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Peter Wolf, Johanna Mayr, Hannes Beiglböck, Paul Fellinger, Yvonne Winhofer, Marko Poglitsch, Alois Gessl, Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, Anton Luger and Michael Krebs

Background

In patients suffering from primary adrenal insufficiency (AI) mortality is increased despite adequate glucocorticoid (GC) and mineralocorticoid (MC) replacement therapy, mainly due to an increased cardiovascular risk. Since activation of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS) plays an important role in the modulation of cardiovascular risk factors, we performed in-depth characterization of the RAAS activity.

Methods

Eight patients with primary AI (female = 5; age: 56 ± 21 years; BMI: 22.8 ± 2 kg/m2; mean blood pressure: 140/83 mmHg; hydrocortisone dose: 21.9 ± 5 mg/day; fludrocortisone dose: 0.061 ± 0.03 mg/day) and eight matched healthy volunteers (female = 5; age: 52 ± 21 years; BMI: 25.2 ± 4 kg/m2; mean blood pressure:135/84 mmHg) were included in a cross-sectional case–control study. Angiotensin metabolite profiles (RAS-fingerprints) were performed by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry.

Results

In patients suffering from primary AI, RAAS activity was highly increased with elevated concentrations of renin concentration (P = 0.027), angiotensin (Ang) I (P = 0.022), Ang II (P = 0.032), Ang 1-7 and Ang 1-5. As expected, aldosterone was not detectable in the majority of AI patients, resulting in a profoundly suppressed aldosterone-to-AngII ratio (AA2 ratio, P = 0.003) compared to controls. PRA-S, the angiotensin-based marker for plasma renin activity, correlated with plasma renin activity (r = 0.983; P < 0.01) and plasma renin concentration (r = 0.985; P < 0.001) and was significantly increased in AI patients.

Conclusions

AI is associated with a unique RAAS profile characterized by the absence of aldosterone despite strongly elevated levels of angiotensin metabolites, including the potent vasoconstrictor AngII. Despite state-of-the-art hormone replacement therapy, the RAAS remains hyperactivated. The contribution of Ang II in cardiovascular diseases in AI patients as well as a potential role for providing useful complementary information at diagnosis and follow up of AI should be investigated in future trials.

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A Ziagaki, D Blaschke, W Haverkamp and U Plöckinger

Objective

Growth hormone (GH) deficiency is related to increased cardiovascular mortality. We studied clinical status, concentration of amino-terminal-pro B-type natriuretic-peptide (NT-proBNP) and echocardiographic parameters during long-term GH replacement (GH-R).

Methods

Fifty-one patients (29 females), 45.9 ± 11.3 years (mean ± s.d.), median follow-up 36.2 months, echocardiography and laboratory determinations initially and at 12-months intervals.

Results

At the last follow-up (last observation carried forward) (LFU (LOCF)) insulin-like growth-factor-1 standard deviation score (IGF-1 SDS) was ±1 in 92% of the patients. The median NT-proBNP declined significantly and stabilized (−40.5%) at LFU (LOCF) due to patients with a basal NT-proBNP >125 ng/L (indicative of heart failure). The basal NT-proBNP and the final IGF-1 SDS were significant predictors of the NT-proBNP at LFU (LOCF). Initially left ventricular enddiastolic diameter (LVEDD), left ventricular posterior wall diameter (LVPWD) and ejection fraction (EF) were normal, while interventricular septum diameter (IVSD) and left ventricular mass index (LVMi) were slightly increased. LVPWD and IVSD had significantly declined by year three. The LVMi was moderately to severely abnormal in 37.3 and 52.0% of patients initially and at LFU (LOCF). At LFU (LOCF) LVMi and IGF-1 were significantly correlated in the 14 male patients of this subgroup.

Conclusion

Long-term GH-R of GHD positively affected ISVD and LVPWD. In a subgroup of patients with severe GHD, LVMi increased concomitantly to the decline in NT-proBNP and this was positively correlated to the final IGF-1 concentration. Whether this observation indicates a positive development in a structurally altered heart muscle (reversal of adverse remodelling) or poses a future risk for heart failure needs further follow-up.

