What Is Mifepristone Used For?

Using Mifepristone to Treat Hyperglycemia in People With Cushing's Syndrome

Cushing's syndrome is a disorder that occurs when the body is exposed to high levels of cortisol, a hormone made by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Cortisol regulates the effects of insulin in breaking down sugar for energy and increases blood sugar levels.
Treatment for Cushing's syndrome depends in part on the specific cause of the excess cortisol production. Surgery is often used when tumors are involved. However, surgery is not always successful. Also, some people may not be suitable candidates for surgery.
Mifepristone is approved for use in people with Cushing's syndrome who have type 2 diabetes or glucose intolerance from high cortisol levels (hypercortisolemia). It is meant for use in people who did not respond to surgery or cannot have surgery. Mifepristone is only approved to control hyperglycemia in people with type 2 diabetes due to Cushing's syndrome.

How Does This Medication Work?

Mifepristone works to end a pregnancy by blocking the action of progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone that prepares the lining of the uterus for a fertilized egg and is necessary for pregnancy to continue. When mifepristone blocks progesterone, the lining of the uterus softens and breaks down, ending the pregnancy.
If mifepristone does not cause an abortion alone, misoprostol is given two days later. Misoprostol is a type of prostaglandin, a hormone-like substance found naturally in the body. It causes the uterus to contract and push out the products of conception.
Mifepristone is also a cortisol receptor blocker. It works in people with type 2 diabetes or glucose intolerance by preventing cortisol from binding to its receptor, thereby reducing the effects of cortisol, such as high blood sugar. Mifepristone does not decrease the production of cortisol by the body.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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