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Medical Management of Cushing’s Syndrome: Current and Emerging Treatments

  • José Miguel Hinojosa-Amaya
  • Daniel Cuevas-Ramos
  • Maria FleseriuEmail author
Review Article


Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is a chronic disease associated with increased morbidity and mortality if not appropriately treated. Recurrence and/or persistence of hypercortisolemia after surgical treatment, especially for Cushing’s disease, are high, and long-term medical treatment is used to decrease cortisol levels and risk of metabolic comorbidities. Medical treatment is also often required while waiting for radiation effects to take place. In some cases, severe or life-threatening hypercortisolism must be urgently and medically treated, via intravenous medications or with combination therapy, before patients can undergo surgery. In the last decade, medical treatment has progressed from a few steroidogenesis inhibitors to three novel drug groups: new inhibitors for steroidogenic enzymes with possibly fewer side effects, pituitary-directed drugs that aim to inhibit the pathophysiological pathways of Cushing’s disease, and glucocorticoid receptor antagonists that block cortisol’s action. Understanding the pathophysiology of Cushing’s syndrome has also led to the identification of potential targets that may decrease adrenocorticotrophic hormone and/or cortisol excess, and/or decrease tumor cell proliferation, and induce senescence or apoptosis. We provide here a review of current and near-future medical options to treat Cushing’s syndrome, and discuss updates on clinical trials and the efficacy and safety of novel or in-development drugs, as well as future potential targets.



The authors thank Shirley McCartney, PhD, for manuscript preparation and editorial assistance.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this study.

Conflict of interest

José Miguel Hinojosa-Amaya and Daniel Cuevas-Ramos have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this study. Maria Fleseriu is a principal investigator with funding from research grants to Oregon Health & Science University from Millendo, Novartis, and Strongbridge, and has done occasional scientific consulting work for Novartis and Strongbridge.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Miguel Hinojosa-Amaya
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Cuevas-Ramos
    • 3
  • Maria Fleseriu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departments of Medicine (Endocrinology) and Neurological Surgery, and Northwest Pituitary CenterOregon Health and Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Endocrinology Division, Department of Medicine, Hospital Universitario, Dr. José E. GonzálezUniversidad Autónoma de Nuevo LeónMonterreyMexico
  3. 3.Neuroendocrinology Clinic, Department of Endocrinology and MetabolismInstituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador ZubiránMexico CityMexico

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