Familial Cushing's syndrome due to ACTH independent bilateral macronodular adrenocortical hyperplasia occurring in siblings is reported. The proband was a 69-year-old woman who presented with a typical Cushingoid appearance. The serum cortisol level was elevated, with a loss of diurnal rhythm, and the plasma ACTH level was undetectable. Dynamic testing showed no suppression of urinary 17-OHCS by high dose dexamethasone and no stimulation by metyrapone. An abdominal CT scan showed bilateral adrenal enlargement. The patient died of a subarachnoid haemorrhage, and autopsy revealed a massively thickened adrenal cortex composed of nodules up to 3.5 cm in diameter. A pituitary adenoma was not found. We learned that the patient's elder brother was also diagnosed at 59 years of age with Cushing's syndrome due to bilateral macronodular adrenocortical hyperplasia. His plasma cortisol levels were not suppressed by high dose dexamethasone and the plasma ACTH level was undetectable. Screening of the available family members by administering 1 mg dexamethasone at midnight and performing abdominal CT scan revealed impaired suppressibility of serum cortisol associated with enlarged bilateral adrenal glands in a 64-year-old sister and a 54-year-old brother. The 64-year-old sister was considered as a possible 'affected' case in the early stages of development, because the basal level of ACTH was not suppressed and hyperplasia of the bilateral adrenal glands as revealed by CT scan was less evident.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism