The pituitary-adrenal axis in idiopathic retinal vasculitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • H E Palmer
  • M R Stanford
  • C Lowy
  • M J Wheeler
  • E M Graham

Colleges, School and Institutes


AIMS: To determine whether patients with idiopathic retinal vasculitis have altered production of cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S), and whether differences in these variables occur between those who are sensitive (SS) and resistant (SR) to steroids.

METHODS: 20 patients with retinal vasculitis (off treatment) and 10 control subjects were prospectively recruited. Morning cortisol and DHEA-S levels were measured, and cortisol secretion rates and short synacthen tests (SST) carried out in patients before treatment, when on prednisolone 20 mg/day, and in controls.

RESULTS: There were no differences in any variables between patients and controls. For retinal vasculitis patients pretreatment, the SST was lower in SR patients (p=0.02). More of the SR patients had ischaemic retinal vasculitis ( p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Cortisol and DHEA-S are not involved in the pathogenesis of retinal vasculitis. SR in retinal vasculitis may be associated with a defective hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1393-5
Number of pages3
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999


  • Adult, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate, Drug Resistance, Female, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Male, Pituitary-Adrenal System, Prednisolone, Prospective Studies, Retinal Diseases, Retinal Vessels, Vasculitis