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Germano Gaudenzi, Alessandra Dicitore, Silvia Carra, Davide Saronni, Carlotta Pozza, Elisa Giannetta, Luca Persani and Giovanni Vitale

Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) are traditionally considered as a single group of rare malignancies that originate from the highly spread neuroendocrine system. The clinical management is complex due to the high heterogeneity of these neoplasms in terms of clinical aggressiveness and response to the therapy. Indeed, a multidisciplinary approach is required to reach a personalization of the therapy, including cancer rehabilitation. In this review, we discuss the possibility to adopt a precision medicine (PM) approach in the management of NENs. To this purpose, we summarize current knowledge and future perspectives about biomarkers and preclinical in vitro and in vivo platforms, potentially useful to inform clinicians about the prognosis and for tailoring therapy in patients with NENs. This approach may represent a breakthrough in the therapy and tertiary prevention of these tumors.

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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

Objective

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.

Design

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

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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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

Objective

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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).

Conclusions

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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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

Objectives

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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

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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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Terry J Smith and Luigi Bartalena

In this article, the two authors present their opposing points of view concerning the likelihood that glucocorticoids will be replaced by newly developed biological agents in active, moderate to severe thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO). TAO is a vexing, disfiguring and potentially blinding autoimmune manifestation of thyroid autoimmunity. One author expresses the opinion that steroids are nonspecific, frequently fail to improve the disease, and can cause sometimes serious side-effects. He suggests that glucocorticoids should be replaced as soon as possible by more specific and safer drugs, once they become available. The most promising of these are biological agents. The other author argues that glucocorticoids are proven effective and are unlikely to be replaced by biologicals. He reasons that while they may not uniformly result in optimal benefit, they have been proven effective in many reports. He remains open minded about alternative therapies such as biologicals but remains skeptical that they will replace steroids as the first line therapy for active, moderate to severe TAO without head-to-head comparative clinical trials demonstrating superiority. Despite these very different points of view, both authors are optimistic about the availability of improved medical therapies for TAO, either as single agents or in combination. Further, both agree that better treatment options are needed to improve the care of our patients with active moderate to severe TAO.

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A Calabrese, V Basile, S Puglisi, P Perotti, A Pia, L Saba, P Berchialla, F Porpiglia, A Veltri, M Volante, G Reimondo, A Berruti and M Terzolo

Objective

Many patients with adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) suffer from tumor recurrence despite radical surgery. Evidence on the post-operative use of mitotane is controversial and no predictors of response are available. We aimed to assess whether adjuvant mitotane treatment may prolong survival in patients with non-metastatic ACC following complete resection and whether ACC patients at high risk of recurrence may benefit from treatment.

Design and methods

We retrospectively reviewed data from 152 non-metastatic ACC patients followed at the San Luigi Gonzaga Hospital: 100 patients were treated with adjuvant mitotane and 52 patients were left untreated following surgery. We assessed a number of potential predictive factors of recurrence and death. Mitotane effect was explored stratifying patients by staging (stage I–II vs stage III), hormone secretion (yes vs no) and Ki67 index.

Results

The non-treated group had a higher risk of recurrence (HR: 2.79, 95%CI: 1.58–4.91; P < 0.001) than mitotane-treated group, while overall survival was not significantly different between groups. Hormone secretion, elevated Weiss score and elevated Ki67 index confer a higher risk of both recurrence and death and stage III ACC of death. Adjuvant mitotane treatment reduced significantly the risk of death in patients with elevated Ki67 index (P = 0.005) and in patients with stage III ACC (P = 0.02).

Conclusions

Adjuvant mitotane may prolong recurrence-free survival in radically resected ACC patients with acceptable toxicity and may also prolong overall survival in a subgroup of ACC patients at high risk of recurrence.