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An Overview on Nelson's Syndrome

Sindhu Munnuri*

Department of Pharmacology, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India

Corresponding Author:
Sindhu Munnuri
Department of Pharmacology
Osmania University, Hyderabad, India
Tel: 7025365465
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: January 02, 2021; Accepted Date: January 18, 2021; Published Date: January 25, 2021

Citation: Munnuri S. Department of Pharmacology, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India. J Clin Mol Endocrinol. 2021, 6:1.34. doi:10.36648/2572-5432.6.1.34

Copyright: © Munnuri S. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Nelson’s syndrome is a potentially life-threatening condition that does not infrequently develop following total bilateral adrenalectomy (TBA) for the treatment of Cushing’s disease. In this review article, we discuss some controversial aspects of Nelson’s syndrome including diagnosis, predictive factors, aetiology, pathology and management based on data from the existing literature and the experience of our own tertiary centre.

Definitive diagnostic criteria for Nelson’s syndrome are lacking. We argue in favour of a new set of criteria. We propose that Nelson’s syndrome should be diagnosed in any patient with prior TBA for the treatment of Cushing’s disease and with at least one of the following criteria: i) an expanding pituitary mass lesion compared with pre-TBA images; ii) an elevated 0800 h plasma level of ACTH (O500 ng/l) in addition to progressive elevations of ACTH (a rise of O30%) on at least three consecutive occasions. Regarding predictive factors for the development of Nelson’s syndrome post TBA, current evidence favours the presence of residual pituitary tumour on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) post transsphenoidal surgery (TSS); an aggressive subtype of corticotrophinoma (based on MRI growth rapidity and histology of TSS samples); lack of prophylactic neoadjuvant pituitary radiotherapy at the time of TBA and a rapid rise of ACTH levels in year 1 post TBA. Finally, more studies are needed to assess the efficacy of therapeutic strategies in Nelson’s syndrome, including the alkylating agent, temozolomide, which holds promise as a novel and effective therapeutic agent in the treatment of associated aggressive corticotroph tumours. It is timely to review these controversies and to suggest guidelines for future audit.


Nelson’s syndrome; Cushing’s disease; ACTH; Pituitary adenoma


The essential treatment for Cushing's sickness is transsphenoidal adenomectomy; reduction rates are 70%–90%. In a metaexamination of 50 investigations performed by Roelfsema et al., biochemical abatement was found for 4207 (72.7%) of 5787 patients who had gone through a solitary surgery [1]. Nonetheless, stubborn hypercortisolemia from persevering or intermittent Cushing's sickness remains a remedial test. Therapy alternatives for Cushing's illness after fruitless transsphenoidal medical procedure incorporate rehash transsphenoidal medical procedure, radiation treatment, clinical treatment, and twosided adrenalectomy. Two-sided adrenalectomy speaks to a protected and compelling complete technique for patients who need prompt treatment for hypercortisolemia or who have been lethargic to numerous treatments for obstinate Cushing's infection. In 1958, Dr. Wear Nelson et al. detailed a case wherein a 33-year-elderly person, who had gone through respective adrenalectomy for Cushing's infection 3 years sooner, experienced skin hyperpigmentation, high plasma levels of adrenocorticotropic chemical (ACTH), and eventually a pituitary tumor [2]. By the 1960s, Nelson and different partners found that after two-sided adrenalectomy, ACTH-delivering pituitary tumors showed up in a few patients, subsequently prompting expanded degrees of ACTH and hyperpigmentation. Subsequently, these 3 manifestations have since become the clinical preliminary of Nelson's disorder. Since its underlying portrayal in Nelson's condition has caused worry for doctors treating obstinate Cushing's illness with two-sided adrenalectomy. Despite the fact that Nelson's condition is uncommon, treatments have changed. With the headways in neuroimaging and endocrinology, Nelson's disorder can be distinguished from the get-go in its course. Therapy choices incorporate perception, medical procedure, radiation treatment, and pharmacotherapy. We survey the clinical appearances, pathophysiology, and frequency of Nelson's condition; depict demonstrative strategies; and layout the different treatment modalities that have been utilized to mitigate manifestations [3].


