Journal of the Endocrine Society
Oxford University Press
SUN-307 Partial Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency and Growth Hormone Deficiency in Fibromyalgia
DOI 10.1210/jendso/bvaa046.922, Volume: 4, Issue: Suppl 1,




Introduction: Low or borderline cortisol concentrations and impaired response to dynamic testing have been reported in patients with fibromyalgia, potentially related to hypothalamus-pituitary dysfunction.1,2 Superimposed adrenal insufficiency (AI) may contribute to some fibromyalgia symptoms or delay improvement in patients enrolled in fibromyalgia treatment programs. We hypothesized that a subset of patients with fibromyalgia have: 1) partial secondary AI and concomitant growth hormone (GH) deficiency 2) a discordance in Cosyntropin stimulation test and 3) improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms with initiation of glucocorticoid and/or GH replacement.

Design: This was a retrospective study of patients with fibromyalgia diagnosed with partial secondary AI based on abnormal insulin tolerance test (peak cortisol < 18 mcg/dL) at our institution from June 2002 to August 2019. Patients were excluded if they had other reasons for adrenal insufficiency, including steroid exposure and opioid use.

Results: We identified 22 patients (18 women, 82%) diagnosed with partial AI at a median age of 38 years (range 19-65). The fibromyalgia symptoms included fatigue (n=22, 100%), pain (n=22, 100%), sleep disturbance (n=15, 68%), and bowel changes (n=13, 59%). The median morning cortisol concentration was 8.6 mcg/dL (range 1.1-11); 9 patients (41%) had a morning cortisol concentration below the normal range (7 mcg/dL). The median ACTH level was 15.5 pg/mL (range 7.7-54). Nineteen patients had baseline IGF1 levels, with a median z-score of -0.94 (range -1.96 to 1.70). MRI pituitary imaging was performed in 20 patients and showed no significant pituitary pathology.

All patients achieved hypoglycemia <=40 mg/dL during the insulin tolerance test. Peak median cortisol level was 11 mcg/dL (range 5.4-17). Nineteen patients (86%) also had partial GH deficiency (defined as a peak GH < 4 ng/mL) with a median GH level of 0.36 ng/mL (range 0.03-3.83). Cosyntropin stimulation test was performed in 13 patients (59%) with a 1 mcg dose in 2 patients and 250 mcg dose in 11 patients. The peak cortisol was >=18 mcg/dL in 10 (77%) patients. All patients were started on physiologic glucocorticoid replacement, and 12 patients were started on GH replacement. Endocrinology follow-up information was available for 13 patients, and 8 (62%) reported symptom improvement after starting treatment.

Conclusions: Patients with fibromyalgia can have co-existing partial secondary AI and GH deficiency as defined by insulin-induced hypoglycemia. Cosyntropin stimulation test can be used in patients with fibromyalgia, but a normal test does not rule out partial secondary AI. Replacing the underlying deficiency improved symptoms in some patients demonstrating certain fibromyalgia symptoms may overlap with AI and GH deficiency.

1Gur et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2004. 63(11):1504-1506.

2Kirnap et al. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2001. 55(4):455-459.

Gruber, Nanda, Nippoldt, Chang, and Bancos: SUN-307 Partial Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency and Growth Hormone Deficiency in Fibromyalgia Partial Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency and Growth Hormone Deficiency in Fibromyalgia&author=Lucinda Gruber,Sanjeev Nanda,Todd B Nippoldt,Alice Y Chang,Irina Bancos,&keyword=&subject=Neuroendocrinology and Pituitary,Neuroendocrine & Pituitary Pathologies,AcademicSubjects/MED00250,