OBJECTIVE: Since the availability of recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) all children with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) living in Belgium are offered rhGH treatment after approval by a peer-review board. In this study, we evaluated the prevalence and demographic features of childhood GHD in Belgium during the period 1986-2001 and we compared them with the data from other countries. METHODS: Diagnostic, demographic and baseline auxological data of 714 children diagnosed as having GHD between 1986 and 2001 were retrieved from the database of the Belgian Study Group for Paediatric Endocrinology. RESULTS: The prevalence of GHD in Belgium was estimated to be 1/5600. The origin of GHD was idiopathic (idGHD) in 41% of the patients, congenital (congGHD) in 20% and acquired (acqGHD) in 35%. During the first 4 years (1986-1989) more patients were classified as idGHD; thereafter the distribution between the three aetiology groups did not change. In all groups, boys outnumbered girls but this preponderance was especially pronounced in congGHD patients (male:female=4:1) with a central malformation that associates an anterior pituitary hypoplasia, a missing, fine or normal pituitary stalk and an ectopic posterior pituitary. Thirteen percent of the patients with idGHD, 50% with congGHD and 52% with acqGHD had multiple pituitary deficiencies. Patients with congGHD were the youngest (mean+/-s.d. age: 6.5+/-4.7 years) and were the shortest (-3.0+/-1.3 standard deviation score (SDS)) at the start of rhGH treatment. There was no time trend over the studied period for age and height at onset of GH therapy. CONCLUSION: In Belgium, the prevalence of childhood GHD can be estimated as 1/5600 which is comparable to other recent surveys. The yearly number of new patients for the different aetiologies and the auxological parameters have remained relatively constant over the last 16 years.
M Thomas, G Massa, M Craen, F de Zegher, JP Bourguignon, C Heinrichs, J De Schepper, M Du Caju, G Thiry-Counson, and M Maes
Michael J O'Grady, Conor Hensey, Miriam Fallon, Hilary Hoey, Nuala Murphy, Colm Costigan, and Declan Cody
Based on adult data, a peak cortisol response ≥500 nmol/l to insulin-induced hypoglycaemia constitutes a normal. Age-specific reference ranges for basal morning cortisol have been developed for clinical use in the paediatric population. Such reference ranges are not clearly established for peak cortisol responses to insulin-induced hypoglycaemia despite limited data suggesting an effect of age on peak cortisol. The aims of this study were to assess factors affecting the cortisol response to insulin-induced hypoglycaemia in children and to determine whether the peak cortisol response was related to age.
The present study was a retrospective cohort study.
Retrospective analysis of children and adolescents aged ≤18 years undergoing the insulin tolerance test with adequate hypoglycaemia was undertaken. Patients with hypopituitarism or severe hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis impairment (peak cortisol value <400 nmol/l) or using systemic glucocorticoids were excluded.
Two hundred and twenty-three tests were analysed. Peak cortisol responses ≥500 nmol/l occurred in 183 (82%) tests. Age was negatively associated with peak cortisol responses (r=−0.15, P=0.03). A peak cortisol response <500 nmol/l was significantly less common in patients aged <12 years (9/97 (9%) vs 31/126 (25%); P=0.004). In children aged <12 years, the median (5th–95th centiles) peak cortisol values were 610 (480–806) nmol/l compared with 574 (442–789) nmol/l in children aged ≥12 years (P<0.004). Similarly, median cortisol increment was significantly higher in younger patients (301 nmol/l compared with 226 nmol/l (P=0.0004)).
Use of a single peak cortisol threshold in children of all ages is not appropriate and will result in overdiagnosis of adrenal insufficiency in adolescents.
Roberta Ricotti, Arianna Solito, Elena Mariotti Zani, Marina Caputo, Giulia Genoni, Francesco Barone-Adesi, Valentina Mancioppi, Emanuela Agosti, Gianluca Aimaretti, Simonetta Bellone, and Flavia Prodam
Data on metabolic impairments in Cushing’s syndrome and GH deficiency all suggest that the relationship between cortisol and GH/IGF-I axis in obesity may have a role in the related diseases. However, studies focusing only on one of these hormones are often controversial in paediatrics. We aimed to explore the simultaneous relationship between cortisol and IGF-I with the metabolic alterations in paediatric obesity.
