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Patients with Cushing syndrome do not suppress, whereas patients with pseudo-Cushing syndrome do suppress their cortisol level.
According to The Endocrine Society, this test can be useful in patients with equivocal 24-hour urinary free cortisol results, and a dexamethasone level should be measured at the time of CRH administration to exclude a false-positive result.
These conditions can overactivate the HPA axis, causing a physiological increase in circulating cortisol and leading to erroneous dexamethasone suppression test results and/or elevated 24-hour urinary free cortisol levels suggestive of Cushing syndrome.
The test is performed by administering 0.5 mg dexamethasone orally every 6 hours for 48 hours followed by IV CRH (1µg/kg) 2 hours after the last dose of dexamethasone; then cortisol level is measured about 15 minutes after IV CRH administration.
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Georges Elhomsy, MD, ECNU, FACE Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Georges Elhomsy, MD, ECNU, FACE is a member of the following medical societies: American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American College of Endocrinology, American College of Physicians, Endocrine Society, The Obesity Society Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.
Eric B Staros, MD Associate Professor of Pathology, St Louis University School of Medicine; Director of Clinical Laboratories, Director of Cytopathology, Department of Pathology, St Louis University Hospital Eric B Staros, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, American Society for Clinical Pathology, College of American Pathologists, Association for Molecular Pathology Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.
A low dose of dexamethasone suppresses cortisol in individuals with no pathology in endogenous cortisol production.
A high dose of dexamethasone exerts negative feedback on pituitary ACTH-producing cells, but not on ectopic ACTH-producing cells or adrenal adenoma.
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