This study investigates the effects of the glucocorticoid hormone cortisol on brain
structure and function. Patients with Cushing's disease are studied before and after
treatment. Brain imaging and neuropsychologic tests are used to study changes in the
hippocampus and thinking and learning functions as well as mood during the period of
elevated cortisol. At several intervals after treatment, these are reexamined to study the
degree of reversibility of the abnormalities. The contribution of cortisol as well as
testosterone and estrogen to dysfunction and recovery is studied. Since elevated cortisol
and dysregulation of its secretory system occurs in a significant proportion of the aged and
in Alzheimers Disease and Major Depressive Disorder, these studies will help advance
knowledge of the role of cortisol in these conditions.
- patients with suspected Cushing's syndrome with clinical findings suggestive of
Cushing's syndrome and positive screening tests (urinary free cortisol and low dose
overnight dexamethasone suppression test).
Exclusion criteria: none