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Nicholas Russell and Mathis Grossmann

Evidence has been accumulating that, in men, some of the biological actions traditionally attributed to testosterone acting via the androgen receptor may in fact be dependent on its aromatization to estradiol (E2). In men, E2 circulates at concentrations exceeding those of postmenopausal women, and estrogen receptors are expressed in many male reproductive and somatic tissues. Human studies contributing evidence for the role of E2 in men comprise rare case reports of men lacking aromatase or a functional estrogen receptor alpha, short-term experiments manipulating sex steroid milieu in healthy men, men with organic hypogonadism or men with prostate cancer treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and from observational studies in community-dwelling men. The collective evidence suggests that, in men, E2 is an important hormone for hypothalamic–pituitary–testicular axis regulation, reproductive function, growth hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 axis regulation, bone growth and maintenance of skeletal health, body composition and glucose metabolism and vasomotor stability. In other tissues, particularly brain, elucidation of the clinical relevance of E2 actions requires further research. From a clinical perspective, the current evidence supports the use of testosterone as the treatment of choice in male hypogonadism, rather than aromatase inhibitors (which raise testosterone and lower E2), selective androgen receptor modulators and selective estrogen receptor modulators (with insufficiently understood tissue-specific estrogenic effects). Finally, E2 treatment, either as add-back to conventional ADT or as sole mode of ADT could be a useful strategy for men with prostate cancer.

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Yujiro Nakano, Takanobu Yoshimoto, Ryo Watanabe, Masanori Murakami, Tatsuya Fukuda, Kazutaka Saito, Yasuhisa Fujii, Takumi Akashi, Toshihiro Tanaka, Tetsuya Yamada, Mitsuhide Naruse and Yoshihiro Ogawa


The pathophysiology of aldosterone-producing adenomas (APAs) has been intensively investigated using genetic and epigenetic approaches. However, the role of miRNAs in APA is not fully understood. The present study profiled miRNAs in APAs as an exploratory approach to elucidate their pathophysiological roles in APAs.


Tissues of APAs and other adrenocortical adenomas were obtained from patients who underwent adrenalectomy.


Candidate miRNAs differentially detected from samples were examined by whole miRNA sequencing. The expression of candidate miRNAs in APA tissues were further validated by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Further, differential miRNA expression between APAs with and without KCNJ5 somatic mutations was examined. Prediction of miRNA target genes was performed by bioinformatics analysis. For specific miRNAs, correlation analysis between the levels of their target genes and CYP11B2 was analyzed in APA tissues.


Our study determined differential expression of six miRNAs in APA or APA with KCNJ5 mutations. We further demonstrated that miR299 levels were negatively correlated with mRNA levels of CACNB2, which encodes the beta-subunit of the L-type calcium channel. Additionally, we found significant correlations among miR299, CACNB2, and CYP11B2 levels in APA tissues.


Our study suggests the possible pathophysiological involvement of specific miRNAs in calcium signaling and aldosterone hypersecretion in APAs. Further studies, including in vitro analyses, are required to clarify these findings.

Open access

Andrew Alexander Crawford, Stefan Söderberg, Clemens Kirschbaum, Lee Murphy, Mats Eliasson, Shah Ebrahim, George Davey Smith, Tommy Olsson, Naveed Sattar, Debbie A Lawlor, Nicholas J Timpson, R M Reynolds and Brian R Walker

Objective: The identification of new causal risk factors has the potential to improve cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk prediction and the development of new treatments to reduce CVD deaths. In the general population, we sought to determine whether cortisol is a causal risk factor for CVD and coronary heart disease (CHD).

Design and Methods: Three approaches were adopted to investigate the association between cortisol and CVD/CHD. First, we used multivariable regression in two prospective nested case-control studies (total 798 participants, 313 incident CVD/CHD with complete data). Second, a random-effects meta-analysis of these data and previously published prospective associations was performed (total 6680 controls, 696 incident CVD/CHD). Finally, one- and two-sample Mendelian randomization analyses were performed (122,737 CHD cases, 547,261 controls for two-sample analyses).