Retrospective cross-sectional study in a tertiary care center. We recruited 876 (441 males and 435 females) overweight and obese children and adolescents. A complete clinical and biochemical evaluation including OGTT was performed. Cortisol and IGF-I SDS were divided in quartiles and then crossed to explore the reciprocal influence of high/high, low/low, and high/low levels of each one on the metabolic alterations of obesity.
Subjects in the higher quartiles of IGF-I-SDS and cortisol had an increased risk of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, high levels of triglycerides, and reduced HDL cholesterol. Diversely, lower IGF-I-SDS quartiles were associated with higher blood glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, and reduced insulin sensitivity levels with the rise of cortisol quartiles.
We observed that apart from glucose metabolism that is associated with low IGF-I and high cortisol levels, the other parameters known to be associated with increased cardiovascular risk were related to high levels of both IGF-I and cortisol, even if within normal range. Cortisol and IGF-I play a complex role in the comorbidities of obesity, and the evaluation of both variables could clarify some of the discordant results.
Oliver Blankenstein, Marta Snajderova, Jo Blair, Effie Pournara, Birgitte Tønnes Pedersen, and Isabelle Oliver Petit
To describe real-life dosing patterns in children with growth hormone deficiency (GHD), born small for gestational age (SGA) or with Turner syndrome (TS) receiving growth hormone (GH) and enrolled in the NordiNet International Outcome Study (IOS; Nbib960128) between 2006 and 2016.
This non-interventional, multicentre study included paediatric patients diagnosed with GHD (isolated (IGHD) or multiple pituitary hormone deficiency (MPHD)), born SGA or with TS and treated according to everyday clinical practice from the Czech Republic (IGHD/MPHD/SGA/TS: n = 425/61/316/119), France (n = 1404/188/970/206), Germany (n = 2603/351/1387/411) and the UK (n = 259/60/87/35).
GH dosing was compared descriptively across countries and indications. Proportions of patients by GH dose group (low/medium/high) or GH dose change (decrease/increase/no change) during years 1 and 2 were also evaluated across countries and indications.
In the Czech Republic, GH dosing was generally within recommended levels. In France, average GH doses were higher for patients with IGHD, MPHD and SGA than in other countries. GH doses in TS tended to be at the lower end of the recommended label range, especially in Germany and the UK; the majority of patients were in the low-dose group. A significant inverse association between baseline height standard deviation score and GH dose was shown (P < 0.05); shorter patients received higher doses. Changes in GH dose, particularly increases, were more common in the second (40%) than in the first year (25%).
GH dosing varies considerably across countries and indications. In particular, almost half of girls with TS received GH doses below practice guidelines and label recommendations.
Marianne K Vihinen, Kaija-Leena Kolho, Merja Ashorn, Matti Verkasalo, and Taneli Raivio
We investigated circulating markers of bone turnover before and during systemic glucocorticoid treatment in paediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Twenty-two children (mean age, 12.3 years) with IBD necessitating peroral steroid therapy were studied, with special reference to bone formation and resorption markers amino-terminal type I collagen propeptide (PINP) and carboxyterminal telopeptide of type I collagen (ICTP) respectively. In addition, GH-related IGF-I and sex hormone-binding protein (SHBG) were measured. Bone markers were analyzed at the initiation of the glucocorticoid treatment, at 2 and 5 weeks thereafter and at 1 month following the withdrawal of the steroid. Control group comprised 22 IBD patients in remission.
