syndrome is a medical condition in which the adrenal
glands produce excess amounts of glucocorticoids.
Glucocorticoids are hormones
which the body normally releases in response to stress,
such as danger or threat. They serve useful functions of helping
the body and brain to mobilize and react to stress, such as
initiating the body's "fight-or-flight
response" to danger. However, overproduction of glucocorticoids
can cause negative effects such as hypertension (high blood
pressure), diabetes, and suppression of the immune
system, making the body more vulnerable to disease and injury.
Cushing's syndrome can also cause symptoms including obesity,
fatigue and weakness, impotence, osteoporosis,
and skin discoloration.
Cushing's syndrome may be caused by a tumor of the adrenal gland,
or by excess stimulation of the adrenal gland (for example by
disfunction of the pituitary gland,
which normally signals the adrenal glands to begin production
of glucocorticoids). Cushing's syndrome can also develop in
patients given long-term administration of corticosteroids (such
as some asthma medications). Treatment of the underlying cause
can often reverse the symptoms of Cushing's syndrome.
by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain