Alteration of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal glands axis in colorectal cancer patients.

Chiara Mussi, Carlo Angelini, Stefano Crippa, Roberto Caprotti, Luca Fumagalli, Vittorio Motta, Franco Uggeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND/AIMS: in advanced cancer patients a cell-mediated immunological impairment, both at baseline and during postoperative period (surgical trauma response) is often found and is associated with poor prognosis. Furthermore it is well known that cortisol is strictly involved in the response to major surgical stress, has an important immunosuppression activity and causes a redistribution of immunological population cells in different tissues. The aim of the study was to verify serum levels and circadian rhythm of cortisol and ACTH in patients with colorectal cancer at baseline before surgery and in the postoperative period, and relate it to the immune status. METHODOLOGY: 40 patients (22 female, 18 male with a median age of 66 yrs) with histologically proven colorectal cancer undergoing to surgery were enrolled in the study. Assessment of total lymphocyte, CD4+, cortisol level, circadian rhythm of cortisol (11 pm and 8 am) was performed at baseline and in 3rd and 7th postoperative days. ACTH levels (11 pm and 8 am) were studied in 18 patients. RESULTS: increase of cortisol serum level in the post-operative period vs baseline was statistically significant both in 3rd and 7th days. A significant decrease of total and CD4+ lymphocytes count was found on both 3rd and 7th postoperative days compared to baseline and to normal values. The rate of patients with an altered circadian rhythm was 68% and 53% at 3rd and 7th postoperative days respectively. At baseline 28% of patients had an altered cortisol circadian rhythm and it was significantly more frequent in patients with nodal involvement (P

Original languageEnglish
Volume50 Suppl 2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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