Endocrinol Metab.  2021 Jun;36(3):564-571. 10.3803/EnM.2021.1069.

Cushing Syndrome Associated Myopathy: It Is Time for a Change

  • 1Medical Department IV, LMU-University Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany


Cushing syndrome is the result of excessive levels of glucocorticoids. Endogenous Cushing syndrome is rare with an incidence of two to three cases per million per year. Clinically, the presentation consists of a characteristic phenotype including skin symptoms and metabolic manifestations. A frequent co-morbidity with high impact on quality of life is Cushing syndrome associated myopathy. It characteristically affects the proximal myopathy, impairing stair climbing and straightening up. The pathophysiology is complex and involves protein degradation via the forkhead box O3 (FOXO3) pathway, intramuscular fat accumulation, and inactivity-associated muscle atrophy. Surgical remission of Cushing syndrome is the most important step for recovery of muscle function. Restoration depends on age, co-morbidities and postoperative insulin-like growth factor concentrations. At average, functionality remains impaired during the long-term compared to age and sex matched control persons. Growth hormone therapy in individuals with impaired growth hormone secretion could be an option but has not been proved in a randomized trial.


Glucocorticoids; Quality of life; Cushing syndrome; Growth hormone; Stair climbing; Muscular atrophy; Somatomedins; Phenotype; Bodily secretions; Muscles
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