Mifepristone: Is there a place in the treatment of Cushing's disease?

John D. Carmichael, Maria Fleseriu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The purpose was to review the use of mifepristone in the treatment of Cushing's syndrome (CS) in the context of other recently published studies. We review the use of mifepristone, as published in the recent Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Mifepristone in the Treatment of Endogenous Cushing's Syndrome (SEISMIC). We also review the multiple case reports and case series of mifepristone use in CS. A review of other medications used in the treatment of Cushing's disease (CD), including pasireotide and cabergoline also provides context for the discussion of the role of mifepristone in the treatment of CD. The results show that the treatment of CD has been primarily surgical with medical therapy reserved for adjuvant therapy when primary treatment fails or other therapies require time for optimal efficacy. Two recent large prospective studies, using pasireotide and mifepristone provide new clinical insights to the medical treatment of CD in particular. Mifepristone has been used to treat excessive cortisol production by blocking the action of cortisol at the level of the glucocorticoid receptor. Until recently, the majority of clinical experience with mifepristone on the treatment of excess cortisol was derived from case reports and small case series. Based on the SEISMIC study, mifepristone was FDA approved for hyperglycemia associated with CS. In conclusion the role of mifepristone in the treatment of CD remains one of adjuvant therapy. Its place among other choices for medical therapy has yet to be firmly established and an evidenced-based approach toward the use of novel medications in the treatment of CD has not been made. Selection of medication depends on drug approval and availability in individual countries and requires cautious assessment of potential adverse effects, consideration of patient comorbidities, and efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-32
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Cushing's disease
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Hypercortisolism
  • Mifepristone
  • Pasireotide
  • Pituitary tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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