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Stefan M Constantinescu, Natacha Driessens, Aurélie Lefebvre, Raluca M Furnica, Bernard Corvilain, and Dominique Maiter

Introduction

Intravenous etomidate infusion is effective to rapidly lower cortisol levels in severe Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in the intensive care unit (ICU). Recently, etomidate treatment has also been proposed at lower doses in non-ICU wards, but it is not yet clear how this approach compares to ICU treatment.

Methods

We compared data from patients with severe CS treated with high starting doses of etomidate (median: 0.30 mg/kg BW/day) in ICU or with lower starting doses (median: 0.025 mg/kg BW/day) in non-ICU medical wards.

Results

Fourteen patients were included, among which ten were treated with low starting doses (LD) and four with high starting doses etomidate (HD). All patients had severe and complicated CS related to adrenal carcinoma (n = 8) or ectopic ACTH secretion (n = 6). Etomidate was effective in reducing cortisol levels below 500 nmol/L in a median of 1 day in the HD group compared to 3 days in the LD group (P = 0.013). However, all patients of the HD group had etomidate-induced cortisol insufficiency and needed frequent monitoring, while no patient from the LD group required hydrocortisone supplementation. No patient in either group died from complications of CS or etomidate treatment, but final outcome was poor as six patients in the LD group and all four patients in the HD group died from their cancer during follow-up.

Conclusion

Our study suggests that, for patients with severe CS who do not require intensive organ-supporting therapy, the use of very low doses of etomidate in medical wards should be considered.

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Daniel G Bichet

For an endocrinologist, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI) is an end-organ disease, that is the antidiuretic hormone, arginine-vasopressin (AVP) is normally produced but not recognized by the kidney with an inability to concentrate urine despite elevated plasma concentrations of AVP. Polyuria with hyposthenuria and polydipsia are the cardinal clinical manifestations of the disease. For a geneticist, hereditary NDI is a rare disease with a prevalence of five per million males secondary to loss of function of the vasopressin V2 receptor, an X-linked gene, or loss of function of the water channel AQP2. These are small genes, easily sequenced, with a number of both recurrent and private mutations described as disease causing. Other inherited disorders with mild, moderate or severe inability to concentrate urine include Bartter’s syndrome and cystinosis. MAGED2 mutations are responsible for a transient form of Bartter’s syndrome with severe polyhydramnios. The purpose of this review is to describe classical phenotype findings that will help physicians to identify early, before dehydration episodes with hypernatremia, patients with familial NDI. A number of patients are still diagnosed late with repeated dehydration episodes and large dilations of the urinary tract leading to a flow obstructive nephropathy with progressive deterioration of glomerular function. Families with ancestral X-linked AVPR2 mutations could be reconstructed and all female heterozygote patients identified with subsequent perinatal genetic testing to recognize affected males within 2 weeks of birth. Prevention of dehydration episodes is of critical importance in early life and beyond and decreasing solute intake will diminish total urine output.

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Mariacarolina Salerno, Nicola Improda, and Donatella Capalbo

Subclinical hypothyroidism (SH) is biochemically defined as serum TSH levels above the upper limit of the reference range in the presence of normal free T4 (FT4) concentrations. While there is a general agreement to treat subjects with serum TSH levels above 10 mU/L, the management of mild form (TSH concentrations between 4.5 and 10 mU/L) is still a matter of debate. In children, mild SH is often a benign and remitting condition and the risk of progression to overt thyroid dysfunction depends on the underlying condition, being higher in the autoimmune forms. The major concern is to establish whether SH in children should always be considered an expression of mild thyroid dysfunction and may deserve treatment. Current data indicate that children with mild SH have normal linear growth, bone health and intellectual outcome. However, slight metabolic abnormalities and subtle deficits in specific cognitive domains have been reported in children with modest elevation of TSH concentration. Although these findings are not sufficient to recommend levothyroxine treatment for all children with mild SH, they indicate the need for regular monitoring to ensure early identification of children who may benefit from treatment. In the meanwhile, the decision to initiate therapy in children with mild SH should be based on individual factors.

