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Adrenal Cushing syndrome in a patient with corticosteroid-treated asthma and worsening diabetes mellitus
  1. Mari Fukuda1,
  2. Keiko Hamada2,
  3. Yuki Shimizu2 and
  4. Tomohiro Tanaka2
  1. 1Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences and Medical School, Nagoya, Japan
  2. 2Department of Gastroenterology and Metabolism, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Nagoya, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tomohiro Tanaka; tttanaka{at}


A 55-year-old woman with poor diabetic control and a long history of corticosteroid-treated asthma was admitted. Hypertension and dyslipidaemia developed 9 and 6 years ago, respectively, and both were poorly controlled. Three years ago, her asthma control improved, and oral/intravenous steroids were switched to inhalers. Around this time, she was diagnosed as diabetes mellitus and heavily treated with insulin and other drugs thereafter. Physical examination showed central obesity, moon face appearance, abdominal striae and purpura. Endocrinological examination revealed suppressed adrenocorticotropic hormone, but unsuppressed endogenous cortisol levels. Right adrenal mass with isotope uptake revealed by CT scan and 131I-adosterol scintigraphy was compatible with cortisol-producing adenoma, leading to the diagnosis of adrenal Cushing syndrome. A history of corticosteroid usage sometimes prevents us from the timely detection of endogenous cortisol excess. Our current case tells us a lesson of the importance of suspecting non-iatrogenic causes of Cushing syndrome even in patients heavily treated with corticosteroids.

  • adrenal disorders
  • diabetes
  • metabolic disorders
  • obesity (nutrition)
  • asthma

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  • Contributors MF and TT have reviewed published papers and case reports, structured the concept and wrote the manuscript. KH is in charge of the care of the patient and made critical decisions on treatment options, and gave advice for the writing. YS gave valuable advice to MF in preparing the manuscript and figures.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer-reviewed.