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Physiological basis for the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of adrenal disorders: Cushing's syndrome, adrenal insufficiency, and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Compr Physiol 2014 Apr;4(2):739-69

Date

04/10/2014

Pubmed ID

24715566

Pubmed Central ID

PMC4215264

DOI

10.1002/cphy.c130035

Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84903382350   58 Citations

Abstract

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a classic neuroendocrine system. One of the best ways to understand the HPA axis is to appreciate its dynamics in the variety of diseases and syndromes that affect it. Excess glucocorticoid activity can be due to endogenous cortisol overproduction (spontaneous Cushing's syndrome) or exogenous glucocorticoid therapy (iatrogenic Cushing's syndrome). Endogenous Cushing's syndrome can be subdivided into ACTH-dependent and ACTH-independent, the latter of which is usually due to autonomous adrenal overproduction. The former can be due to a pituitary corticotroph tumor (usually benign) or ectopic ACTH production from tumors outside the pituitary; both of these tumor types overexpress the proopiomelanocortin gene. The converse of Cushing's syndrome is the lack of normal cortisol secretion and is usually due to adrenal destruction (primary adrenal insufficiency) or hypopituitarism (secondary adrenal insufficiency). Secondary adrenal insufficiency can also result from a rapid discontinuation of long-term, pharmacological glucocorticoid therapy because of HPA axis suppression and adrenal atrophy. Finally, mutations in the steroidogenic enzymes of the adrenal cortex can lead to congenital adrenal hyperplasia and an increase in precursor steroids, particularly androgens. When present in utero, this can lead to masculinization of a female fetus. An understanding of the dynamics of the HPA axis is necessary to master the diagnosis and differential diagnosis of pituitary-adrenal diseases. Furthermore, understanding the pathophysiology of the HPA axis gives great insight into its normal control.

Author List

Raff H, Sharma ST, Nieman LK

Author

Hershel Raff PhD Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin




MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital
Adrenal Insufficiency
Cushing Syndrome
Humans
Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System
Pituitary-Adrenal System
jenkins-FCD Prod-484 8aa07fc50b7f6d102f3dda2f4c7056ff84294d1d