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Victoria S Sprung, Kelly A Bowden Davies, Juliette A Norman, Andrew Thompson, Katie L Mitchell, John P H Wilding, Graham J Kemp, and Daniel J Cuthbertson

Background

Data suggest that metabolic health status, incorporating components of metabolic syndrome (MetS), predicts cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk better than BMI. This study explored the association of MetS and obesity with endothelial function, a prognostic risk factor for incident CVD.

Methods

Forty-four participants were phenotyped according to BMI as non-obese vs obese (<30 or >30 kg/m2) and according to the International Diabetes Federation criteria of MetS: ≤2 criteria MetS (MetS−) vs ≥3 criteria MetS (MetS+); (1.)non-obese MetS− vs (2.) non-obese MetS+ and (3.) obese MetS vs (4.) obese MetS+. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD), body composition including liver fat (MRI and spectroscopy), dietary intake, intensities of habitual physical activity and cardio-respiratory fitness were determined. Variables were analysed using a one-factor between-groups ANOVA and linear regression; mean (95% CI) are presented.

Results

Individuals with MetS+ displayed lower FMD than those with MetS−. For non-obese individuals mean difference between MetS+ and MetS− was 4.1% ((1.0, 7.3); P = 0.004) and obese individuals had a mean difference between MetS+ and MetS− of 6.2% ((3.1, 9.2); P < 0.001). Although there was no association between BMI and FMD (P = 0.27), an increased number of MetS components was associated with a lower FMD (P = 0.005), and after adjustment for age and sex, 19.7% of the variance of FMD was explained by MetS, whereas only 1.1% was explained by BMI.

Conclusions

In this study cohort, components of MetS, rather than obesity per se, contribute to reduced FMD, which suggests a reduced bioavailability of nitric oxide and thus increased risk of CVD.

Open access

Friso de Vries, Mees Bruin, Angelica Cersosimo, Charlotte N van Beuzekom, S Faisal Ahmed, Robin P Peeters, Nienke R Biermasz, Olaf Hiort, and Alberto M Pereira

Objective

Given that volumes of patients and interventions are important criteria to qualify as a reference centre (RC) for the European Reference Network on Rare Endocrine Conditions (Endo-ERN), the present study aimed to evaluate the data that were reported in the original application against subsequent assessments of activity and review the criteria that may define RCs using two main thematic groups (MTGs): Pituitary and Thyroid, as examples.

Methods

Review of content in application forms and continuous monitoring data and of a survey distributed to RCs. A list of ‘key procedures’ for the assessment of performance of RCs was composed with the help of the Pituitary and Thyroid MTG chairs.

Results

In the original application, the number of undefined procedures ranged from 20 to 5500/year (Pituitary) and from 10 to 2700/year (phyroid) between applicants. In the survey, the number of key procedures per centre ranged from 18 to 150/year (Pituitary) and from 20 to 1376/year (Thyroid). The median numbers of new patients reported in the continuous monitoring program were comparable with the application and survey; however, some centres reported large variations.

Conclusions

Monitoring of clinical activity in an ERN requires clear definitions that are optimally aligned with clinical practice, diagnosis registration, and hospital IT systems. This is a particular challenge in the rare disease field where the centre may also provide expert input in collaboration with local hospitals. Application of uniform definitions, in addition to condition-specific clinical benchmarks, which can include patient-reported- as well as clinician-reported outcome measures, is urgently needed to allow benchmarking of care across Endo-ERN.

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Ivona Lončar, Roderick R Dulfer, Elske T Massolt, Reinier Timman, Yolanda B de Rijke, Gaston J H Franssen, Pim J W A Burger, Casper Smit, Frans A L van der Horst, Robin P Peeters, Casper H J van Eijck, and Tessa M van Ginhoven

Objective

Hypoparathyroidism is a common complication after thyroidectomy. It is not yet possible to predict in which patients hypoparathyroidism will persist. We aim to determine whether a decrease in PTH levels, measured at the first postoperative day, can identify patients with a high risk for persistent hypoparathyroidism one year after thyroidectomy.

Design

Prospective multi-center cohort study.

Methods

Patients undergoing total or completion thyroidectomy were included. We measured PTH levels preoperatively and on the first postoperative day. Primary outcome is the proportion of patients with persistent hypoparathyroidism, defined as the need for calcium supplementation one year after surgery.

