It took 30 years for the desmopressin test to be initially described. The test was designed to aid in diagnosing Cushing’s syndrome since it considered how desmopressin’s secretagogue qualities differed between normal and corticotroph tumor cells in terms of ACTH release.

It was claimed that the test could help with the etiological diagnosis of ACTH-dependent Cushing’s disease by the unique expression of the numerous arginine vasopressin receptors between normal pituitary, corticotroph tumors, and neuroendocrine tumor cells secreting ACTH ectopically. For a study, researchers examined the benefits and drawbacks of desmopressin in diagnosing Cushing’s syndrome. Although desmopressin response cannot fully distinguish between the numerous causes of Cushing’s disease, it was more widely used to establish that the pituitary is the source of excessive ACTH by inferior petrosal sinus sampling.

Desmopressin can also be helpful to show appropriate corticotroph tumor removal after its stimulatory effect wears off after pituitary surgery for Cushing’s disease patients. However, desmopressin response may potentially be a sign of longer-term postoperative recurrence risk. The study also emphasized the need for more studies on the efficacy of desmopressin and the absence of generally accepted standards for what constitutes a normal or abnormal response to the hormone.