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Kara L. Marlatt, Dragana Lovre, Robbie A. Beyl, Chandra R. Tate, Evelyn K. Hayes, Charles F Burant, Eric Ravussin and Franck Mauvais-Jarvis

OBJECTIVE: Combining conjugated estrogens (CE) with the selective estrogen receptor modulator bazedoxifene (BZA) is a novel orally-administered menopausal therapy. We investigated the effect of CE/BZA on insulin sensitivity, energy metabolism, and serum metabolome in postmenopausal women with obesity.

DESIGN: Randomized, double-blind, crossover pilot trial with washout was conducted at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Eight postmenopausal women (age 50-60 y, BMI 30-40 kg/m2) were randomized to 8 weeks CE/BZA or placebo. Primary outcome was insulin sensitivity (hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp). Secondary outcomes included body composition (DXA); resting metabolic rate (RMR); substrate oxidation (indirect calorimetry); ectopic lipids (1H-MRS); fat cell size, adipose and skeletal muscle gene expression (biopsies); serum inflammatory markers; and serum metabolome (LC/MS).

RESULTS: CE/BZA treatment produced no detectable effect on insulin sensitivity, body composition, ectopic fat, fat cell size, or substrate oxidation, but resulted in a non-significant increase in RMR (basal: p=0.06; high-dose clamp: p=0.08) compared to placebo. CE/BZA increased serum high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol. CE/BZA also increased serum diacylglycerol (DAG) and triacylglycerol (TAG) species containing long-chain saturated, mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids (FAs), and decreased long-chain acylcarnitines, possibly reflecting increased hepatic de novo FA synthesis and esterification into TAGs for export into very low-density lipoproteins, as well as decreased FA oxidation, respectively (p<0.05). CE/BZA increased serum phosphatidylcholines, phosphatidylethanolamines, ceramides, and sphingomyelins, possibly reflecting the increase in serum lipoproteins (p<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: A short treatment of obese postmenopausal women with CE/BZA does not alter insulin action or ectopic fat but increases serum markers of hepatic de novo lipogenesis and TAG production.

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Melony C Fortuin-de Smidt, Amy E Mendham, Jon Hauksson, Olah Hakim, Darko Stefanovski, Louise Clamp, Lindokuhle Phiri, Jeroen Swart, Louise M Goff, Lisa K Micklesfield, Steven E Kahn, Tommy Olsson and Julia H Goedecke

Objective

We investigated the effects of a 12-week exercise intervention on insulin sensitivity (SI) and hyperinsulinemia and associated changes in regional and ectopic fat.

Research design and methods

Healthy, black South African women with obesity (mean age 23 ± 3.5 years) and of isiXhosa ancestry were randomised into a 12-week aerobic and resistance exercise training group (n = 23) and a no exercise group (control, n = 22). Pre and post-intervention testing included assessment of SI, insulin response to glucose (AIRg), insulin secretion rate (ISR), hepatic insulin extraction (FEL) and disposition index (DI) (AIRg × SI) (frequently sampled i.v. glucose tolerance test); fat mass and regional adiposity (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry); hepatic, pancreatic and skeletal muscle fat content and abdominal s.c. and visceral adipose tissue volumes (MRI).

Results

Exercise training increased VO2peak (mean ± s.d.: 24.9 ± 2.42 to 27.6 ± 3.39 mL/kg/min, P < 0.001), SI (2.0 (1.2–2.8) to 2.2 (1.5–3.7) (mU/l)−1 min−1, P = 0.005) and DI (median (interquartile range): 6.1 (3.6–7.1) to 6.5 (5.6–9.2) × 103 arbitrary units, P = 0.028), and decreased gynoid fat mass (18.5 ± 1.7 to 18.2 ± 1.6%, P < 0.001) and body weight (84.1 ± 8.7 to 83.3 ± .9.7 kg, P = 0.038). None of these changes were observed in the control group, but body weight increased (P = 0.030). AIRg, ISR and FEL, VAT, SAT and ectopic fat were unaltered after exercise training. The increase in SI and DI were not associated with changes in regional or ectopic fat.

