Cushing's syndrome

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Cushing's syndrome is a hormone disorder caused by high levels of cortisol in the blood. This can be caused by taking glucocorticoid drugs, or by tumors that produce cortisol or adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) or CRH [1]

Cushing's disease refers to one specific cause of the syndrome, a tumor (adenoma) in the pituitary gland that produces large amounts of ACTH, which in turn elevates cortisol. It is the most common cause of Cushing's syndrome, responsible for 70% of cases[2]

This pathology was described by Harvey Cushing in 1932.[3][4] the syndrome is also called Itsenko-Cushing syndrome, hyperadrenocorticism or hypercorticism)

Cushing's syndrome is not confined to humans and is also a relatively common condition in domestic dogs and horses.


Signs and symptoms

Symptoms include rapid weight gain, particularly of the trunk and face with sparing of the limbs (central obesity). A common sign is the growth of fat pads along the collar bone and on the back of the neck (buffalo hump) and a round face often referred to as a "moon face". Other symptoms include hyperhidrosis (excess sweating), telangiectasia (dilation of capillaries), thinning of the skin (which causes easy bruising and dryness, particularly the hands) and other mucous membranes, purple or red striae (the weight gain in Cushing's syndrome stretches the skin, which is thin and weakened, causing it to hemorrhage) on the trunk, buttocks, arms, legs or breasts, proximal muscle weakness (hips, shoulders), and hirsutism (facial male-pattern hair growth), baldness and/or cause hair to become extremely dry and brittle. In rare cases, Cushing's can cause hypercalcemia, which can lead to skin necrosis. The excess cortisol may also affect other endocrine systems and cause, for example, insomnia, inhibited aromatase, reduced libido, impotence, amenorrhoea/oligomenorrhea and infertility due to elevations in androgens. Patients frequently suffer various psychological disturbances, ranging from euphoria to psychosis. Depression and anxiety are also common.[5]

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