Transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) is the treatment of choice in Cushing’s disease. However, recurrence rates are substantial and currently there are no robust predictors of late prognosis. As accumulating evidence challenge the accuracy of the traditionally used early postoperative cortisol values, alternative tests are required. The study of Cambos et al., published in a recent issue of the European Journal of Endocrinology, adds to the existing data that support a role of the desmopressin test as an early and reliable predictive marker in successfully TSS-treated patients. However, despite these promising data, the use of this test is hampered by the fact that it can be applied only in patients with a documented preoperative positive test. Moreover, the lack of robust criteria to define positive postoperative responses represents another major limitation.
D A Vassiliadi and S Tsagarakis
Serena Khoo, Greta Lyons, Anne McGowan, Mark Gurnell, Susan Oddy, W Edward Visser, Sjoerd van den Berg, David Halsall, Kevin Taylor, Krishna Chatterjee, and Carla Moran
Familial dysalbuminaemic hyperthyroxinaemia (FDH), most commonly due to an Arginine to Histidine mutation at residue 218 (R218H) in the albumin gene, causes artefactual elevation of free thyroid hormones in euthyroid individuals. We have evaluated the susceptibility of most current free thyroid hormone immunoassay methods used in the United Kingdom, Europe and Far East to interference by R218H FDH.
Different, one- and two-step immunoassay methods were tested, measuring free T4 (FT4) and free T3 (FT3) in 37 individuals with genetically proven R218H FDH.
With the exception of Ortho VITROS, FT4 measurements were raised in all assays, with greatest to lowest susceptibility to interference being Beckman ACCESS > Roche ELECSYS > FUJIREBIO Lumipulse > Siemens CENTAUR > Abbott ARCHITECT > Perkin-Elmer DELFIA. Five different assays recorded high FT3 levels, with the Siemens CENTAUR method measuring high FT3 values in up to 30% of cases. However, depending on the assay method, FT4 measurements were unexpectedly normal in some, genetically confirmed, affected relatives of index FDH cases.
All FT4 immunoassays evaluated are prone to interference by R218H FDH, with their varying susceptibility not being related to assay architecture but likely due to differing assay conditions or buffer composition. Added susceptibility of many FT3 assays to measurement interference, resulting in high FT4 and FT3 with non-suppressed TSH levels, raises the possibility of R218H FDH being misdiagnosed as resistance to thyroid hormone beta or TSH-secreting pituitary tumour, potentially leading to unnecessary investigation and inappropriate treatment.
Paolo Cavarzere, Rossella Gaudino, Marco Sandri, Diego Alberto Ramaroli, Angelo Pietrobelli, Marco Zaffanello, Alessandra Guzzo, Gian Luca Salvagno, Giorgio Piacentini, and Franco Antoniazzi
To report the frequency and characteristics of growth hormone (GH) deficiency (GHD) in adolescents who had normalized GH secretion at mid-puberty and to identify possible factors predictive for GH sufficiency at puberty.
Clinical analysis of children affected by GHD at five time points: diagnosis; first year of therapy; intermediate stage of puberty; retesting and end of growth phase.
The study population was 80 children with idiopathic GHD and treated with GH for at least 2 years. Treatment was discontinued at the intermediate stage of puberty. Retesting with an arginine test was performed 12 weeks later. If GH peak at retesting was ≥8 μg/L, the therapy was definitively discontinued, otherwise it was restarted and continued until achievement of near-final height.
GH therapy was discontinued in 44 children (55%), and restarted in 36 (45%). No evidence of differences in definitive height and in the delta height between the genetic target and the definitive height was found between the two groups. The only predictive factor for GHD at mid-puberty was the insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) level at 1 year of GH treatment.
GH secretion should be retested at mid-puberty. Retesting at puberty may reduce potential side effects and minimize costs, without impairing growth potential and final height.
Cheri L Deal and Alan D Rogol
E Carosa, A Sansone, and E A Jannini
Sexual function is an important component of either general health and quality of life in both genders. Many studies have focused on the different risk factors for sexual dysfunctions, proving an association with several medical conditions. Endocrine disorders have been often mentioned in the pathogenesis of female and male sexual dysfunctions; however, particularly in women, sexual function is rarely addressed during clinical, in general, and endocrinological, in particular, consultations. As a thorough diagnosis is required in order to provide an adequately tailored treatment, knowing how each endocrine dysfunction can impair sexual health is of the utmost importance, considering the high prevalence of conditions such as disorders of pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, gonads, as well as metabolic disorders. We performed a thorough review of existing literature on the different mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of female sexual dysfunctions secondary to endocrine disorders in order to provide an up-to-date reference.
