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Open access

Lina Schiffer, Alicia Bossey, Punith Kempegowda, Angela E Taylor, Ildem Akerman, Dagmar Scheel-Toellner, Karl-Heinz Storbeck, and Wiebke Arlt

Objective

Androgens are important modulators of immune cell function. The local generation of active androgens from circulating precursors is an important mediator of androgen action in peripheral target cells or tissues. We aimed to characterize the activation of classic and 11-oxygenated androgens in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).

Methods

PBMCs were isolated from healthy male donors and incubated ex vivo with precursors and active androgens of the classic and 11-oxygenated androgen pathways. Steroids were quantified by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The expression of genes encoding steroid-metabolizing enzymes was assessed by quantitative PCR.

Results

PBMCs generated eight-fold higher amounts of the active 11-oxygenated androgen 11-ketotestosterone than the classic androgen testosterone from their respective precursors. We identified the enzyme AKR1C3 as the major reductive 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in PBMCs responsible for both conversions and found that within the PBMC compartment natural killer cells are the major site of AKRC13 expression and activity. Steroid 5α-reductase type 1 catalyzed the 5α-reduction of classic but not 11-oxygenated androgens in PBMCs. Lag time prior to the separation of cellular components from whole blood increased serum 11-ketotestosterone concentrations in a time-dependent fashion, with significant increases detected from two hours after blood collection.

Conclusions

11-Oxygenated androgens are the preferred substrates for androgen activation by AKR1C3 in PBMCs, primarily conveyed by natural killer cell AKR1C3 activity, yielding 11-ketotestosterone the major active androgen in PBMCs. Androgen metabolism by PBMCs can affect the results of serum 11-ketotestosterone measurements, if samples are not separated in a timely fashion.

Significance statement

We show that human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) preferentially activate 11-ketotestosterone rather than testosterone when incubated with precursors of both the classic and the adrenal-derived 11-oxygenated androgen biosynthesis pathways. We demonstrate that this activity is catalyzed by the enzyme AKR1C3, which we found to primarily reside in natural killer cells, major contributors to the anti-viral immune defense. This potentially links intracrine 11-oxygenated androgen generation to the previously observed decreased NK cell cytotoxicity and increased infection risk in primary adrenal insufficiency. In addition, we show that PBMCs continue to generate 11-ketotestosterone if the cellular component of whole blood samples is not removed in a timely fashion, which could affect measurements of this active androgen in routine clinical biochemistry.

Open access

Dina B Stensen, Lars Småbrekke, Karina Olsen, Guri Grimnes, Christopher Sivert Nielsen, Johanna U E Sollid, Gunnar Skov Simonsen, Bjørg Almås, and Anne-Sofie Furberg

Objective

Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen, and nasal carriers have an increased risk for infection and disease. The exploration of host determinants for nasal carriage is relevant to decrease infection burden. Former studies demonstrate lower carriage prevalence in women and among users of progestin-only contraceptives. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible associations between circulating sex-steroid hormones and nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus in a general population.

Methods

In the population-based sixth Tromsø study (2007–2008) nurses collected nasal swab samples from 724 women aged 30–87 not using any exogenous hormones, and 700 of the women had a repeated nasal swab taken (median interval 28 days). We analysed a panel of serum sex-steroids by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, and collected information about lifestyle, health and anthropometric measures. Multivariable logistic regression was used to study the association between circulating sex-steroids and Staphylococcus aureus carriage (one swab) and persistent carriage (two swabs), while adjusting for potential confounding factors. Women in luteal phase were excluded in the analysis of androgens.

Results

Staphylococcus aureus persistent nasal carriage prevalence was 22%. One standard deviation increase in testosterone and bioavailable testosterone was associated with lower odds of persistent nasal carriage, (OR = 0.57; 95% CI = 0.35–0.92 and OR = 0.52, 95% CI = 0.30–0.92) respectively. Analysis stratified by menopause gave similar findings. Persistent carriers had lower average levels of androstenedione and DHEA, however, not statistically significant.

