Loss of Body Cell Mass in Cushing's Syndrome: Effect of Treatment

M. Pirlich
2002 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism  
Cushing's syndrome (CS) is associated with low fat-free mass, but it is unclear whether hypercortisolism causes a loss of whole body protein. Body composition was studied prospectively in 15 patients with untreated CS (n ‫؍‬ 14 pituitary adenoma; n ‫؍‬ 1 adrenal adenoma), in 15 nonobese healthy controls, and in 15 weight-matched obese controls by 3 different methods: total body potassium counting (TBP), bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), and anthropometry. In 6 patients, body composition
more » ... body composition was studied before and within 6 months after pituitary surgery. In CS patients and weight-matched controls, body weight and total body fat were significantly higher than in nonobese controls. In CS patients, TBP was 18.4% lower than predicted, whereas in weight-matched controls TBP was 7.1% higher than predicted. As compared with nonobese and weightmatched controls, in CS patients TBP indicated a significant loss of body cell mass (BCM) of ؊20.2 and ؊21.1%, respectively. A significantly reduced arm muscle area of ؊21.3% compared with weight-matched controls also indicated a loss of whole body protein. In CS, however, BIA overestimated BCM when compared with TBP by ؉18% and agreement between BIA and TBP in the individual patient was poor (limits of agreement ؎ 27.6%), indicating the invalidity of standard BIA equations in this population. Measurements performed before and 6 months after successful pituitary surgery demonstrated a significant loss of body weight (؊11%) and body fat (؊33%), but BCM and muscle mass remained on a constant low level. In conclusion, this study shows that, in patients with CS, a significantly reduced BCM indicates a true protein loss. The second interesting finding is that in the early recovery after successful treatment of hypercortisolism patients lose body fat without gaining BCM or muscle mass. (J Clin Endocrinol
doi:10.1210/jc.87.3.1078 pmid:11889168 fatcat:n7exstm3zfhknitjlplpmckthu