Annamaria Colao, Marcello D Bronstein, Thierry Brue, Laura De Marinis, Maria Fleseriu, Mirtha Guitelman, Gerald Raverot, Ilan Shimon, Jürgen Fleck, Pritam Gupta, Alberto M Pedroncelli, and Mônica R Gadelha
In the Phase III PAOLA study (clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01137682), enrolled patients had uncontrolled acromegaly despite ≥6 months of octreotide/lanreotide treatment before study start. More patients achieved biochemical control with long-acting pasireotide versus continued treatment with octreotide/lanreotide (active control) at month 6. The current work assessed the extent of comorbidities at baseline and outcomes during a long-term extension.
Patients receiving pasireotide 40 or 60 mg at core study end could continue on the same dose in an extension phase if biochemically controlled or receive pasireotide 60 mg if uncontrolled. Uncontrolled patients on active control were switched to pasireotide 40 mg, with the dose increased at week 16 of the extension if still uncontrolled (crossover group). Efficacy and safety are reported to 304 weeks (~5.8 years) for patients randomized to pasireotide (core + extension), and 268 weeks for patients in the crossover group (extension only).
Almost half (49.5%; 98/198) of patients had ≥3 comorbidities at core baseline. During the extension, 173 patients received pasireotide. Pasireotide effectively and consistently reduced GH and IGF-I levels for up to 5.8 years’ treatment; 37.0% of patients achieved GH <1.0 µg/L and normal IGF-I at some point during the core or extension. Improvements were observed in key symptoms. The long-term safety profile was similar to that in the core study; 23/173 patients discontinued treatment because of adverse events.
In this patient population with a high burden of comorbid illness, pasireotide was well tolerated and efficacious, providing prolonged maintenance of biochemical control and improving symptoms.
Aart J van der Lely, Emmanuelle Kuhn, Ammar Muhammad, Eva C Coopmans, Sebastian J Neggers, and Philippe Chanson
Current guidelines recommend the use of long-acting somatostatin receptor ligands (SRLs) first when surgery fails to correct GH/IGF-I hypersecretion in patients with acromegaly. In this issue of the journal, a pro- and contra debate will outline which arguments are in favour and which are against positioning pegvisomant (PEGV), a GH receptor antagonist, as the first-line treatment modality of acromegaly. The task of the pros was to promote a paradigm shift towards repositioning PEGV as first-line treatment as PEGV is safe and more effective than the first- and second-generation of SRLs. SRLs, when prescribed together with PEGV can still reduce tumour size when necessary, while they decrease the necessary dose of PEGV by around 50% in the average patient. They conclude that PEGV must move up towards the first-line treatment. For the cons, SRLs remain the first-line medical treatment. Indeed, even if, in recent studies, the remission rate is lower than initially claimed, SRLs are still effective not only for normalizing GH/IGF-I levels in half of the patients but also for inducing tumour shrinkage, improving comorbidities and headaches and reversing excess mortality. They are more convenient for use with their monthly administration and have a remarkable safety profile as demonstrated by the very prolonged experience acquired by more than 30 years of use. Finally, the cost-effectiveness of first-generation SRLs is better than that of PEGV. For all these reasons, cons consider that SRLs remain the best first medical treatment in patients requiring medical therapy.
T H Johannsen, A-M Andersson, S F Ahmed, Y B de Rijke, R F Greaves, M F Hartmann, O Hiort, P-M Holterhus, N P Krone, A Kulle, M L Ljubicic, G Mastorakos, J McNeilly, A M Pereira, A Saba, S A Wudy, K M Main, A Juul, and Working Group 3 of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action BM1303 ‘DSDnet’ and Work Package 5 ‘’ of the European Reference Network on Rare Endocrine Conditions
Differences of Sex Development (DSD) comprise a variety of congenital conditions characterized by atypical chromosomal, gonadal, or anatomical sex. Diagnosis and monitoring of treatment of patients suspected of DSD conditions include clinical examination, measurement of peptide and steroid hormones, and genetic analysis. This position paper on peptide hormone analyses in the diagnosis and control of patients with DSD was jointly prepared by specialists in the field of DSD and/or peptide hormone analysis from the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action DSDnet (BM1303) and the European Reference Network on rare Endocrine Conditions (Endo-ERN). The goal of this position paper on peptide hormone analysis was to establish laboratory guidelines that may contribute to improve optimal diagnosis and treatment control of DSD. The essential peptide hormones used in the management of patients with DSD conditions are follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, anti-Müllerian hormone, and Inhibin B. In this context, the following position statements have been proposed: serum and plasma are the preferred matrices; the peptide hormones can all be measured by immunoassay, while use of LC-MS/MS technology has yet to be implemented in a diagnostic setting; sex- and age-related reference values are mandatory in the evaluation of these hormones; and except for Inhibin B, external quality assurance programs are widely available.