Conclusion

This large population-based study supports that women with lower levels of circulating testosterone may have increased probability of Staphylococcus aureus persistent carriage.

Open access

Peter Bang, Joachim Woelfle, Valerie Perrot, Caroline Sert, and Michel Polak

Objective

The European Increlex® Growth Forum Database Registry monitors the effectiveness and safety of recombinant human insulin-like growth factor-1 (rhIGF1; mecasermin, Increlex®) therapy in patients with severe primary IGF1 deficiency (SPIGFD). We present data from patients with and without a reported genetic diagnosis of Laron syndrome (LS).

Design

Ongoing, open-label, observational registry (NCT00903110).

Methods

Children and adolescents receiving rhIGF1 therapy from 10 European countries were enrolled in 2008–2017 (n = 242). The treatment-naïve/prepubertal (NPP) cohort (n = 138) was divided into subgroups based on reported genetic diagnosis of LS (n = 21) or non-LS (n = 117). Multivariate analysis of the NPP-non-LS subgroup was conducted to identify factors predictive of growth response (first-year-height standard deviation score (SDS) gain ≥ 0.3). Assessments included change in height and weight over 5 years and adverse events (AEs).

Results

Height SDS gain from baseline was greater in the NPP-LS than the NPP-non-LS subgroup after 1 years’ treatment (P < 0.05). In the NPP-non-LS subgroup, 56% were responders; young age at baseline was a positive independent predictive factor (P < 0.001). NPP-non-LS-responders and the NPP-LS subgroup had a similar mean age (6.07 years vs 7.00 years) at baseline and height SDS gain in year 1 (0.64 vs 0.70), although NPP-non-LS-responders were taller (P < 0.001) at baseline. BMI SDS changes did not differ across subgroups. Treatment-emergent AEs were experienced by 65.3% of patients; hypoglycaemia was most common.

Conclusions

In most NPP children with SPIGFD, with or without LS, rhIGF1 therapy promotes linear growth. The safety profile was consistent with previous studies.

Open access

Xiaozhen Ye, Heng Zhao, Jun Liu, Bin Lu, Jiaqing Shao, and Jian Wang

Background

Tripterygium glycosides (TG) has been used to treat a spectrum of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Our preliminary studies have shown that TG is effective in the treatment of active Graves’ ophthalmopathy (GO).

Objective

We aimed to compare the efficacy and tolerability of TG with intravenous methylprednisolone (iv.MP) in patients with active moderate-to-severe GO.

Methods

This study was an observer-masked, single-centre, block-randomised trial. Patients with active moderate-to-severe GO were randomly assigned to receive iv.MP (500 mg once per week for 6 weeks followed by 250 mg per week for 6 weeks) or with TG (20 mg tablet three times per day for 24 weeks). The primary endpoints were the overall response rate and the patients’ quality of life at 12 and 24 weeks.

Results

In this study, 161 patients were enrolled and randomised from 2015 to 2019. A total of 79 were randomly assigned to receive iv.MP and 82 to receive TG. A greater overall response rate was found in the TG group compared with the iv.MP group at week 24 (90.2% vs 68.4%, P = 0.000). Similarly, the patients’ quality of life of the TG group showed a significantly higher response than the iv.MP group at week 24 (89.02% vs 72.15%, P = 0.001). The TG therapy showed a better CAS response than the iv.MP (91.5% vs 70.9% improved, P < 0.05), and up to 91.2% of patients were inactive. Also, the TG group showed a significantly higher improved rate of diplopia, proptosis, visual acuity, soft tissue involved and the decrease of eye muscle motility than the iv.MP group at week 24. Significantly more patients in the iv.MP group than the TG group experienced adverse events.

Conclusion

Compared with iv.MP treatment, TG therapy is more effective and safer for patients with active moderate to severe GO.

