Adrenal Gland Disorders

Adrenal gland disorders occur when the adrenal glands produce too much or too little hormone. Adrenal gland function also can be affected by hormones produced by other glands in the body, such as the pituitary gland, or by hormones introduced from an outside source. At least nine different types of adrenal gland disorders exist, each with its own symptoms and possible treatments.

About Adrenal Gland Disorders

The adrenal glands, located on the top of each kidney, are responsible for releasing different hormones. Adrenal gland disorders occur when the adrenal glands produce too much or too little of these hormones.

Overall, adrenal gland disorders are generally rare. The number of people affected and at risk depends on the specific type of adrenal gland disorder.

Citations

  1. EndocrineWeb. (2012). An overview of the adrenal glands: Beyond fight or flight. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.endocrineweb.com/endocrinology/overview-adrenal-glands external link
  2. New York Times Health Guide. (2008). Exogenous adrenal insufficiency. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/exogenous-adrenal-insufficiency/overview.html external link
  3. National Library of Medicine. (2013). Adrenal gland disorders. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/adrenalglanddisorders.html

What are some types of adrenal gland disorders?

There are several types of adrenal gland disorders, each with its own symptoms and treatments.

Citations

  1. American Society of Clinical Oncology. (March 2016).  Pituitary gland tumor. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.cancer.net/patient/Cancer+Types/Pituitary+Gland+Tumor external link
  2. National Library of Medicine. (June 2012). Cushing syndrome. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000410.htm
  3. National Library of Medicine. (2011). Prednisone. Retrieved on May 24, 2016, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a615042.html
  4. National Library of Medicine. (2012). Addison's disease. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/addisonsdisease.html
  5. Adjallé, R., Plouin, P.F., Pacak, K., Lehnert, H. (2009). Treatment of malignant pheochromocytoma. Hormone and Metabolic Research, 41, 687-696. Retrieved March 2, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19672813

What are the symptoms of adrenal gland disorders?

The adrenal glands, located on the top of each kidney, are responsible for releasing different hormones. Adrenal gland disorders occur when the adrenal glands produce too much or too little of these hormones.

Citations

  1. CARES Foundation. (2014). What is congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)? Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.caresfoundation.org/what-is-cah/non-classical-cah/ external link
  2. National Cancer Institute. (2011). Pituitary tumors treatment (PDQ®)—patient version. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/pituitary/Patient/page9/AllPages#7
  3. Pacak, K., Linehan, W. M., Eisenhofer, G., Walther, M. M., & Goldstein, D. S. (2001). Recent advances in genetics, diagnosis, localization, and treatment of pheochromocytoma. Annals of Internal Medicine. 134, 315–329.
  4. National Library of Medicine. (2012). Addison disease. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/addisonsdisease.html
  5. EndocrineWeb. (2011). Addison's disease and adrenal insufficiency overview. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/addisons-disease/addison-disease-adrenal-insufficiency-overview external link

What causes adrenal gland disorders?

Adrenal gland disorders are caused by problems with one or both adrenal glands or by problems with other glands, such as the pituitary gland.

Specific disorders can develop when the adrenal glands produce too few or too many hormones, or when too many hormones are introduced from an outside source.1

Citations

  1. New York Times Health Guide. (2008). Exogenous adrenal insufficiency. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/exogenous-adrenal-insufficiency/overview.html external link
  2. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2012). Cushing's syndrome. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/cushings-syndrome
  3. CARES Foundation. (2007). Overview: What is congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)? Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.caresfoundation.org/what-is-cah/ External Web Site Policy
  4. Asa, S. L., & Ezzat, S. (2002). The pathogenesis of pituitary tumours. Nature Reviews Cancer, 2, 836–849.
  5. Melmed, S. (2011). Pathogenesis of pituitary tumors. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 7, 257–266.
  6. Chen, H., Sippel, R.S., O'Dorisio, M.S., Vinik, AI., Lloyd, R.V., Pacak, K.; et al. The North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society consensus guideline for the diagnosis and management of neuroendocrine tumors: pheochromocytoma, paraganglioma, and medullary thyroid cancer. Pancreas, 39, 775-783. Retrieved March 2, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20664475
  7. Society for Endocrinology. (2015). Addison's disease. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.yourhormones.info/endocrine-conditions/addisons-disease/ external link
  8. Society for Endocrinology. (2013). Hyperaldosteronism. Retrieved May 25, 2016 from http://www.yourhormones.info/endocrine-conditions/primary-hyperaldosteronism/ external link
  9. Chen, H., Sippel, R.S., O'Dorisio, M.S., Vinik, AI., Lloyd, R.V., Pacak, K.; et al. The North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society consensus guideline for the diagnosis and management of neuroendocrine tumors: pheochromocytoma, paraganglioma, and medullary thyroid cancer. Pancreas, 39, 775-783. Retrieved March 2, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20664475

How do health care providers diagnose adrenal gland disorders?

