Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Possible ACTH-independent, cortisol-secreting and DHEA-secreting metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma causing Cushing’s syndrome
  1. Alan Sacerdote1,
  2. Taiga Inoue1,
  3. Nithin Thomas2,
  4. Gul Bahtiyar1
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Woodhull Medical Mental Health Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Coney Island Hospital, Brooklyn, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alan Sacerdote, Alan.Sacerdote{at}


Cortisol production by hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has not been previously reported and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) secretion by HCC is rare. We report a case of a 53-year-old woman admitted with dyspnoea and headache. Serum cortisol by immunoassay (IA) was 42.3 μg/dL, urine free cortisol (UFC) by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) was 106.1 μg/24 h, serum DHEA by LC/MS/MS was 4886 ng/mL, serum DHEA-S by LC/MS/MS was 4477 ng/mL and plasma adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) by IA was 10 pg/mL. CT showed likely HCC metastatic to the left adrenal gland, brain and lungs. Liver and adrenal gland biopsies confirmed HCC. ACTH tumour staining was negative. High serum and UFC levels and high serum DHEA and DHEA-S with low-normal plasma ACTH and negative tumour ACTH staining suggested ACTH-independent ectopic Cushing's syndrome (CS); cortisol and DHEA being likely secreted by the HCC. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of HCC associated with CS.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.