Open access

Luciana Martel-Duguech, Jens Otto L Jorgensen, Márta Korbonits, Gudmundur Johannsson, Susan M Webb, and the ESE AGHD Study Group for a Pan-European audit

Guidelines recommend adults with pituitary disease in whom GH therapy is contemplated, to be tested for GH deficiency (AGHD); however, clinical practice is not uniform.

Aims

(1) To record current practice of AGHD management throughout Europe and benchmark it against guidelines; (2) To evaluate educational status of healthcare professionals about AGHD.

Design

Online survey in endocrine centres throughout Europe.

Patients and methods

Endocrinologists voluntarily completed an electronic questionnaire regarding AGHD patients diagnosed or treated in 2017–2018.

Results

Twenty-eight centres from 17 European countries participated, including 2139 AGHD patients, 28% of childhood-onset GHD. Aetiology was most frequently non-functioning pituitary adenoma (26%), craniopharyngioma (13%) and genetic/congenital midline malformations (13%). Diagnosis of GHD was confirmed by a stimulation test in 52% (GHRH+arginine: 45%; insulin-tolerance: 42%, glucagon: 6%; GHRH alone and clonidine tests: 7%); in the remaining, ≥3 pituitary deficiencies and low serum IGF-I were diagnostic. Initial GH dose was lower in older patients, but only women <26 years were prescribed a higher dose than men; dose titration was based on normal serum IGF-I, tolerance and side-effects. In one country, AGHD treatment was not approved. Full public reimbursement was not available in four countries and only in childhood-onset GHD in another. AGHD awareness was low among non-endocrine professionals and healthcare administrators. Postgraduate AGHD curriculum training deserves being improved.

Conclusion

Despite guideline recommendations, GH replacement in AGHD is still not available or reimbursed in all European countries. Knowledge among professionals and health administrators needs improvement to optimise the care of adults with GHD.

Open access

Irina Bacila, Nicole Freeman, Eleni Daniel, Marija Sandrk, Jillian Bryce, Salma Rashid Ali, Zehra Yavas Abalı, Navoda Atapattu, Tania A Bachega, Antonio Balsamo, Niels Birkebæk, Oliver Blankenstein, Walter Bonfig, Martine Cools, Eduardo Correa Costa, Feyza Darendeliler, Silvia Einaudi, Heba Hassan Elsedfy, Martijn Finken, Evelien Gevers, Hedi L Claahsen-van der Grinten, Tulay Guran, Ayla Güven, Sabine E. Hannema, Claire E Higham, Violeta Iotova, Hetty J. van der Kamp, Marta Korbonits, Ruth E Krone, Corina Lichiardopol, Andrea Luczay, Berenice Bilharinho Mendonca, Tatjana Milenkovic, Mirela C Miranda, Klaus Mohnike, Uta Neumann, Rita Ortolano, Sukran Poyrazoglu, Ajay Thankamony, Jeremy W Tomlinson, Ana Vieites, Liat de Vries, S Faisal Ahmed, Richard J Ross, and Nils P Krone

Objective: Despite published guidelines no unified approach to hormone replacement in congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) exists. We aimed to explore geographical and temporal variations in the treatment with glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids in CAH.

Design: This retrospective multi-center study, including 31 centers (16 countries), analyzed data from the International-CAH Registry.

Methods: Data was collected from 461 patients aged 0-18 years with classic 21-hydroxylase deficiency (54.9% females) under follow-up between 1982 – 2018. Type, dose and timing of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid replacement was analyzed from 4174 patient visits.

