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Metabolism. 2009 Dec;58(12):1825-31. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2009.06.015. Epub 2009 Aug 25.

Effects of glucose infusion on neuroendocrine and cognitive parameters in Addison disease.

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Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Luebeck, 23538 Luebeck, Germany.


Sucrose intake has been shown to suppress increased adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels in adrenalectomized rats, suggesting that increased cerebral energy supply can compensate for the loss of glucocorticoid feedback inhibition of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. We hypothesized that glucose infusion might acutely down-regulate increased ACTH secretion in patients with Addison disease. We studied 8 patients with primary adrenal insufficiency (Addison group) with short-term discontinuation of hydrocortisone substitution and 8 matched healthy controls in 2 randomized conditions. Subjects received either intravenous glucose infusion (0.75 g glucose per kilogram body weight for 2.5 hours) or placebo. Concentrations of ACTH, cortisol, catecholamines, growth hormone, glucagon, and insulin were measured; and cognitive functions as well as neuroglycopenic and autonomic symptoms were assessed. The ACTH concentrations were not affected by glucose infusion either in the Addison or in the control group. Likewise, concentrations of cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, growth hormone, and glucagon remained unchanged in both groups. Neurocognitive performance and symptom scores were likewise not affected. Independent of glucose infusion, attention of the Addison patients was impaired in comparison with the control group. Our study in patients with Addison disease was not able to support the assumption of a compensatory effect of intravenous glucose infusion on hormonal parameters and neurocognitive symptoms in states of chronic cortisol deficiency. Further studies should examine whether different regimens of glucose administration are more effective.

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