Mifepristone as Bridge or Adjunct Therapy in the Management of Challenging Cushing Disease Cases

Alice Y. Chang, Sasan Mirfakhraee, Elizabeth E. King, Jennifer U. Mercado, Diane M. Donegan, Kevin C.J. Yuen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Establishing a definitive diagnosis of Cushing disease (CD), given its clinical and biochemical heterogeneity, initiating effective treatment to control the effects of hypercortisolism, and managing recurrence are challenging disease aspects to address. Mifepristone is a competitive glucocorticoid receptor antagonist that is approved in the US by the Food and Drug Administration to control hyperglycemia secondary to endogenous hypercortisolism (Cushing syndrome) in patients who have glucose intolerance or type 2 diabetes mellitus and have failed surgery or are not candidates for surgery. Herein, we describe 6 patients with CD who received mifepristone as adjunct/bridge therapy in the following clinical settings: to assess clinical benefits of treatment for suspected recurrent disease, to control hypercortisolism preoperatively for severe disease, to control hypercortisolism during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide adjunctive treatment to radiation therapy. The patients were treated at multiple medical practice settings. Mifepristone treatment in each of the described cases was associated with clinical improvements, including improvements in overall glycemia, hypertension, and weight loss. In addition, in one case where biochemical and radiological evidence of disease recurrence was uncertain, clinical improvement with mifepristone pointed toward likely disease recurrence. Adverse events associated with mifepristone reported in the 6 cases were consistent with those previously reported in the pivotal trial and included cortisol withdrawal symptoms, antiprogesterone effects (vaginal bleeding), hypothyroidism (treated with levothyroxine), and hypokalemia (treated with spironolactone). These cases show how mifepristone can potentially be utilized as a therapeutic trial in equivocal cases of CD recurrence; as a presurgical treatment strategy, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic; and as bridge therapy, while awaiting the effects of radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Medicine Insights: Endocrinology and Diabetes
StatePublished - 2021


  • Cushing Syndrome
  • Cushing disease
  • Radiation
  • Recurrence
  • bridge therapy
  • mifepristone
  • presurgical
  • radiation therapy
  • recurrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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