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CONTEXT: The adrenocorticotropin hormone stimulation test (AST) is used to diagnose adrenal insufficiency, and is often repeated in patients when monitoring recovery of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. OBJECTIVE: To develop and validate a prediction model that uses previous AST results with new baseline cortisol to predict the result of a new AST. METHODS: This was a retrospective, longitudinal cohort study in patients who had undergone at least 2 ASTs, using polynomial regression with backwards variable selection, at a Tertiary UK adult endocrinology center. Model was developed from 258 paired ASTs over 5 years in 175 adults (mean age 52.4 years, SD 16.4), then validated on data from 111 patients over 1 year (51.8, 17.5) from the same center, data collected after model development. Candidate prediction variables included previous test baseline adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH), previous test baseline and 30-minute cortisol, days between tests, and new baseline ACTH and cortisol used with calculated cortisol/ACTH ratios to assess 8 candidate predictors. The main outcome measure was a new test cortisol measured 30 minutes after Synacthen administration. RESULTS: Using 258 sequential ASTs from 175 patients for model development and 111 patient tests for model validation, previous baseline cortisol, previous 30-minute cortisol and new baseline cortisol were superior at predicting new 30-minute cortisol (R2 = 0.71 [0.49-0.93], area under the curve [AUC] = 0.97 [0.94-1.0]) than new baseline cortisol alone (R2 = 0.53 [0.22-0.84], AUC = 0.88 [0.81-0.95]). CONCLUSION: Results of a previous AST can be objectively combined with new early-morning cortisol to predict the results of a new AST better than new early-morning cortisol alone. An online calculator is available at for external validation.

Original publication




Journal article


J Endocr Soc

Publication Date





adrenal insufficiency, adrenocorticotropin stimulation test, cortisol, predictive model, short Synacthen test