PINP and IGF-I were already lower before glucocorticoid treatment serum in children with active IBD as compared with control children with IBD in remission (median PINP 271 vs 535 μg/l, P<0.05; IGF-I 23 vs 29 nmol/l, P<0.05). After 2 weeks of glucocorticoid treatment serum PINP levels had declined further, from 271 to 163 μg/l (P<0.001), serum ICTP from 14.2 to 9.6 μg/l (P<0.001), and SHBG from 54 to 35 nmol/l (P<0.001) respectively. By contrast, serum IGF-I increased from 23 to 37 nmol/l (P<0.001). One month after the withdrawal of the glucocorticoid, all bone markers restored to levels similar to the controls.
Bone formation in children with active IBD appears compromised and systemic glucocorticoid treatment further suppresses bone turnover. After the cessation of the glucocorticoid the bone markers show immediate improvement.
Raja Padidela, Miriam Fiest, Ved Arya, Virpi V Smith, Michael Ashworth, Dyanne Rampling, Melanie Newbould, Gauri Batra, Jacqueline James, Neville B Wright, Mark J Dunne, Peter E Clayton, Indraneel Banerjee, and Khalid Hussain
Insulinomas are a rare cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (HH) in children. The clinical features, investigations, management and histology of these rare pancreatic tumours in children have not been described in a large cohort of patients.
We conducted a retrospective review of cases diagnosed between 2000 and 2012, presenting to two referral centres in the United Kingdom. Clinical, biochemical, imaging (magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and 6-l-18F-fluorodihydroxyphenylalanine (18F-DOPA) PET/CT scanning) and histological data were collected.
Nine children (age range 2–14.5 years) were diagnosed during the study period at Great Ormond Street Hospital (n=5) and Royal Manchester Children's Hospital (n=4). The combination of abdominal MRI scan (7/8) and 18F-DOPA PET/CT scan (2/4) correctly localised the anatomical location of all insulinomas. Before surgery, diazoxide therapy was used to treat hypoglycaemia, but only four patients responded. After surgical resection of the insulinoma, hypoglycaemia resolved in all patients. The anatomical localisation of the insulinoma in each patient was head (n=4), uncinate process (n=4) and tail (n=2, one second lesion) of the pancreas. Histology confirmed the diagnosis of insulinoma with the presence of sheets and trabeculae of epithelioid and spindle cells staining strongly for insulin and proinsulin, but not for glucagon or somatostatin. Two children were positive for MEN1, one of whom had two separate insulinoma lesions within the pancreas.
We describe a cohort of paediatric insulinoma patients. Although rare, insulinomas should be included in the differential diagnosis of HH, even in very young children. In the absence of a single imaging modality in the preoperative period, localisation of the tumour is achieved by combining imaging techniques, both conventional and functional.
P G Murray, A Read, I Banerjee, A J Whatmore, L E Pritchard, R A Davies, J Brennand, A White, R J Ross, and P E Clayton
Leptin deficiency caused by mutations within the leptin gene (LEP) results in severe early onset obesity, hypogonadism, pubertal delay and immune system abnormalities. Constitutional delay in growth and puberty (CDGP) is a common condition seen in paediatric clinics, in which children present with delayed growth and puberty but usually also have a slim body habitus. We hypothesized that LEP variants may play a role in the phenotype seen in CDGP.
To screen a group of children with CDGP for pathogenic sequence variants in LEP.
Patients and methods
Denaturing HPLC was used to screen for LEP sequence variants in DNA samples from 78 children with CDGP (predominantly white males) and 112 control subjects. DNA fragments with a WAVE pattern deviant from wild type were directly sequenced. A STAT3 luciferase reporter assay in human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cells transiently transfected with the leptin receptor was used to test activity of mutant leptin.
One child with CDGP was identified to be heterozygous for a novel missense variant (c.68C>G), which results in a proline to arginine substitution (p.P23R). This sequence variant was not identified in any of the other control subjects, but was identified in his mother who shared a similar phenotype of slim body habitus, reduced appetite and pubertal delay (menarche aged 15 years). The leptin variant showed similar stability in serum compared with wild type and did not demonstrate increased activity in an in vitro reporter gene assay.
This is the first report of a sequence variant within the LEP gene associated with reduced body mass index rather than obesity. We hypothesize that this variant has increased bioactivity in vivo.