Cortisol is a steroid chemical delivered in the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex. In ordinary physiological frameworks, it gives negative input on the arrival of corticotropin-delivering chemical created by the nerve center. Respective adrenalectomy is intended to control hypercortisolemia in patients with Cushing's sickness, in this way delivering the framework from the negativecriticism circle. Along a similar line, without negative criticism [4], it is conjectured that corticotropin-delivering chemical levels increment, prompting expanded creation of proopiomelanocortin and its resulting items ACTH and melanocyte-animating chemical. In an investigation of pituitary tissue from patients with Nelson's condition, the tumor was monoclonal and proopiomelanocortin mRNA and quality items were unaltered. In murine models, adrenalectomy prompted expanded corticotroph cell numbers, corticotroph cell hyperplasia, expanded articulation of arginine vasopressin, and expanded degrees of corticotropin-delivering chemical and proopiomelanocortin-determined quality items [5]. In a past work, ACTH-emitting pituitary tumors were appeared to overexpress vasopressin V3 and corticotropinreleasing chemical receptor qualities; this finding is critical on the grounds that it was recently indicated that both arginine vasopressin and corticotropin-delivering chemical incite multiplication in a corticotropic tumor cell line. Likewise as to negative input, in the previously mentioned in vitro model, expansion of the tumor cell line was fundamentally repressed by cortisol, and ACTH emission by the tumor cell line was expanded after brooding with corticotropinreleasing chemical yet not with arginine vasopressin. In a different in vitro study, cortisol smothered RNA and DNA blend in ACTH-emitting human pituitary tumor cell lines, which likewise affirms the negative-input circle. Of note, somatostatin-14 and somatostatin-28 smothered discharge of proopiomelanocortin-got peptides from a pituitary adenoma causing Nelson's condition, yet arginine vasopressin, vasoactive intestinal peptide, and oxytocin invigorated emission of proopiomelanocortin-inferred peptides [6]. In patients with Nelson's condition, constant imbuement of manufactured ovine corticotropin-delivering chemical at 1 mg for every kilogram every hour prompted expanded plasma ACTH, without desensitization of ACTH emission. Conversely, ovine corticotropin-delivering chemical didn't invigorate ACTH discharge at focuses from 1 × 10-13 M through 1 × 10-7 M in pituitary adenomas resected from patients with Nelson's disorder. In view of these investigations, an extra speculation can be created; recommending that if a patient with Cushing's infection had a lingering corticotroph adenoma and went through two-sided adrenalectomy, at that point the subsequent expanded arginine vasopressin and corticotropindelivering chemical would prompt the corticotroph tumor movement that has now gotten normal for Nelson's disorder [7].

Treatment Strategies


Albeit a few clinicians may consider starting perception with rehash imaging for Nelson's condition patients holding more modest, stable tumors that have not developed or that have shown restricted movement, perception is by and large not the primary line of treatment [8]. Whenever left untreated, the majority of these tumors will presumably advance and warrant treatment. In an examination by Kemink et al., perception was the treatment methodology for 8 of 15 patients. In these 8 patients, ACTH levels expanded between the hour of analysis and the hour of the last subsequent visit, and in each of the 8 patients, the tumor advanced with parasellar augmentation or suprasellar expansion. Of these 8 patients, 6 went through elective pituitary medical procedure [9].

Surgical Treatment

The primary line of treatment for Nelson's disorder is resection, which is performed fundamentally through a transsphenoidal approach or, less regularly, by means of a transcranial approach. One of the main reports of pituitary medical procedure for Nelson's condition was by Espinoza et al., who depicted 3 patients who had gone through transsphenoidal medical procedure for the evacuation of the ACTH-discharging pituitary adenomas [10]. Careful treatment empowers conceivably healing resection of the extending corticotroph tumor and decompression of the optic chiasm, if necessary. Lamentably, thinking about the uncommonness of Nelson's disorder, relatively few long haul case arrangement for this medical procedure have been contemplated, and with the current headways in nonsurgical treatments, the probability of finding any such arrangement will diminish [11].

Radiotherapy and Radiosurgery

Radiotherapy can be considered as a possibility for patients in whom medical procedure for Nelson's condition was fruitless or patients who are not ideal careful up-and-comers. One entanglement of radiotherapy is that it doesn't quickly diminish and standardize ACTH levels [12]. Accomplishing typical ACTH levels can require a long time to months, contingent upon the size of the tumor; then, control of extreme ACTH should be accomplished by another way, for example, clinical treatment. Likely confusions of radiation treatment incorporate radiationprompted optic neuropathy, hypopituitarism, radiation putrefaction, cerebral edema, and vasculopathy. Radiation treatment can likewise be utilized as an adjunctive therapy [13].

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) coordinates a few light emissions controlled radiation to a particular objective in the mind by a 3D coordination framework. Despite the fact that the low-controlled pillars forestall guarantee radiation injury to the mind [14], a solid radiation portion is conveyed to the point of assembly. One of the more normal radiosurgical strategies used to deal with Cushing's illness is GK radiosurgery [15].

Temozolomide is an orally directed alkylating specialist fit for intersection the blood-mind obstruction. Its dynamic structure is methyl-triazeno-imidazole-carboxamide, which methylates DNA at the O6 position of guanine [16]. Methylation prompts mispairing with thymine and nonstop mispairing in the end prompts apoptosis of the influenced cell [17]. The standard dose of temozolomide is 150–200 mg/m2 for 5 days in a 28-day cycle. Temozolomide was first utilized as a treatment for prolactinemitting pituitary adenomas [18].

Somatostatin analogs, for example, octreotide have been utilized in the treatment of Nelson's disorder [19]. ACTH-discharging pituitary adenomas essentially express somatostatin receptor (sst) 5, sst1, and sst2. Octreotide has a solid restricting liking to sst2 and just a moderate restricting proclivity to sst5 [20].


Nelson's disorder remains a difficult neuroendocrine condition related with critical horribleness after respective adrenalectomy for Cushing's illness. As medicines for Cushing's illness become more refined and move away from reciprocal adrenalectomy, the occurrence of Nelson's disorder will normally diminish. This survey ought to encourage the conclusion and comprehension of the rules of Nelson's condition. This portrayal of treatments ought to be utilized to decide the best treatment methodology for a patient with Nelson's disorder and should impact future examinations that may explain current debates with multimodal the executives.


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