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Morbidity and Mortality in Autonomous Cortisol Secretion

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT03919734
Recruitment Status : Active, not recruiting
First Posted : April 18, 2019
Last Update Posted : October 29, 2019
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Henrik Olsen, Region Skane

Brief Summary:

Benign enlargements of the adrenal glands (adrenal adenomas) are frequent in adults. In the general population these adenomas are rare in subjects below 40 years of age but at the age of 60 and 80 years the prevalence is 6 and 8-10 % respectively. Since these adenomas do not causes obvious symptoms they are almost exclusively found incidentally in patients examined radiologically for other reasons than suspected adrenal disease. These enlargements are thus termed adrenal incidentalomas (AI). AI may secrete cortisol and more than 25 percent of patients with an AI have increased cortisol levels called autonomous cortisol secretion (ACS). Such increased secretion of cortisol may cause metabolic complications such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that ACS may cause increased mortality. These studies are however small and have not adequately taking other conditions into account which most likely influences the result.

The investigators hypothesis is that ACS is linked to increased mortality as the previous studies have shown. The aim is to perform a larger study on patients with adrenal incidentalomas, both with and without ACS, and compare the mortality rates with a control group matched for age and sex. This study may more precisely describe the cardiovascular risk for ACS and define the risk at different levels of ACS.

Condition or disease
Adrenal Incidentaloma Cortisol Overproduction

Detailed Description:

Patients with adrenal adenomas may have autonomous cortisol secretion (ACS) that has been linked to hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia and cardiovascular disease. Patients with ACS also have been found to have increased mortality. In two studies the excess mortality was caused by cardiovascular disease and in one study by cancer.

ACS is diagnosed by increased cortisol (≥50 nmol/l) following 1-mg dexamethasone suppression (DST) often in combination with another confirmatory test such as low ACTH, increased urinary cortisol, increased midnight salivary cortisol or a dexamethasone suppression test with a higher dexamethasone dose. Cortisol secretion from an AI has been considered exclusively autonomous but the investigators have recently shown that a large group of patients with normal results on DST have low ACTH indicating that another factor than ACS may suppress the HPA-axis. The hypothesis is that these patients have an increased sensitivity to ACTH, which results in lower ACTH levels. It has however not been studied whether the increased sensitivity to ACTH is linked to increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Patient data is collected from the patient cards and radiology images. Patients are included according to the eligibility criteria. The patients will be separated in the following groups:

  1. No ACS, inhalation steroids or adrenalectomy.
  2. ACS/possible-ACS but not treatment with inhalation steroids or adrenalectomy
  3. Treatment inhalation steroids but not operated.
  4. Unilateral AI and treated with adrenalectomy but no inhalation steroids. The group is separated in patients without ACS and patients with possible ACS/ACS.

Three age and gender matched subjects from the general population for every patient will serve as a controls.

Outcome data on patients and controls is received from The National Board of Health and Welfare. The control group is achieved from SCB, Sweden (Statistics Sweden). The following outcome data will be collected: Data on mortality, cause of mortality and inpatient and outpatient cardiovascular diagnoses. The study design reduces the risk for bias between the clinical endpoints and the patient's cortisol and ACTH levels. The patient cohorts will be finally defined before the investigators receive the clinical endpoints from The National Board of Health and Welfare.

Statistical analysis: The prevalence of the outcome data in the groups of patients will be compared. The investigators will adjusted for differences between the groups in sex, age, smoking, impaired renal function, and existing cardiovascular disease.

The following variables will be examined in relation to the outcome data: Cortisol following dexamethasone (≥50 nmol/l, ≥83 nmol/l and ≥138 nmol/l), low basal ACTH (<2.0 pmol/l), DHEAS, the size of the AI and bilateral versus unilateral AI.

Study Status: We anticipate to receive the outcome data from The National Board of Health and Welfare in October 2019. The study has thus been slightly delayed. Data on morbidity will only be available until December 31, 2017 due to a delay in reporting to The National Board of Health and Welfare. The secondary outcome measure has been changed to a composite of cardiovascular endpoints.

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Study Type : Observational
Estimated Enrollment : 4600 participants
Observational Model: Cohort
Time Perspective: Retrospective
Official Title: Morbidity and Mortality in Patients With Adrenal Incidentalomas With and Without Autonomous Cortisol Secretion
Actual Study Start Date : September 15, 2015
Estimated Primary Completion Date : December 1, 2019
Estimated Study Completion Date : September 30, 2020

AI ACS/possible ACS
Patients with adrenal incidentalomas and cortisol following overnight 1-mg dexamethasone suppression equal to or above 50 nmol/l. The patients should not have clinical signs of Cushing Syndrome, such as catabolic skin and muscle changes.
AI non-ACS
Patients with adrenal incidentalomas and cortisol following overnight 1-mg dexamethasone suppression below 50 nmol/l.
Treatment with Inhalation Steroids
Patients treated with inhalation steroids with and without ACS/possible ACS but not operated with adrenalectomy.
Patients with unilateral AI operated with adrenalectomy
A Group of Controls matched for sex and age, achieved by the government agency "Statistics Sweden" (SCB).

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Number of patients deceased, both totally and divided into three specified diagnose groups (cardiovascular disease, infections and cancer). [ Time Frame: From date of enrollment until December 31, 2018. ]
    The cause of death is defined by the ICD-10 code reported by The National Board of Health and Welfare.

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. A composite of cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction (excluding silent myocardial infarction), nonfatal stroke, hospitalization for heart failure and revascularization (CABG and PCI). The endpoints will also be calculated separately. [ Time Frame: From date of enrollment until December 31, 2017. ]
    The diagnoses is defined by the ICD-10 code and Swedish classification of healthcare interventions (KVÅ-codes FNA-FNG) both reported by The National Board of Health and Welfare

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No
Sampling Method:   Non-Probability Sample
Study Population

Patients examined at the Endocrine outpatient ambulatory first time for adrenal incidentalomas during the period from January 1, 2005 to September 15, 2015.

A Group of Age and sex matched controls developed by SCB.


Inclusion Criteria:

Patients with adrenal incidentalomas examined at Skane University Hospital and Helsingborg Hospital during the period from January 1, 2005 to September 15, 2015.

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Size of incidentaloma below 1 cm
  2. Malignant disease with metastases,
  3. Incidentaloma not an adenoma but for example malignancy, myelolipoma and bleedings
  4. Pheochromocytomas
  5. Primary aldosteronism
  6. Continuous treatment with systemic glucocorticoid under the last 3 months.
  7. Cushing Syndrome
  8. Medication affecting dexamethasone metabolism.
  9. Treatment with systemic estrogen

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT03919734

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Dept. of Endocrinology, Skåne University Hospital
Lund, Skåne, Sweden, 25656
Sponsors and Collaborators
Region Skane
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Principal Investigator: Henrik Olsen, MD, PhD Medical Faculty, University of Lund


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Responsible Party: Henrik Olsen, Principal Investigator Henrik Olsen, MD, PhD., Region Skane Identifier: NCT03919734     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 1
First Posted: April 18, 2019    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: October 29, 2019
Last Verified: October 2019
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: No

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: No
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Adrenocortical Adenoma
Adrenal Gland Neoplasms
Adrenocortical Hyperfunction
Adrenal Cortex Neoplasms
Endocrine Gland Neoplasms
Neoplasms by Site
Adrenal Cortex Diseases
Adrenal Gland Diseases
Endocrine System Diseases
Hydrocortisone 17-butyrate 21-propionate
Hydrocortisone acetate
Hydrocortisone hemisuccinate
Anti-Inflammatory Agents