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Objective: Registry data show that Cushing's syndrome (CS) and adrenal insufficiency (AI) increase mortality rates associated with infectious diseases. Little information is available on susceptibility to milder forms of infections, especially those not requiring hospitalization. This study aimed to investigate infectious diseases in patients with glucocorticoid disorders through the development of a specific tool. Methods: We developed and administered the InfeCtions in pAtients with endocRinOpathies (ICARO) questionnaire, addressing infectious events over a 12-month observation period, to 1017 outpatients referred to 4 University Hospitals. The ICARO questionnaire showed good test-retest reliability. The odds of infection (OR (95% CI)) were estimated after adjustment for confounders and collated into the ICARO score, reflecting the frequency and duration of infections. Results: In total, 780 patients met the inclusion criteria: 43 with CS, 32 with adrenal incidentaloma and mild autonomous cortisol secretion (MACS), and 135 with AI, plus 570 controls. Compared to controls, CS was associated with higher odds of urinary tract infections (UTIs) (5.1 (2.3-9.9)), mycoses (4.4 (2.1-8.8)), and flu (2.9 (1.4-5.8)). Patients with adrenal incidentaloma and MACS also showed an increased risk of UTIs (3.7 (1.7-8.0)) and flu (3.2 (1.5-6.9)). Post-dexamethasone cortisol levels correlated with the ICARO score in patients with CS. AI was associated with higher odds of UTIs (2.5 (1.6-3.9)), mycoses (2.3 (1.4-3.8)), and gastrointestinal infections (2.2 (1.5-3.3)), independently of any glucocorticoid replacement dose. Conclusions: The ICARO tool revealed a high prevalence of self-reported infections in patients with glucocorticoid disorders. ICARO is the first of its kind questionnaire, which could be a valuable tool for monitoring infections in various clinical settings.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Endocrinol

Publication Date





719 - 731


Adrenal Gland Neoplasms, Adrenal Insufficiency, Cushing Syndrome, Dexamethasone, Glucocorticoids, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Reproducibility of Results