Results: In the two prospective nested case-control studies, logistic regression adjusting for sex, age, body mass index, smoking and time of sampling, demonstrated a positive association between morning plasma cortisol and incident CVD (OR 1.28 per 1 SD higher cortisol, 95% CI 1.06-1.54). In the meta-analysis of prospective studies the equivalent result was OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.06-1.31. Results from the two-sample Mendelian randomization were consistent with these positive associations: OR 1.06, 95% CI 0.98-1.15.

Conclusions: All three approaches demonstrated a positive association between morning plasma cortisol and incident CVD. Together these findings suggest that elevated morning cortisol is a causal risk factor for CVD. The current data suggest strategies targeted at lowering cortisol action should be evaluated for their effects on CVD.

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Yufei Xu, Yirou Wang, Niu Li, Ruen Yao, Guoqiang Li, Juan Li, Yu Ding, Yao Chen, Xiaodong Huang, Yulin Chen, Yanrong Qing, Tingting Yu, Yongnian Shen, Xiumin Wang, Yiping Shen and Jian Wang

Context: Diagnosis of non-chromosomal type disorders of sex development (DSD) has long been challenging. There is still no research on overview of a large Chinese DSD cohort.

Objective: To determine the etiologic diagnosis through unbiased large-scale panel sequencing and whole-exome sequencing (WES) within a large Chinese DSD cohort.

Design: Patients were recruited according to the inclusion criteria of DSD. The applied panel contains 2,742 known disease-causing genes, including all known diagnostic genes for DSD.

Methods: Targeted panel sequencing (TPS) was performed, and identified candidate variants were verified. Variant pathogenicities were evaluated according to established guidelines. WES was performed for randomly selected negative samples.

Results: This study included 125 patients. Seventy-five variants were identified by TPS and 31 variants were reported for the first time. Pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants accounted for 38.7% and 30.7%, respectively. On the basis of clinical certainty, etiologic diagnostic rates of 46.9% and 10.3% were obtained for 46,XY and 46,XX DSD patients, respectively. We reported novel candidate genes (BMPR1B, GNAS, GHR) and regions of copy number variants outside the expected DSD genotype-phenotype correlation, and determined a founder mutation (SRD5A2 p.R227Q) in patients with 5α-reductase deficiency. Further WES in randomly selected negative samples identified only one among 14 negative samples as a variant of uncertain significance, indicating that WES did not improve the diagnostic rate.

Conclusions: This is the first report of the applying unbiased TPS in a large Chinese cohort of patients with 46,XY and 46,XX DSD. Our findings expand the gene, mutation and phenotype spectra of the rare types of DSD in the Chinese population and provide new insight into the current understanding of the etiologies of DSD.

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Simona Censi, Susi Barollo, Elisabetta Grespan, Sara Watutantrige-Fernando, Jacopo Manso, Maurizio Iacobone, Eric Casal Ide, Francesca Galuppini, Ambrogio Fassina, Loris Bertazza, Federica Vianello, Gianmaria Pennelli and Caterina Mian


Follicular-derived thyroid cancers generally have a good prognosis, but in a minority of cases, they have an aggressive behavior and develop distant metastases, with an increase in the associated mortality. None of the prognostic markers currently available prior to surgery can identify such cases.


TERT promoter and BRAF gene mutations were examined in a series of 436 consecutive TIR-4 and TIR-5 nodes referred for surgery. Follow-up (median: 59 months, range: 7–293 months) was available for 384/423 patients with malignant nodes.


TERT promoter and BRAF mutations were detected in 20/436 (4.6%) and 257/434 thyroid nodules (59.2%), respectively. At the end of the follow-up, 318/384 patients (82.8%) had an excellent outcome, 48/384 (12.5%) had indeterminate response or biochemical persistence, 18/384 (4.7%) had a structural persistence or died from thyroid cancer. TERT promoter mutations correlated with older age (P < 0.0001), larger tumor size (P = 0.0002), oxyntic and aggressive PTC variants (P = 0.01), higher tumor stages (P < 0.0001), distant metastases (<0.0001) and disease outcome (P < 0.0001). At multivariate analysis, TERT promoter mutation was not an independent predictor of disease outcome. TERT promoter mutation- (OR: 40.58; 95% CI: 3.06–539.04), and N1b lymph node metastases (OR: 40.16, 95% CI: 3.48–463.04) were independent predictors of distant metastases. BRAF mutation did not predict the outcome, and it correlated with a lower incidence of distant metastases (P = 0.0201).


