Context: Cushing's syndrome frequently causes mental health impairment. Data in patients with adrenal incidentaloma (AI) are lacking.
Objective: We aimed to evaluate psychiatric and neurocognitive functions in AI patients, in relation to the presence of subclinical hypercortisolism (SH), and the effect of adrenalectomy on mental health.
Design: We enrolled 62 AI patients (64.8 ± 8.9 years) referred to our centers. Subclinical hypercortisolism was diagnosed when cortisol after 1mg-dexamethasone suppression test was >50 nmol/L, in the absence of signs of overt hypercortisolism, in 43 patients (SH+).
Interventions: The structured clinical interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5, and 5 psychiatric scales were performed. The Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (Verbal and Working Memory, Token and Symbol Task, Verbal Fluency, Tower of London) was explored in 26 patients (≤65 years).
Results: The prevalence of psychiatric disorders was 27.4% (SH+ 30.2% vs SH- 21.1%, P = 0.45). SH+ showed a higher prevalence of middle insomnia (by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale) compared with SH- (51% vs 22%, P = 0.039). Considering the Sheehan Disability Scale, SH+ showed a higher disability score (7 vs 3, P = 0.019), higher perceived stress (4.2 ± 1.9 vs 2.9 ± 1.9, P = 0.015), and lower perceived social support (75 vs 80, P = 0.036) than SH-. High perceived stress was independently associated with SH (odds ratio [OR] = 5.46, confidence interval 95% 1.4-21.8, P = 0.016). Interestingly, SH+ performed better in verbal fluency (49.5 ± 38.9 vs 38.9 ± 9.0, P = 0.012), symbol coding (54.1 ± 6.7 vs 42.3 ± 15.5, P = 0.013), and Tower of London (15.1 vs 10.9, P = 0.009) than SH-. In 8 operated SH+, no significant changes were found.
Conclusions: Subclinical hypercortisolism may influence patients' mental health and cognitive performances, requiring an integrated treatment.
Keywords: adrenal incidentaloma; cognition; mental health; subclinical hypercortisolism.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Endocrine Society.