BACKGROUND: Although major improvements are achieved after cure of Cushing syndrome (CS), fatigue and decreased quality of life persist. This is the first study to measure aerobic exercise capacity in patients in remission of CS for more than 4 years in comparison with matched controls, and to investigate whether the reduction in exercise capacity is related to alterations in muscle tissue. METHODS: Seventeen patients were included. A control individual, matched for sex, estrogen status, age, body mass index, smoking, ethnicity, and physical activity level was recruited for each patient. Maximal aerobic capacity (VO2peak) was assessed during incremental bicycle exercise to exhaustion. In 8 individually matched patients and controls, a percutaneous muscle biopsy was obtained and measures were made of cross-sectional areas, capillarization, and oxphos complex IV (COXIV) protein content as an indicator of mitochondrial content. Furthermore, protein content of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and eNOS phosphorylated on serine1177 and of the NAD(P)H-oxidase subunits NOX2, p47phox, and p67phox were measured in the microvascular endothelial layer. FINDINGS: Patients showed a lower mean VO2peak (SD) (28.0 [7.0] vs 34.8 [7.9] ml O2/kg bw/min, P < .01), maximal workload (SD) (176 [49] vs 212 [67] watt, P = .01), and oxygen pulse (SD) (12.0 [3.7] vs 14.8 [4.2] ml/beat, P < .01) at VO2peak. No differences were seen in muscle fiber type-specific cross-sectional area, capillarization measures, mitochondrial content, and protein content of eNOS, eNOS-P-ser1177, NOX2, p47phox, and p67phox. INTERPRETATION: Because differences in muscle fiber and microvascular outcome measures are not statistically significant, we hypothesize that cardiac dysfunction, seen in active CS, persists during remission and limits blood supply to muscles.

Cushing syndrome, long-term remission, muscle capillarization, muscle mitochondrial content, VO2peak,
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Roerink, S.H.P.P, Cocks, M.S. (Matthew S.), Wagenmakers, M.A.E.M, Rodighiero, R.P. (Raffaella P.), Strauss, J.A. (Juliette A.), Shepherd, S.O. (Sam O.), … Hermus, A.R.M.M. (2020). Decreased Aerobic Exercise Capacity After Long-Term Remission From Cushing Syndrome: Exploration of Mechanisms. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 105(4). doi:10.1210/clinem/dgz286