TERT promoter mutation proved an independent predictor of distant metastases, giving clinicians the chance to identify many of the patients who warranted more aggressive initial treatment and closer follow-up.

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Akiyuki Kawashima, Masakatsu Sone, Nobuya Inagaki, Yoshiyu Takeda, Hiroshi Itoh, Isao Kurihara, Hironobu Umakoshi, Takamasa Ichijo, Takuyuki Katabami, Norio Wada, Yoshihiro Ogawa, Junji Kawashima, Megumi Fujita, Shozo Miyauchi, Shintaro Okamura, Tomikazu Fukuoka, Toshihiko Yanase, Shoichiro Izawa, Yuichiro Yoshikawa, Shigeatsu Hashimoto, M Yamada, Tatsuya Kai, Tomoko Suzuki and Mitsuhide Naruse

Objective: Several clinical studies have reported that renal impairments are sometimes observed in patients with primary aldosteronism (PA). We analyzed the prevalence of renal impairments in PA patients and identified parameters that increase the risk for them.

Design: This is a retrospective cross-sectional study. We assessed the PA database established by the multicenter Japan PA study (JPAS). Data were also collected from patients with essential hypertension (EHT).

Methods: We compared the prevalences of proteinuria and lowered estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) between patients with PA and age-, sex-, blood pressure, and duration of hypertension-matched patients with EHT. We also performed logistic regression analysis to identify parameters that increase the risk for these renal impairments.

Results: Among 2366 PA patients, the prevalences of proteinuria and lowered eGFR were 10.3%, and 11.6%, respectively. The prevalence of proteinuria was significantly higher in PA patients than matched-EHT patients (16.8% vs 4.4%), whereas there was no significant difference in the prevalence of lowered eGFR (17.2% vs 15.0%). The logistic regression analysis also showed that the plasma aldosterone concentration (PAC) significantly increases the risk of proteinuria and lowered eGFR, independent of other known risk factors.

Conclusion: Plasma aldosterone levels are closely associated with renal impairment in patients with PA. This is contrast to our earlier finding that the PAC was not itself linearly associated with cardiovascular events such as stroke or ischemic heart disease. The mechanism underlying the kidney damage in patients with PA may differ from that affecting the cardiovascular system.

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Benjamin Lechner, Katharina Lechner, Daniel Alexander Heinrich, Christian Adolf, Finn Holler, Holger Schneider, Felix Beuschlein and Martin Reincke

In patients with primary aldosteronism specific treatment provides prognostic benefit over optimal antihypertensive therapy and is therefore crucial to reduce mortality and morbidity in this subgroup of patients with hypertension. Prognostic relevance has been shown for adrenalectomy in unilateral disease, and for medical treatment with mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists in bilateral adrenal hyperplasia. Collectively, evidence points to the superiority of surgical treatment compared to medical treatment. The causal approach of removing the mineralocorticoid excess, as well as the often-accompanying glucocorticoid excess, might provide one biologically plausible explanation for the observation of slightly better outcomes with surgical therapy. However, in patients living with primary aldosteronism, medical treatment is often insufficient for three major reasons. First and foremost, no marker of sufficient aldosterone blockade has yet been established and therefore adequate treatment of the aldosterone excess is often dismissed as a treatment goal. Second, side effects often limit patient compliance. Third, as recommendations differ from other indications like heart failure, drug dosing is often inadequate. The aim of this review is first to provide an overview over medical treatment options, and second to review potential markers for treatment surveillance in patients with primary aldosteronism.

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Wouter T Zandee, Richard A Feelders, Daan A Smit Duijzentkunst, Johannes Hofland, R Mick Metselaar, Rogier A Oldenburg, Anne van Linge, Boen L R Kam, Jaap J M Teunissen, Esther Korpershoek, Johanna M Hendriks, Huda Abusaris, Cleo Slagter, Gaston J H Franssen, Tessa Brabander and Wouter W De Herder


Inoperable or metastatic paragangliomas (PGLs) and malignant pheochromocytomas (PCCs) are rare tumours with limited options for systemic treatment. Aim of this study was to assess the safety and efficacy of the radiolabelled somatostatin analogue (177LutetiumDOTA0-Tyr3)octreotate (177Lu-DOTATATE) for the treatment of PGLs and PCCs.


