Cushing’s Syndrome is a hormone disorder, resulting in a prolonged high level of circulating hormone cortisol (hypercortisolism).
Prolonged hypersecretion of cortisol and circulating cortisol leads to secondary symptoms and characteristics which are key signs of Cushing’s Syndrome. These key signs and characterisitics of Cushing’s Syndrome include the following:
– Fatness of face and trunk with wasting of extremities, this is often known as the moon face syndrome;
– Buffalo hump, this is where prolonged hypersecretion of the steroid cortisol leads to increased fatty deposits and build up around the back of the neck, literally forming a hump that resembles a buffalo hump;
Bone decalcification, this is because a high level of cortisol reduces the production of vitamin D which is paramount in the absorption of calcium ions in the bowels. Therefore prolonged hypersecretion of cortisol during conditions such as Cushing’s Syndrome will lead to bone decalcification;
Corticoid diabetes – this is where prolonged levels of the hormone coticol produces a steroid induced insulin resistance leading to IDDM (insulin dependant diabetes mellitus).
Hypertension, due to an increased release of adrenaline and nor-adrenaline as a secondary result of hypercortisolaemia (high levels of cortisol in the blood), which in turn cause an increase in force of myocardial contraction and vascular compression.
Want more information on Cushing’s Syndrome?
I recommend Huether and McCance (2002) Pathophysiology Textbook, Mosby Inc for much more depth and clarity on the topic of Cushing’s Syndrome.