Article ID: EJ17-0083
The low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (DST) is one of the commonly used initial tests for endogenous Cushing’s syndrome (CS). However, there are two loading dose regimens (0.5-mg and 1-mg), which may cause some confusion in daily practice in Japan; furthermore, there are no reports regarding whether 0.5-mg DST is a better loading dose for detecting adrenal subclinical CS (SCS) based on the plasma dexamethasone (DEX) levels. Therefore, the aims of this study were (a) to develop a novel assay to measure DEX by using liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and (b) to compare between the 0.5-mg and 1-mg DST for SCS diagnosis based on the DEX levels. The study retrospectively analyzed 52 consecutive subjects hospitalized for diagnosis of adrenal incidentaloma but who did not exhibit an overt CS phenotype; eight (15.4%) patients were affected with adrenal SCS. Inter-individual variability of DEX levels after the DST was high, but intra-individual variability was low. DEX levels after 1-mg loading in each patient was around two times higher than those after 0.5-mg loading (ρ = 0.853 and p < 0.001). There were 45 (86.5%) and 17 (32.7%) subjects with DEX levels ≤2.2 ng/mL after the 0.5-mg and 1-mg DST, respectively (p < 0.001). Twenty-eight (93.3%) of 30 subjects and four (21.1%) of 19 subjects with detectable ACTH levels after the 0.5-mg and 1.0-mg DST, respectively, did not exhibit DEX levels >2.2 ng/mL. These results clearly indicate that the 1-mg DST is superior to 0.5-mg loading for the diagnosis of adrenal SCS.