Conclusion

Exercise training increased SI independent from changes in hyperinsulinemia and ectopic fat, suggesting that ectopic fat might not be a principal determinant of insulin resistance in this cohort.

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Magalie Haissaguerre, Marie Puerto, Marie-Laure Nunes and Antoine Tabarin

letter to the editor : no abstract needed

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Wiebke Arlt, Olaf M Dekkers, Juliane Léger and Robert K Semple

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Wiebke Arlt, Stephanie E Baldeweg, Simon H S Pearce and Helen L Simpson

We provide guidance on prevention of adrenal crisis during the global COVID-19 crisis, a time with frequently restricted access to the usual level of healthcare. Patients with adrenal insufficiency are at an increased risk of infection, which may be complicated by developing an adrenal crisis; however, there is currently no evidence that adrenal insufficiency patients are more likely to develop a severe course of disease. We highlight the need for education (sick day rules, stringent social distancing rules), equipment (sufficient glucocorticoid supplies, steroid emergency self-injection kit) and empowerment (steroid emergency card, COVID-19 guidelines) to prevent adrenal crises. In patients with adrenal insufficiency developing an acute COVID-19 infection, which frequently presents with continuous high fever, we suggest oral stress dose cover with 20 mg hydrocortisone every 6 h. We also comment on suggested dosing for patients who usually take modified release hydrocortisone or prednisolone. In patients with adrenal insufficiency showing clinical deterioration during an acute COVID-19 infection, we advise immediate (self-)injection of 100 mg hydrocortisone intramuscularly, followed by continuous i.v. infusion of 200 mg hydrocortisone per 24 h, or until this can be established, and administration of 50 mg hydrocortisone every 6 h. We also advise on doses for infants and children.

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John Newell-Price, Lynnette K Nieman, Martin Reincke and Antoine Tabarin

Clinical evaluation should guide those needing immediate investigation. Strict adherence to COVID-19 protection measures is necessary. Alternative ways of consultations (telephone, video) should be used. Early discussion with regional/national experts about investigation and management of potential and existing patients is strongly encouraged. Patients with moderate or severe clinical features need urgent investigation and management. Patients with active Cushing’s syndrome, especially when severe, are immunocompromised and vigorous adherence to the principles of social isolation is recommended. In patients with mild features or in whom a diagnosis is less likely, clinical re-evaluation should be repeated at 3 and 6 months or deferred until the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 has significantly decreased; however, those individuals should be encouraged to maintain social distancing. Diagnostic pathways may need to be very different from usual recommendations in order to reduce possible exposure to SARS-CoV-2. When extensive differential diagnostic testing and/or surgery is not feasible, it should be deferred and medical treatment should be initiated. Transsphenoidal pituitary surgery should be delayed during high SARS-CoV-2 viral prevalence. Medical management rather than surgery will be the used for most patients, since the short- to mid-term prognosis depends in most cases on hypercortisolism rather than its cause; it should be initiated promptly to minimize the risk of infection in these immunosuppressed patients. The risk/benefit ratio of these recommendations will need re-evaluation every 2–3 months from April 2020 in each country (and possibly local areas) and will depend on the local health care structure and phase of pandemic.

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Mirjam Christ-Crain, Ewout J Hoorn, Mark Sherlock, Chris J Thompson and John A H Wass

COVID-19 has changed the nature of medical consultations, emphasizing virtual patient counseling, with relevance for patients with diabetes insipidus (DI) or hyponatraemia. The main complication of desmopressin treatment in DI is dilutional hyponatraemia. Since plasma sodium monitoring is not always possible in times of COVID-19, we recommend to delay the desmopressin dose once a week until aquaresis occurs allowing excess retained water to be excreted. Patients should measure their body weight daily. Patients with DI admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 have a high risk for mortality due to volume depletion. Specialists must supervise fluid replacement and dosing of desmopressin. Patients after pituitary surgery should drink to thirst and measure their body weight daily to early recognize the development of the postoperative syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis (SIAD). They should know hyponatraemia symptoms. The prevalence of hyponatraemia in patients with pneumonia due to COVID-19 is not yet known, but seems to be low. In contrast, hypernatraemia may develop in COVID-19 patients in ICU, from different multifactorial reasons, for example, due to insensible water losses from pyrexia, increased respiration rate and use of diuretics. Hypernatraemic dehydration may contribute to the high risk of acute kidney injury in COVID-19. IV fluid replacement should be administered with caution in severe cases of COVID-19 because of the risk of pulmonary oedema.