Results: The most frequently used glucocorticoid was hydrocortisone (87.6%). Overall, there were significant differences between age groups with regards to daily hydrocortisone-equivalent dose for body surface, with the lowest dose (median with interquartile range) of 12.0 (10.0 – 14.5) mg/ m2/ day at age 1 - 8 years and the highest dose of 14.0 (11.6 - 17.4) mg/ m2/ day at age 12-18 years. Glucocorticoid doses decreased after 2010 in patients 0-8 years (p<0.001) and remained unchanged in patients aged 8-18 years. Fludrocortisone was used in 92% of patients, with relative doses decreasing with age. A wide variation was observed among countries with regards to all aspects of steroid hormone replacement.

Conclusions: Data from the I-CAH Registry suggests international variations in hormone replacement therapy, with a tendency to treatment with high doses in children.

Open access

Simon H S Pearce, Earn H Gan, and Catherine Napier

Over the last 10 years, evidence has accumulated that autoimmune Addison’s disease (AAD) is a heterogeneous disease. Residual adrenal function, characterised by persistent secretion of cortisol, other glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids is present in around 30% of patients with established AAD, and appears commoner in men. This persistent steroidogenesis is present in some patients with AAD for more than 20 years, but it is commoner in people with shorter disease duration. The clinical significance of residual adrenal function is not fully clear at the moment, but as it signifies an intact adrenocortical stem cell population, it opens up the possibility of regeneration of adrenal steroidogenesis and improvement in adrenal failure for some patients.

Open access

Anette Bøe Wolff, Lars Breivik, Karl Ove Hufthammer, Marianne Grytaas, Eirik Bratland, Eystein Sverre Husebye, and Bergithe Eikeland Oftedal

Background: The most common cause of primary adrenal failure (Addison’s disease) in the Western world is autoimmunity characterized by autoantibodies against the steroidogenic enzyme 21-hydroxylase (CYP21, 21OH). Detection of 21OH-autoantibodies is currently used for etiological diagnosis, but how levels of 21OH-antibodies vary over time is not known.

Setting: Samples from the national Norwegian Addison’s Registry and Biobank established in 1996 (N=711). Multi-parameter modelling of the course of 21OH-antibody indices over time.

Results: 21OH antibody positivity is remarkably stable, and >90% of the patients are still positive 30 years after diagnosis. Even though the antibody levels decline with disease duration, it is only rarely that this downturn reaches negativity. 21OH-antibody indices are affected by age at diagnosis, sex, type of Addison’s disease (isolated vs. autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type I or II) and HLA genotype.

Conclusion: 21OH-autoantibodies are reliable and robust markers for autoimmune Addison’s disease, linked to HLA risk genotype. However, a negative test in patients with long disease duration do not exclude autoimmune etiology.

Open access

Radu Mihai and Rajesh V Thakker

Background.

Permanent post-surgical hypoparathyroidism (POSH) is a major complication of anterior neck surgery in general and of thyroid surgery in particular. Depending of diagnostic criteria, up to 10% of patients undergoing bilateral thyroid surgery develop POSH. This leads to a multitude of symptoms that decrease the quality of life and burden the healthcare provision through complex needs for medication and treatment of specific complications, such as seizures and laryngospasm.

Methods.

Narrative review of current medical treatments for POSH and of the experience accumulated with parathyroid allotransplantation.

Results.

In most patients, POSH is controlled with regular use of calcium supplements and active vitamin D analogues but a significant proportion of patients continue to experience severe symptoms requiring repeated emergency admissions. Replacement therapy with synthetic PTH compounds (PTH1-34, Natpara® and PTH1-84, teriparatide, Forsteo®) has been assessed in multicentre trials, but the use of this medication is restricted by costs and concerns related to the risk of development of osteosarcoma.

Based on recent case reports of successful allotransplantation of parathyroid tissue between siblings, there is renewed interest in this technique. Data on selection of donors, parathyroid cell preparation before allotransplantation, site and timing of transplantation, need for immunosuppression and long-term outcomes are reviewed.

Conclusion.

A prospective trial to assess the efficacy of parathyroid allotransplantation in patients with severely symptomatic protracted post-surgical hypoparathyroidism is warranted.