Cushing's syndrome (CS) in the pediatric population is challenging to diagnose and treat. Although next-generation medical therapies are emerging for adults with CS, none are currently approved or used in children. Here we describe the first use of mifepristone, a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist, to treat CS in a pediatric subject. The patient, a 14-year-old girl with an 18-month history of metastatic neuroendocrine carcinoma, suffered from fatigue, profound myopathy, irritability, and depression. She was found to have hypertension, hypokalemia, and worsening control of her preexisting type 1 diabetes. In this report, we detail our clinical evaluation that confirmed CS caused by an ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone secreting tumor. Surgical and radiation therapies were not pursued because of her poor functional status and limited life expectancy, and medical treatment of CS was indicated for symptom relief. Mifepristone treatment provided rapid improvement in glycemic control, insulin resistance, and hypertension as well as significant diminishment of her myopathy and fatigue. Hypokalemia was managed with an oral potassium replacement and dose escalation of spironolactone; no other significant adverse effects were observed. Despite successful palliation of Cushing's signs and symptoms, the patient died of progression of her cancer. This case demonstrates the safety and efficacy of mifepristone treatment in a pediatric patient with symptomatic, ectopic CS. We conclude that, in appropriate pediatric patients with CS, glucocorticoid receptor antagonism with mifepristone should be considered to control the effects of hypercortisolism and to improve quality of life.
Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.