Adrenal Insufficiency at the Time of COVID-19: A Retrospective Study in Patients Referring to a Tertiary Center

Giulia Carosi, Valentina Morelli, Giulia Del Sindaco, Andreea Liliana Serban, Arianna Cremaschi, Sofia Frigerio, Giulia Rodari, Eriselda Profka, Rita Indirli, Roberta Mungari, Veronica Resi, Emanuela Orsi, Emanuele Ferrante, Alessia Dolci, Claudia Giavoli, Maura Arosio, Giovanna Mantovani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CONTEXT: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) represents a global health emergency, and infected patients with chronic diseases often present with a severe impairment. Adrenal insufficiency (AI) is supposed to be associated with an increased infection risk, which could trigger an adrenal crisis. OBJECTIVE: Our primary aim was to evaluate the incidence of COVID-19 symptoms and complications in AI patients. DESIGN AND SETTING: We conducted a retrospective case-control study. All patients were on active follow-up and lived in Lombardy, Italy, one of the most affected areas. PATIENTS: We enrolled 279 patients with primary and secondary AI and 112 controls (patients with benign pituitary lesions without hormonal alterations). All AI patients had been previously trained to modify their replacement therapy on stress doses. INTERVENTION: By administering a standardized questionnaire by phone, we collected data on COVID-19 suggestive symptoms and consequences. RESULTS: In February through April 2020, the prevalence of symptomatic patients (complaining at least 1 symptom of viral infection) was similar between the 2 groups (24% in AI and 22.3% in controls, P = 0.79). Highly suggestive COVID-19 symptoms (at least 2 including fever and/or cough) also occurred equally in AI and controls (12.5% in both groups). No patient required hospitalization and no adrenal crisis was reported. Few nasopharyngeal swabs were performed (n = 12), as indicated by sanitary regulations, limiting conclusions on the exact infection rate (2 positive results in AI and none in controls, P = 0.52). CONCLUSIONS: AI patients who are adequately treated and trained seem to display the same incidence of COVID-19-suggestive symptoms and disease severity as controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1354-e1361
JournalThe Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 8 2021


  • adrenal insufficiency
  • COVID-19
  • hypopituitarism
  • infectious diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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