Results

We included 110 patients of which 81 were used for analysis of the primary outcome. At discharge 72.8% of patients were treated with calcium supplementation. Persistent hypoparathyroidism was present in 14 patients (17.3%) at one-year follow-up, all of them had a decrease in PTH >70% at the first postoperative day. These 14 were 43.8% of the 32 patients who had such a decrease. In the group of 49 patients (59.8%) without a PTH >70% decrease, none had persistent hypoparathyroidism one year after surgery (P-value <0.001). A decrease of >70% in PTH levels had a sensitivity of 100.0% (95% CI: 85.8–100.0%), a specificity of 73.1% (95% CI: 62.5–83.7%) and an area under the curve of 0.87 (95% CI: 0.79–0.94) to predict the risk for persistent hypoparathyroidism.

Conclusion

In our study a decrease in PTH levels of >70% after total or completion thyroidectomy is a reliable predictor for persistent hypoparathyroidism, and this should be confirmed in larger cohorts.

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Sarah C Clement, Chantal A Lebbink, Mariëlle S Klein Hesselink, Jop C Teepen, Thera P Links, Cecile M Ronckers, and Hanneke M van Santen

Objective

Childhood cancer survivors (CCS) are at increased risk to develop differentiated thyroid cancer predominantly after radiotherapy (subsequent DTC). It is insufficiently known whether subsequent DTC in CCS has a different presentation or outcome than sporadic DTC.

Methods

Patients with subsequent DTC (n = 31) were matched to patients with sporadic DTC (n = 93) on gender, age and year of diagnosis to compare presentation and DTC outcomes. Clinical data were collected retrospectively.

Results

Among the CCS with subsequent DTC, all but one had received chemotherapy for their childhood cancer, 19 (61.3%) had received radiotherapy including the thyroid region, 3 (9.7%) 131I-MIBG and 8 (25.8%) had received treatment with chemotherapy only. Subsequent DTC was detected by surveillance through neck palpation (46.2%), as a self-identified mass (34.6%), or by chance. Among sporadic DTC patients, self detection predominated (68.8%). CCS with subsequent DTC tended to have on average smaller tumors (1.9 vs 2.4 cm, respectively, (P = 0.051), and more often bilateral (5/25 (60.0%) vs 28/92 (30.4%), P = 0.024). There were no significant differences in the occurrence of surgical complications, recurrence rate or disease-related death.

Conclusion

When compared to patients with sporadic DTC, CCS with subsequent DTC seem to present with smaller tumors and more frequent bilateral tumors. Treatment outcome seems to be similar. The finding that one-third of subsequent DTC cases had been treated with chemotherapy only needs further investigation. These results are important for the development of surveillance programs for CCS at risk for DTC and for treatment guidelines of subsequent DTC.

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Charlotte Michaela Fries, Yoon Ju Bae, Nada Rayes, Benjamin Sandner, Berend Isermann, Michael Stumvoll, Valentina Fagotto, Martin Reincke, Martin Bidlingmaier, Vogel Mandy, Jürgen Kratzsch, and Wiebke Kristin Fenske

Objective

Liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) has become state of the art for the quantitative analysis of steroid hormones. Although method comparisons show that aldosterone measurement using LC-MS/MS yields considerably lower levels than immunoassays (IAs), method-specific cutoff values for primary aldosteronism (PA) are largely missing. Objective of this study was to analyze the diagnostic accuracy of proposed LC-MS/MS-specific cutoff values for the saline infusion test (SIT).

Design and methods

From 2016 to 2019, 104 consecutive patients suspected of PA underwent the SIT and captopril challenge test in the tertiary medical center at the University Hospital of Leipzig, Germany. Patients with positive case confirmation underwent adrenal imaging and adrenal venous sampling for subtype classification.