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Kristien Boelaert, W Edward Visser, Peter Nicholas Taylor, Carla Moran, Juliane Léger and Luca Persani

This manuscript provides guidance on the management of thyroid dysfunction during the COVID-19 pandemic. Autoimmune thyroid diseases are not linked to increased risks of COVID-19. Uncontrolled thyrotoxicosis may result in more severe complications from SARS-CoV-2 infection, including thyroid storm. The management of patients with a new diagnosis of hyperthyroidism is best undertaken with a block-and-replace regimen due to limited biochemical testing availability. Antithyroid drug (ATD)-induced neutropenia may favour the progression of COVID-19 and symptoms of infection may be confused with SARS-CoV-2 infection. The withdrawal of ATDs and urgent measurement of neutrophils should be considered in case of flu-like manifestations occurring in the initial months of treatment. Urgent surgery or 131-I may be undertaken in selected cases of uncontrolled thyrotoxicosis. Patients with COVID-19 infection may present with conjunctivitis, which could cause diagnostic difficulties in patients with new or existing Graves’ ophthalmopathy. Patients who are on replacement treatment with thyroid hormones should ensure they have sufficient supply of medication. The usual advice to increase dosage of levothyroxine during pregnancy should be adhered to. Many newly presenting and previously diagnosed patients with thyroid dysfunction can be managed through virtual telephone or video clinics supported by a dedicated nurse-led service, depending on available facilities.

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Maria Fleseriu, Olaf M Dekkers and Niki Karavitaki

Patients with pituitary tumours, ensuing hormonal abnormalities and mass effects are usually followed in multidisciplinary pituitary clinics and can represent a management challenge even during the times of non-pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has put on hold routine medical care for hundreds of millions of patients around the globe, while many pituitary patients’ evaluations cannot be delayed for too long. Furthermore, the majority of patients with pituitary tumours have co-morbidities potentially impacting the course and management of COVID-19 (e.g. hypopituitarism, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity and cardiovascular disease). Here, we summarize some of the diagnostic and management dilemmas encountered, and provide guidance on safe and as effective as possible delivery of care in the COVID-19 era. We also attempt to address how pituitary services should be remodelled in the event of similar crises, while maintaining or even improving patient outcomes. Regular review of these recommendations and further adjustments are needed, depending on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic status. We consider that the utilization of successful models of pituitary multidisciplinary care implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic should continue after the crisis is over by using the valuable and exceptional experience gained during these challenging times.

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Alexis Vrachimis, Ioannis Iakovou, Evanthia Giannoula and Luca Giovanella

Most patients with thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer (TC) referred for diagnostic work-up and treatment are not considered at higher risk of infection from SARS-CoV-2 compared to the general population. On the other hand, healthcare resources should be spared to the maximum extent possible during a pandemic. Indeed, while thyroid nodules are very common, only a small percentage are cancerous and, in turn, most thyroid cancers are indolent in nature. Accordingly, diagnostic work-up of thyroid nodules, thyroid surgery for either benign or malignant thyroid nodules and radioiodine treatment for differentiated thyroid cancers may be safely postponed during SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Appropriate patient counselling, however, is mandatory and red flags should be carefully identified prompting immediate evaluation and treatment as appropriate. For these selected cases diagnostic work-up (e.g. ultrasound, scintigraphy, fine-needle aspiration), surgery and radioiodine therapy may proceed despite the threat of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19, after an individual risk-benefit analysis.