Top 10 Cushing’s disease stories of 2023

Most-read stories highlight the complexity of diagnosing Cushing's disease

Margarida Maia, PhD avatar

by Margarida Maia, PhD |

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In 2023, Cushing’s Disease News brought readers comprehensive coverage of the latest scientific research and developments in treatment for Cushing’s disease.

Here are the 10 most-read news stories of 2023, along with a brief description of each. We look forward to continuing to serve as a resource for the Cushing’s community this year.

No. 10 – Brain changes may be linked to anxiety and cognitive issues

Weaker connections across regions of the brain may explain why people with Cushing’s disease often experience mental health problems, such as anxiety, and trouble with attention or memory. While these findings come from a small study that included only women, they suggest neuromodulation may help with mental health and cognition.

No. 9 – Late-night cortisol saliva test found less accurate in clinical practice

Researchers in Turkey found measuring late-night cortisol levels in saliva — a common test for diagnosing Cushing’s syndrome — may be less accurate in real-world clinical practice than in controlled experimental settings. However, the test performed equally well for diagnosing clinical and subclinical Cushing’s syndrome, where overt symptoms of the condition may not be apparent.

No. 8 – Artri King supplement may have caused Cushing’s in a man

A 52-year-old man developed Cushing’s syndrome after taking Artri King, a supplement promoted and sold for joint pain and arthritis. In 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised against using Artri King after its lab found the supplement contains hidden ingredients, including the corticosteroid dexamethasone.

Taking dexamethasone for a prolonged period of time can cause Cushing’s syndrome. The man had been taking Artri King for 1.5 years, but suddenly stopped after experiencing symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome. Abrupt discontinuation can cause the adrenal glands to stop producing hormones, including cortisol, leading to withdrawal symptoms and other complications.

No. 7 – High neutrophil levels could be sign of subclinical Cushing’s disease

A 37-year-old woman in China with high numbers of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, had a mild increase in cortisol caused by a tumor in the brain’s pituitary gland, but none of the typical symptoms of Cushing’s disease. She was diagnosed with subclinical Cushing’s disease.

While it is rare for someone with Cushing’s to have too many neutrophils, this could be a sign of a subclinical form of the disease, researchers said.

No. 6 – Cushing’s disease may manifest as muscle weakness alone

A 36-year-old man in Iran experienced muscle weakness as the only sign of Cushing’s disease. Such presentation is rare, so he was initially misdiagnosed with dermatomyositis, a disease that causes muscle weakness and skin rashes.

No. 5 – Pituitary surgery may partially restore brain circuits

Transsphenoidal adenomectomy may partially restore functional connections across regions of the brain of people with Cushing’s disease, as their cortisol levels return to normal, according to a study in China.

Transsphenoidal adenomectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a tumor that has formed in the pituitary gland. In patients participating in the study, three months after the surgical procedure, cortisol remained within a normal range, and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety had eased.

No. 4 – Infection and electrolyte imbalance may be signs of Cushing’s syndrome

A severe muscle infection and electrolyte imbalance caused by low potassium in the blood gave doctors clues to a diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome in an elderly woman living in Portugal.

The woman was obese and had multiple bruises and a buildup of fat around the abdomen. She also had high blood pressure and diabetes. Complications from the infection ultimately led to her death before treatment could begin.

No. 3 – Another case of Cushing’s syndrome linked to Artri King

A 40-year-old woman in the U.S. developed Cushing’s syndrome after having taken Artri King on and off for three years, adding to the growing list of serious side effects associated with the supplement. Her symptoms included sudden, unexplained weight gain and osteoporosis.

The woman initially did not mention her use of Artri King because she thought it was a regular over-the-counter vitamin supplement that had no effect on her condition, which may have delayed her Cushing’s diagnosis.

No. 2 – Woman diagnosed with Cushing’s despite negative cortisol tests

After repeatedly testing negative for high cortisol on a standard blood workup, a 37-year-old woman was diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome based on the results of a test that measured cortisol levels in the veins located near the adrenal glands, which sit atop the kidneys.

Clinicians suspected Cushing’s because she had many of the common symptoms of the disease, including weight gain, easy bruising, muscle weakness, hair loss, and high blood pressure.

No. 1 – High-resolution MRI may be better at detecting microadenomas

A high-resolution MRI outperformed other types of MRI at detecting microadenomas — small noncancerous tumors that form in the pituitary gland and can cause Cushing’s disease.

About four out of five people with Cushing’s disease received a correct diagnosis with high-resolution MRI after being first misdiagnosed using conventional or dynamic MRI. The technology, called high-resolution contrast-enhanced MRI with 3D fast spin echo, can image relatively large volumes of tissue more rapidly, with higher resolution and fewer artifacts. It could help detect very small tumors that often go unnoticed with other types of MRI.


We look forward to continuing to cover the latest developments in Cushing’s disease research in 2024, and wish all our readers a happy new year!