Patients with histologically proven inoperable or malignant PGLs and PCCs treated with 177Lu-DOTATATE at our centre were retrospectively analysed. Patients were treated with up to four cycles of 177Lu-DOTATATE with an intended dose of 7.4 Gb per cycle. Response was assessed with use of RECIST 1.1.


Thirty patients were included: 17 with parasympathetic, 10 with sympathetic PGLs and 3 with PCCs. Grade 3/4 subacute haematotoxicity occurred in 6 (20%) of patients. A reversible subacute adverse event due to cardiac failure following possible catecholamine release occurred in two patients. Best tumour response was partial response in 7 (23%) and stable disease in 20 (67%), whereas 3 (10%) patients had progressive disease. In 20 patients with baseline disease progression, tumour control was observed in 17 (85%); the median progression-free survival was 91 months in patients with parasympathetic PGLs, 13 months in patients with sympathetic PGLs and 10 months in patients with metastatic PCCs.


This study suggests that PRRT with 177Lu-DOTATATE is a safe and effective treatment option for patients with inoperable or malignant PGL and PCC.

Free access

Philippe Chanson, Alexandre Dormoy and Olaf M Dekkers

Surgery is the treatment of choice for non-functioning pituitary macroadenomas (NFPAs). In cases of postoperative remnant growth or tumor recurrence, radiotherapy (RT) can be considered. The role of RT in the postoperative management of NFPAs is still debated. The main arguments against routine use of RT are the lack of randomized controlled trials, the use of clinically irrelevant endpoints in most studies on RT, the benign character of the condition, the potential for side effects of RT, and the option to apply RT at a later stage. However, because of its excellent efficacy in inhibiting tumor growth, reducing tumor volume and improving any existing visual defects, and as its side effects seem to be limited compared to the benefits provided, RT keeps a place in the management of NFPAs when a tumor remnant persists, particularly if it is invasive and displays high proliferation markers, if surveillance shows a relevant increase in tumor volume or if the tumor is close to the optic chiasm. The size of the remnant, its vicinity with the optic pathways, and the potential risk to healthy surrounding tissues need to be considered when deciding on an RT procedure.

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Araceli García-Martínez, David A. Cano, Álvaro Flores-Martínez, Joan Gil, Manel Puig Domingo, Susan M Webb, Alfonso Soto and Antonio M Pico

Objective: Silent corticotroph tumors are a pituitary neuroendocrine tumor subtype of corticotroph lineage that do not clinically express Cushing disease. The silencing of this type of tumor is not fully understood. The aim of the present study was to delve into the lack of secretory activity, studying the post-transcriptional and post-translational regulation of POMC/ACTH in a series of molecularly identified functioning and silent corticotroph tumors.

Design: We analyzed 24 silent corticotroph, 23 functioning corticotroph and 25 silent gonadotroph tumors.

Methods: We used Sanger sequencing, quantitative real time PCR and Western blot to analyze genetic alterations in POMC, gene expression of TBX19, NEUROD1, POMC, PCSK1, PCSK2, CPE and PAM and protein expression of POMC, PC1/3, PC2, CPE and PAM.

Results: We found different polymorphisms in the POMC gene of corticotroph tumors, some of them related to deficiency of proopiomelanocortin. Silent corticotroph tumors showed lower PC1/3 gene and protein expression than functioning ones, especially compared to micro functioning corticotroph tumors (all p<0.05). Moreover, we found a positive correlation between PC2 and CPE gene and protein expression (rho≥0.670, p<0.009) in silent corticotroph tumors compared with functioning ones.

Conclusions: By studying the post-transcriptional and post-translational processing of POMC and ACTH, respectively, in a large series of silent and functioning corticotroph tumors, we found that the lack of secretory activity of these tumors is related to an impaired processing of POMC and a high degradation of ACTH, with the macro functioning corticotroph tumor behaving as an intermediate state between micro functioning and silent corticotroph tumors.