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Protein metabolism in glucocorticoid excess: study in Cushing's syndrome and the effect of treatment


How protein metabolism is perturbed during chronic glucocorticoid excess is poorly understood. The aims were to investigate the impact of chronic glucocorticoid excess and restoration of eucortisolemia in Cushing's syndrome (CS) on whole body protein metabolism. Eighteen subjects with CS and 18 normal subjects (NS) underwent assessment of body composition using DEXA and whole body protein turnover with a 3-h constant infusion of l-[(13)C]leucine, allowing calculation of rates of leucine appearance (leucine R(a)), leucine oxidation (L(ox)), and leucine incorporation into protein (LIP). Ten subjects with CS were restudied after restoration of eucortisolemia. Percentage FM was greater (43.9 +/- 1.6 vs. 33.8 +/- 2.4%, P = 0.002) and LBM lower (52.7 +/- 1.6 vs. 62.1 +/- 2.3%, P = 0.002) in CS. LBM was significantly correlated (r(2) > 0.44, P < 0.005) to leuceine R(a), L(ox), and LIP in both groups. After correcting for LBM, leucine R(a) (133 +/- 5 vs. 116 +/- 5 mumol/min, P = 0.02) and L(ox) (29 +/- 1 vs. 24 +/- 1 mumol/min, P = 0.01) were greater in CS. FM significantly correlated (r(2) = 0.23, P < 0.05) with leucine R(a) and LIP, but not L(ox) in CS. In multiple regression, LBM was an independent determinant of all three indexes of leucine turnover, FM of leucine R(a), and LIP and CS of L(ox). Following restoration of eucortisolemia, L(ox) was reduced (Delta-7.5 +/- 2.6 mumol/min, P = 0.02) and LIP increased (Delta+15.2 +/- 6.2 mumol/min, P = 0.04). In summary, whole body protein metabolism in CS is influenced by changes in body composition and glucocorticoid excess per se, which increases protein oxidation. Enhanced protein oxidation is a likely explanation for the reduced protein mass in CS. Successful treatment of CS reduces protein oxidation and increases protein synthesis to prevent ongoing protein loss.

Type Journal
ISBN 0193-1849 (Print)
Authors Burt, M. G.;Gibney, J.;Ho, K. K. :
Published Date 2007-01-01
Published Volume 292
Published Issue 5
Published Pages E1426-32
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version