resolution of hypercortisolemia. We present an adolescent patient with Cushing's syndrome who exhibited cognitive impairment with brain atrophy. A 19-year-old Japanese male visited a local hospital following 5 days of behavioral abnormalities, such as money wasting or nighttime wandering. He had hypertension and a 1-year history of a rounded face. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed apparently diffuse brain atrophy. Because of high random plasma cortisol levels (28.7 μg/dL) at 10 AM, he was referred to our hospital in August 2011. Endocrinological testing showed adrenocorticotropic hormone-independent hypercortisolemia, and abdominal computed tomography demonstrated a 2.7 cm tumor in the left adrenal gland. The patient underwent left adrenalectomy in September 2011, and the diagnosis of cortisol-secreting adenoma was confirmed histologically. His hypertension and Cushingoid features regressed. Behavioral abnormalities were no longer observed, and he was classified as cured of his cognitive disturbance caused by Cushing's syndrome in February 2012. MRI performed 8 months after surgery revealed reversal of brain atrophy, and his subsequent course has been uneventful. In summary, the young age at onset and the short duration of Cushing's syndrome probably contributed to the rapid recovery of both cognitive dysfunction and brain atrophy in our patient. Cushing's syndrome should be considered as a possible etiological factor in patients with cognitive impairment and brain atrophy that is atypical for their age.
    Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment 09/2014; 10:1763-7. DOI:10.2147/NDT.S70611 · 2.15 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Various neurological and psychiatric manifestations have been recorded in children with adrenal disorders. Based on literature review and on personal case-studies and case-series we focused on the pathophysiological and clinical implications of glucocorticoid-related, mineralcorticoid-related, and catecholamine-related paediatric nervous system involvement. Childhood Cushing syndrome can be associated with long-lasting cognitive deficits and abnormal behaviour, even after resolution of the hypercortisolism. Exposure to excessive replacement of exogenous glucocorticoids in the paediatric age group (e.g., during treatments for adrenal insufficiency) has been reported with neurological and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities (e.g., delayed myelination and brain atrophy) due to potential corticosteroid-related myelin damage in the developing brain and the possible impairment of limbic system ontogenesis. Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), a disorder of unclear pathophysiology characterised by increased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure, has been described in children with hypercortisolism, adrenal insufficiency, and hyperaldosteronism, reflecting the potential underlying involvement of the adrenal-brain axis in the regulation of CSF pressure homeostasis. Arterial hypertension caused by paediatric adenomas or tumours of the adrenal cortex or medulla has been associated with various hypertension-related neurological manifestations. The development and maturation of the central nervous system (CNS) through childhood is tightly regulated by intrinsic, paracrine, endocrine, and external modulators, and perturbations in any of these factors, including those related to adrenal hormone imbalance, could result in consequences that affect the structure and function of the paediatric brain. Animal experiments and clinical studies demonstrated that the developing (i.e., paediatric) CNS seems to be particularly vulnerable to alterations induced by adrenal disorders and/or supraphysiological doses of corticosteroids. Physicians should be aware of potential neurological manifestations in children with adrenal dysfunction to achieve better prevention and timely diagnosis and treatment of these disorders. Further studies are needed to explore the potential neurological, cognitive, and psychiatric long-term consequences of high doses of prolonged corticosteroid administration in childhood.
    International Journal of Endocrinology 09/2014; 2014:282489. DOI:10.1155/2014/282489 · 1.52 Impact Factor