Glucocorticoid excess in patients with pheochromocytoma compared to paraganglioma and other forms of hypertension.

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Catecholamines and adrenocortical steroids are important regulators of blood pressure. Bidirectional relationships between adrenal steroids and catecholamines have been established but whether this is relevant to patients with pheochromocytoma is unclear.This study addresses the hypothesis that patients with pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma (PPGL) have altered steroid production compared to primary hypertensives.Multicenter cross-sectional study.Twelve European referral centers.Subjects included 182 patients with pheochromocytoma, 36 with paraganglioma and 270 primary hypertensives. Patients with primary aldosteronism (n=461) and Cushing syndrome (n=124) were included for additional comparisons.In patients with PPGLs, surgical resection of tumors.Differences in mass spectrometry-based profiles of 15 adrenal steroids between groups and after surgical resection of PPGLs. Relationships of steroids to plasma and urinary metanephrines and urinary catecholamines.Patients with pheochromocytoma had higher (P<0.05) circulating concentrations of cortisol, 11-deoxycortisol, 11-deoxycorticosterone and corticosterone than primary hypertensives. Concentrations of cortisol, 11-deoxycortisol and corticosterone were also higher (P<0.05) in patients with pheochromocytoma than with paraganglioma. These steroids correlated positively with plasma and urinary metanephrines and catecholamines in patients with pheochromocytoma, but not paraganglioma. After adrenalectomy, there were significant decreases in cortisol, 11-deoxycortisol, corticosterone, 11-deoxycorticosterone, aldosterone and 18-oxocortisol.This is the first large study in patients with PPGLs that supports in a clinical setting the concept of adrenal cortical-medullary interactions involving an influence of catecholamines on adrenal steroids. These findings could have implications for the cardiovascular complications of PPGLs and the clinical management of patients with the tumors.


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