Comparison of serum cortisol measurement by immunoassay and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in patients receiving the 11β-hydroxylase inhibitor metyrapone

Phillip J. Monaghan, Laura J. Owen, Peter J. Trainer, Georg Brabant, Brian G. Keevil, Denise Darby

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Background: The accurate measurement of cortisol by immunoassay is compromised by the potential for cross-reactivity of reagent antibodies with structurally related steroids present in serum. This susceptibility is potentiated when normal steroid metabolism is altered pharmaceutically by antisteroidogenic drugs utilized in the management of Cushing's syndrome to moderate cortisol production. The clinical implications of falsely elevated cortisol results include over-treatment and unrecognized hypoadrenalism. To investigate the effect of the 11β-hydroxylase inhibitor metyrapone on serum cortisol assay, a comparison of measurement by immunoassay versus liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was conducted. Methods: Cortisol was measured in serum from three patient groups: (1) patients receiving metyrapone (n = 112 samples from 10 patients); (2) control group of patients diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome currently receiving no treatment (n = 31); and (3) control group of patients with no adrenal pathology and not receiving medication known to interfere in cortisol immunoassay (n = 67). Results: Bland-Altman plots showed agreement between methods for the control group (bias = 1.1% [24.3 nmol/L]) and Cushing's control group (bias = 1.3% [23.7 nmol/L]). This was in stark contrast to the metyrapone therapy group (bias = 23% [59 nmol/L]). The difference between LC-MS/MS versus immunoassay in the metyrapone therapy group positively correlated with metyrapone dose and serum 11-deoxycortisol concentration (Pearson's correlation coefficient r = 0.47, 95% CI 0.32-0.61; P <0.0001). Conclusions: These data show that liability of immunoassay measurement of serum cortisol to interference in patients receiving metyrapone may lead to erroneous clinical decisions concerning dose titration.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)441-446
    Number of pages5
    JournalAnnals of Clinical Biochemistry
    Volume48
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011

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