Pharmacological treatment of hypercortisolism

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To consider the current status and types of drug therapy aimed at restoring eucortisolaemia in patients with Cushing's syndrome.

Recent findings

Advances such as laparoscopic adrenalectomy modify the exact placing of drug therapy among the wide variety of therapies available to treat patients with Cushing's syndrome because of different causes; nonetheless, it is now clear that hypercortisolism, per se, if present for any length of time, modifies the future prognosis of the patient, even after cure of the Cushing's syndrome. Thus, early diagnosis and restoration of eucortisolsm are critical. There are three main types of drug therapy: steroidogenesis inhibitors, glucocorticoid antagonists and neuromodulatory compounds. Currently, steroidogenesis inhibitors such as metyrapone and ketaconazole are most commonly the first choice if drug therapy is to be used, but at least for the most common form of Cushing's syndrome, Cushing's disease, the neuromodulatory compounds such as cabergoline show potential.

Summary

Pharmacological therapy for Cushing's syndrome remains critically important for normalizing cortisol levels while awaiting the impact of more definitive treatment.

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