Carbergoline monotherapy in the long-term treatment of Cushing's Disease
Background: Cabergoline is a long-acting dopamine receptor agonist used to treat prolactinomas. Identification of D(2) receptors in corticotroph tumors led to clinical trials of cabergoline therapy in limited cases of Nelson's syndrome, ectopic ACTH-secreting tumors, and recently Cushing's disease (CD).
Objective: To evaluate the long-term efficacy of cabergoline monotherapy in patients with CD.
Methods: Retrospective analysis of non-randomized clinical therapy with cabergoline in 30 patients with CD treated in academic centers of Buenos Aires and Montreal. Cabergoline was initiated at 0.5-1.0 mg/week and adjusted up to a maximal dose of 6 mg/week based on urinary free cortisol (UFC) levels. Complete response to cabergoline was defined as a sustained normalization of UFC with at least two normal values measured at 1-3 months interval; partial response was defined as a decrease of UFC to <125% of the upper limit of normal, and treatment failure as UFC ≥ 125% of it.
Results: Within 3-6 months, complete response was achieved in 11 patients (36.6%) and partial response in 4 patients (13.3%). After long-term therapy, nine patients (30%) remain with a complete response after a mean of 37 months (range from 12 to 60 months) with a mean dose of 2.1 mg/week of cabergoline. Two patients escaped after 2 and 5 years of complete response, but one patient transiently renormalized UFC after an increase in cabergoline dosage. No long-term response was maintained in four initial partial responders.
Conclusions: Cabergoline monotherapy can provide an effective long-term medical therapy for selected patients with CD, but requires close follow-up for dose adjustments.