Cardiometabolic profile of non-functioning and autonomous cortisol-secreting adrenal incidentalomas. Is the cardiometabolic risk similar or are there differences?
To study the differences in the cardiometabolic profile between patients with non-functioning adrenal incidentalomas (NFAI) and incidentalomas with autonomous cortisol secretion (ACS).
A total of 149 patients with adrenal incidentalomas were retrospectively evaluated and followed-up for a mean time of 34.6 months at Departments of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases Units of four tertiary Spanish hospitals. Patients were grouped as NFAI or ACS adenomas based on two cutoffs in the dexamethasone suppression test (DST): 3.0 µg/dl (NFAIDST3 or ACSDST3) and 1.8 µg/dl (ACSDST1.8 and NFAIDST1.8).
The mean age of both groups was 62.0 (10.31) and was similar in ACS and NFAI. The prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular disease was higher in ACS than in NFAI, but differences only reached statistical significance for cerebrovascular disease using the 3.0 µg/dl cutoff (15.8% vs 2.3%, p = 0.01) and for diabetes using the 1.8 µg/dl cutoff (38.0% vs 22.0%, p = 0.04). No differences were found in the prevalence of dyslipidemia. The prevalence of obesity was lower in patients with ACS than in NFAI 26.3% vs 39.2%, p = 0.18 (NFAIDST3 vs ACSDST3) and 32.1% vs 40.6%, p = 0.56 (ACSDST1.8 vs NFAIDST1.8), but the differences did not reach statistical significance. Maximum adenoma diameter (R-squared = 0.15, p < 0.001) and cerebrovascular disease (OR = 1.59, p = 0.04) were the only parameters that could be predicted by the DST. The DST was an inadequate predictor of clinical (systolic and diastolic blood pressure, body mass index), hormonal (DHEAS, ACTH, UFC, and basal serum cortisol), biochemical (glucose, cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides), and other radiological (laterality, lipid content) parameters. Throughout the follow-up, patients did not develop overt Cushing’s Syndrome; three NFAIDST3 developed ACSDST3, eight NFAIDST1.8 developed ACSDST1.8, and one NFAIDST1.8 progressed to ACSDST3. In both groups (NFAI and ACS) the metabolic profile remained stable.
Our data suggest higher prevalence of diabetes and cerebrovascular disease in ACS patients compared with NFAI. However, probably because of the small sample size, the differences only reached statistical significance using the cutoffs of 1.8 µg/dl for diabetes and 3.0 µg/dl for cerebrovascular disease. Patients with ACS and NFAI rarely progress to more aggressive forms of hypercortisolism, and the metabolic profile usually remains stable during the follow-up.
KeywordsAutonomous cortisol secretion (ACS) Non-functioning adrenal incidentaloma (NFAI) Adrenal incidentaloma (AI) Dexamethasone suppression test (DST)
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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