Immune and endocrine mechanisms of advanced cancer-related hypercortisolemia

Paolo Lissoni, F. Brivio, L. Fumagalli, G. Messina, G. Secreto, B. Romelli, G. Fumagalli, F. Rovelli, M. Colciago, G. Brera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cancer progression depend on the immune and endocrine status of the patients. In particular, it has been observed that abnormally high levels of cortisol and/or an altered circadian secretion are associated with a poor prognosis in advanced cancer patients. The present study was performed to establish whether cancer-induced hypercortisolemia depends on an activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis or on a direct adrenal stimulation by inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-6, which have been proven to induce cortisol secretion. Patients and Methods: The study included 50 metastatic solid tumor patients, who were evaluated before the onset of chemotherapy. Venous blood samples were collected in the morning to measure IL-10, IL-6, ACTH and cortisol serum levels. Moreover, to analyze its circadian secretion, cortisol levels were also evaluated on venous blood samples collected at 4.00 p.m. Results: Abnormally high morning levels of cortisol were observed in 19/50 (38%) patients. Moreover, a lack of a normal circadian rhythm of cortisol was seen in 8/50 (16%) patients. None of the patients showed high levels of ACTH. Abnormally high concentrations of IL-6 and IL-10 were present in 21/50 (42%) and in 14/50 (28%) patients, respectively. Mean serum levels of both IL-6 and IL-10 were significantly higher in patients with hypercortisolemia than in those with normal cortisol values (p

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-650
Number of pages4
JournalIn Vivo
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


  • Cancer
  • Cortisol rhythm
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-6

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Immune and endocrine mechanisms of advanced cancer-related hypercortisolemia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this