The influence of hydrocortisone substitution on the quality of life and parameters of bone metabolism in patients with secondary hypocortisolism.
Author(s): Wichers M, Springer W, Bidlingmaier F, Klingmuller D
Affiliation(s): Department of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
Publication date & source: 1999-06, Clin Endocrinol (Oxf)., 50(6):759-65.
Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial
OBJECTIVE: Hydrocortisone replacement regimes remain rather empirical and produce serum cortisol profiles very different from normal physiology. We have analysed the effects of different dosages of hydrocortisone (HC) replacement therapy on the health perception and general well-being of patients with secondary hypocortisolism. We also evaluated the effects of these regimens on bone metabolism. DESIGN: In a prospective randomized double-blind study, 3 groups of 3 patients were treated with 3 different dosages of HC (15, 20 and 30 mg/day), in different sequences, each sequence for two weeks. PATIENTS: Nine adult patients with complete secondary hypocortisolism. MEASUREMENTS: Serum cortisol, ACTH, aldosterone, renin, alkaline phosphatase, bone specific alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin, PTH, C-telopeptides of type-I collagen, sodium, potassium, phosphate; urinary free cortisol, pyridinium cross-links, urine sodium, potassium and phosphate were measured at the beginning and after each week of the study. For quality of life assessment the patients completed three different questionnaires, the Basler Befindlichkeits-Skala (BBS), the Befindlichkeits-Skala (Bf-S), the Beschwerde-Liste (BL) each week. RESULTS: With increasing doses of 15, 20 and 30 mg hydrocortisone a significant increase of free urinary cortisol was achieved (298 +/- 26 nmol/day, 454 +/- 43, 819 +/- 59, respectively; P < 0.01). The mean scores of the psychological questionnaires did not change significantly during the whole study (BBS 81.8 +/- 3.9; 82.8 +/- 3.9, 83.6 +/- 3.9; Bf-S 15.9 +/- 3.4, 11.3 +/- 2.6, 12.5 +/- 2.8; BL 15.7 +/- 2.3, 14.4 +/- 2.5, 14.8 +/- 2.6, respectively). Osteocalcin decreased significantly (2. 3 +/- 0.49, 2.1 +/- 0.42, 1.8 +/- 0.38, P < 0.01) with increasing HC doses but remained within the normal range. The other investigated parameters were within or nearly within the normal range in all patients at the beginning and did not change during the study. CONCLUSION: Dosages of 15, 20 or 30 mg hydrocortisone/day have equivalent effects on quality of life in patients with secondary hypocortisolism. With 15 or 20 mg hydrocortisone/day the patients feel nearly as well and content as normal healthy individuals. Since long-term treatment with a high replacement dose of glucocorticoids (hydrocortisone 30 mg/day) induces bone loss, this risk can be avoided with a substitution dosage of 20 mg or even 15 mg hydrocortisone/day, without influencing the well-being of the patient.