Daniela Esposito, Oskar Ragnarsson, Gudmundur Johannsson, and Daniel S Olsson
Clinical features of acromegaly develop insidiously. Its diagnosis may therefore be delayed.
Our aim was to study diagnostic delay and its impact on morbidity and mortality in a nationwide cohort of patients with acromegaly.
Adult patients diagnosed with acromegaly between 2001 and 2013 were identified in the Swedish National Patient Registry. Diagnostic codes for predefined comorbidities associated with acromegaly were recorded between 1987 and 2013. Diagnostic delay was calculated as the time between the first registered comorbidity and the diagnosis of acromegaly.
A total of 603 patients (280 men, 323 women) with acromegaly were included. Mean (s.d.) diagnostic delay was 5.5 (6.2) years (median (minimum, maximum) 3.3 (0.0–25.9)) Diagnostic delay was 1–<5 years in 23% patients; 5–<10 years in 17%; and ≥10 years in 24%. No delay was recorded in 36% of patients. Overall, mean (s.d.) number of comorbidities was 4.1 (2.5) and was higher in patients with longer diagnostic delay (P < 0.0001). Overall, observed number of deaths was 61 (expected 42.2), resulting in a standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of 1.45 (95% CI: 1.11–1.86). Increased mortality was only found in patients with the longest diagnostic delay (1.76, 95% CI: 1.12–2.65). In the other groups, no statistically significant increase in mortality was recorded, with the numerically lowest SMR observed in patients without diagnostic delay (1.18; 95% CI: 0.68–1.92).
The diagnosis of acromegaly is delayed in most patients. Prolonged diagnostic delay is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
Nils Bäcklund, Göran Brattsand, Marlen Israelsson, Oskar Ragnarsson, Pia Burman, Britt Edén Engström, Charlotte Høybye, Katarina Berinder, Jeanette Wahlberg, Tommy Olsson, and Per Dahlqvist
The challenge of diagnosing Cushing’s syndrome (CS) calls for high precision biochemical screening. This study aimed to establish robust reference intervals for, and compare the diagnostic accuracy of, salivary cortisol and cortisone in late-night samples and after a low-dose (1 mg) dexamethasone suppression test (DST).
Design and methods
Saliva samples were collected at 08:00 and 23:00 h, and at 08:00 h, after a DST, from 22 patients with CS and from 155 adult reference subjects. We also collected samples at 20:00 and 22:00 h from 78 of the reference subjects. Salivary cortisol and cortisone were analysed with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The reference intervals were calculated as the 2.5th and 97.5th percentiles of the reference population measurements. Diagnostic accuracies of different tests were compared, based on areas under the receiver-operating characteristic curves.
The upper reference limits of salivary cortisol and cortisone at 23:00 h were 3.6 nmol/L and 13.5 nmol/L, respectively. Using these reference limits, CS was detected with a sensitivity (95% CI) of 90% (70–99%) and specificity of 96% (91–98%) for cortisol, and a 100% (84–100%) sensitivity and 95% (90–98%) specificity for cortisone. After DST, cortisol and cortisone upper reference limits were 0.79 nmol/L and 3.5 nmol/L, respectively. CS was detected with 95% (75–100%) sensitivity and 96% (92–99%) specificity with cortisol, and 100% (83–100%) sensitivity and 94% (89–97%) specificity with cortisone. No differences in salivary cortisol or cortisone levels were found between samples collected at 22:00 and 23:00 h.
Salivary cortisol and cortisone in late-night samples and after DST showed high accuracy for diagnosing CS, salivary cortisone being slightly, but significantly better.