Results

Overall, proposed assay-specific PACLC-MS/MS cutoff values for the SIT achieved higher diagnostic accuracy than established PACIA values with a sensitivity and specificity of 87.5% (95% CI: 71.0–96.5) and 97% (95% CI: 89.6–99.6) for a cutoff of 120 pmol/L and 93.8% (95% CI: 79.2–99.2) and 92.5% (95% CI: 83.4–97.5) for a cutoff of 94 pmol/L. The most accurate post-SIT PACLC-MS/MS cutoff value in this study was 83 pmol/L, yielding a sensitivity and specificity of 96.9% (95% CI: 83.8–99.9) and 92.5% (95% CI: 83.4–97.5), respectively.

Conclusions

The present data confirm the need for the implication of lower method-specific aldosterone cutoff values for the diagnosis of PA with LC-MS/MS based aldosterone measurement.

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Emilia Sbardella, Zoe Maunsell, Christine J H May, Michael Tadman, Tim James, Bahram Jafar-Mohammadi, Andrea M Isidori, Ashley B Grossman, and Brian Shine

Background

In patients with phaeochromocytomas or paragangliomas (PPGLs), 24-h urine collections for metanephrines (uMNs) are cumbersome.

Objective

To evaluate the diagnostic utility of ratios to creatinine of ‘spot’ uMNs.

Methods

Concentrations of uMNs and plasma metanephrines (pMNs) were measured by HPLC-mass-spectrometry. We retrospectively compared correlations of 24-h-urine output and ratio to creatinine in historical specimens and prospectively assessed 24-h and contemporaneous spot urines and, where possible, pMNs. Using trimmed log-transformed values, we derived reference intervals based on age and sex for spot urines. We used multiples of upper limit of normal (ULNs) to compare areas under curves (AUCs) for receiver-operator characteristic curves of individual, and sum and product of, components.

Results

In 3143 24-h-urine specimens on 2416 patients, the correlation coefficients between the ratios and outputs of metanephrine, normetanephrine and 3-methoxytyramine in 24-h urines were 0.983, 0.905 and 0.875, respectively. In 96 patients, the correlations between plasma concentrations, urine output and ratios in spot specimens were similar to those for raw output or ratios in 24-h specimens. Of the 160 patients with PPGLs, the CIs for AUCs for individual metabolites overlapped for all four types of measurement, as did those for the sum of the multiple ULNs although these were slightly higher (AUC for spot urine: 0.838 (0.529–1), plasma: 0.929 (0.874–0.984) and output: 0.858 (0.764–0.952)).

Conclusions

Ratios of fractionated metanephrines to creatinine in spot urine samples appear to have a similar diagnostic power to other measurements. The ease of spot urine collection may facilitate diagnosis and follow-up of PPGLs through improved patient compliance.

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Stephanie Burger-Stritt, Annemarie Eff, Marcus Quinkler, Tina Kienitz, Bettina Stamm, Holger S Willenberg, Gesine Meyer, Johannes Klein, Nicole Reisch, Michael Droste, and Stefanie Hahner

Objective

Patients with adrenal insufficiency (AI) suffer from impaired quality of life and are at risk of adrenal crisis (AC) despite established replacement therapy. Patient education is regarded an important measure for prevention of AC and improvement of AI management. A standardized education programme was elaborated for patients with chronic AI in Germany.

Design

Longitudinal, prospective, questionnaire-based, multi-centre study.

Methods

During 2-h sessions, patients (n = 526) were provided with basic knowledge on AI, equipped with emergency cards and sets and trained in self-injection of hydrocortisone. To evaluate the education programme, patients from eight certified centres completed questionnaires before, immediately after and 6–9 months after training.

Results

399 completed data sets were available for analysis. Questionnaire score-values were significantly higher after patient education, indicating successful knowledge transfer (baseline: 17 ± 7.1 of a maximum score of 29; after training: 23 ± 4.2; P < 0.001), and remained stable over 6–9 months. Female sex, younger age and primary cause of AI were associated with higher baseline scores; after education, age, cause of AI and previous adrenal crisis had a significant main effect on scores. 91% of patients would dare performing self-injection after training, compared to 68% at baseline. An improvement of subjective well-being through participation in the education programme was indicated by 95% of the patients 6–9 months after participation.

Conclusion

Patient group education in chronic AI represents a helpful tool for the guidance of patients, their self-assurance and their knowledge on prevention of adrenal crises. Repeated training and adaptation to specific needs, for example, of older patients is needed.