DOI: 10.1373/clinchem.2011.167015


A 53-year-old man experienced periodic abdominal discomfort and a decreased capacity to work. His primary physician ordered a broad range of laboratory tests as part of the initial workup. The results revealed a greatly increased adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)7 concentration of >1250 pg/mL (>278 pmol/L) [reference interval <46 pg/mL (<10.2 pmol/L)]. Cortisol was within the reference interval. Repeat measurements 4 weeks later confirmed the increased ACTH. Investigators rapidly excluded 2 well-known conditions associated with increased ACTH concentrations: Cushing disease (ACTH-producing pituitary tumor) and Addison disease (adrenal insufficiency) (1, 2). An investigation for an ectopic source of ACTH was begun (3).