Methods for diagnosing adrenal gland disorders differ depending on the specific disorder. For example, the severe form of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is most commonly identified during newborn screening.1 But pheochromocytoma is diagnosed using blood and urine tests.2

Citations

  1. Endocrine Society. (2010). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia fact sheet. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.hormone.org/questions-and-answers/2010/congenital-adrenal-hyperplasia external link
  2. National Adrenal Diseases Foundation. (n.d.). Pheochromocytoma: The facts you need to know. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from https://www.nadf.us/pheochromocytoma.html external link
  3. American Society of Clinical Oncology. (March, 2016). Adrenal gland tumor. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/adrenal-gland-tumor/diagnosis external link
  4. Cushing's Support and Research Foundation. (2003). Diagnostic testing for Cushing's syndrome. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://csrf.net/understanding-cushings/diagnostic-testing/ external link
  5. Orphanet. (2012). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.orpha.net/consor/cgi-bin/OC_Exp.php?Lng=GB&Expert=418 external link
  6. New York Times Health Guide. (2012). Pituitary tumor. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/pituitary-tumor/overview.html external link
  7. Columbia University Medical Center, Department of Surgery. (2011). Paraganglioma. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.columbiasurgery.org/adrenal/paraganglioma.html external link
  8. Society for Endocrinology. (2015). Addison's disease. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.yourhormones.info/endocrine-conditions/addisons-disease/ external link
  9. National Library of Medicine. (2015). Hyperaldosteronism - primary and secondary. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000330.htm

What are the treatments for adrenal gland disorders?

Health care providers use a variety of surgical and medical treatments for adrenal gland disorders. These include1:

  • Surgery to remove tumors in the adrenal gland or, when appropriate, surgery to remove the one or both of the adrenal glands
  • Minimally invasive surgery performed through the nostrils to remove tumors in the pituitary gland
  • Medication to stop the excess production of hormones
  • Hormone replacement

Citations

  1. Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin. (2009). Programs and disease treatment: Adrenal gland disorders. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from http://www.froedtert.com/SpecialtyAreas/Endocrinology/ProgramsandDiseaseTreatment/
    AdrenalGlandDisorders.htm
    external link
  2. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2012). Cushing's syndrome. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/cushings-syndrome#treatment
  3. The Endocrine Society. (2010). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to steroid 12-hydroxylase deficiency: An Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/95/9/4133/2835216 external link
  4. National Library of Medicine. (November 2013). Pituitary tumor. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000704.htm
  5. National Cancer Institute. (2015). Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma treatment (PDQ®)–health professional version. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/pheochromocytoma/
    HealthProfessional/page1/AllPages#3
  6. National Adrenal Diseases Foundation. (n.d.). Adrenal diseases-Addison's disease: The facts you need to know. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from https://www.nadf.us/primary-adrenal-insufficiency-addisonrsquos-disease.html external link
  7. Society for Endocrinology. (2013). Hyperaldosteronism. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.yourhormones.info/endocrine-conditions/primary-hyperaldosteronism/ external link

 

NICHD Adrenal Gland Disorder Research Goals

Researchers in NICHD’s intramural and extramural programs advance the study of adrenal gland disorders.

The Institute’s research is aimed at understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms leading to disorders that affect the adrenal gland, with emphasis on those that are developmental, hereditary, and associated with adrenal hypoplasia or hyperplasia, multiple tumors, and abnormalities in other endocrine glands. The researchers are also studying how to diagnose and treat adrenal gland disorders.

Adrenal Gland Disorder Research Activities and Advances

Through its intramural and extramural organizational units, NICHD supports and conducts a variety of research on adrenal gland disorders.

Citations

  1. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2010). 2010 annual report of the Division of Intramural Research: Diagnosis, localization, pathophysiology, and molecular biology of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from https://annualreport.nichd.nih.gov/2010/smn2.html
  2. Zhuang, Z., Yang, C., Lorenzo, F., Merino, M., Fojo, T., Kebebew, E., et al. (2012). Somatic HIF2A gain-of-function mutations in paraganglioma with polycythemia. New England Journal of Medicine, 367(10), 922–930. PMID: 22931260

 

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