Enora Le Roux, Agathe Turpin, Morgane Michel, Isabelle Tejedor, Florence Menesguen, Sabine Malivoir, Sandrine Bottuis, Hélène Mellerio, Michel Polak, and Philippe Touraine
Objective. To evaluate the effect of a new care organisation on multiple outcomes of transition success and its cost-effectiveness in patients with any endocrine or metabolic disease diagnosed during childhood and transferred to adult care.
Design. Non-randomized controlled trial in a French University Hospital.
Methods. Patients transferred to adult care during the control period (04/2014-08/2016) and the intervention period (09/2016-06/2018) were included. The intervention is based on case management involving liaising with paediatric services, personalising care pathways, and liaising with structures outside hospital (general practitioner, educational and social sector). The primary endpoint was the percentage of patients lost to follow-up at 24 months post transfer. Other outcomes were collected from medical files, consultation software, and questionnaires. A cost analysis was performed.
Results. 202 patients were included (101 per period) , the most represented pathologies were congenital and non-congenital hypopituitarism (respectively n=34 (17%) and n=45 (22%)) and thyroid diseases (n=21, 10%). Patients were aged 22.5 in median at 24 months post transfer where 12 were lost to follow up in the control group versus 9 with the intervention (p=0.49). The percentage of honoured consultation among those planned during 24 months was higher with intervention (p=0.0065). Patient satisfaction, physician trust, transfer delay did not differ between the groups. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was €179 per patient not lost to follow-up.
Conclusions. At 24 months post transfer the rate of lost to follow-up does not differ significantly, but indicators of a steadier follow-up are increased and the intervention appears to be cost-effective.
Leo Dunkel and Richard Quinton
Puberty is the period during which we attain adult secondary sexual characteristics and reproductive capability. Its onset depends upon reactivation of pulsative GNRH, secretion from its relative quiescence during childhood, on the background of intact potential for pituitary–gonadal function. This review is intended: to highlight those current practices in diagnosis and management that are evidence based and those that are not; to help clinicians deal with areas of uncertainty with reference to physiologic first principles; by sign-posting relevant data arising from other patient groups with shared issues; to illustrate how recent scientific advances are (or should be) altering clinician perceptions of pubertal delay; and finally, to emphasise that the management of men and women presenting in advanced adult life with absent puberty cannot simply be extrapolated from paediatric practice. There is a broad spectrum of pubertal timing that varies among different populations, separated in time and space. Delayed puberty usually represents an extreme of the normal, a developmental pattern referred to as constitutional delay of growth and puberty (CDGP), but organic defects of the hypothalamo–pituitary–gonadal axis predisposing to hypogonadism may not always be initially distinguishable from it. CDGP and organic, or congenital hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism are both significantly more common in boys than girls. Moreover, around 1/3 of adults with organic hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism had evidence of partial puberty at presentation and, confusingly, some 5–10% of these subsequently may exhibit recovery of endogenous gonadotrophin secretion, including men with Kallmann syndrome. However, the distinction is crucial as expectative (‘watch-and-wait’) management is inappropriate in the context of hypogonadism. The probability of pubertal delay being caused by organic hypogonadism rises exponentially both with increasing age at presentation and the presence of associated ‘red flag’ clinical features. These ‘red flags’ comprise findings indicating lack of prior ‘mini-puberty’ (such as cryptorchidism or micropenis), or the presence of non-reproductive congenital defects known to be associated with specific hypogonadal syndromes, e.g. anosmia, deafness, mirror movements, renal agenesis, dental/digital anomalies, clefting or coloboma would be compatible with Kallmann (or perhaps CHARGE) syndrome. In children, interventions (whether in the form or treatment or simple reassurance) have been historically directed at maximising height potential and minimising psychosocial morbidity, though issues of future fertility and bone density potential are now increasingly ‘in the mix’. Apubertal adults almost invariably harbour organic hypogonadism, requiring sensitive acknowledgement of underlying personal issues and the timely introduction of sex hormone replacement therapy at more physiological doses.
Barbara Głowińska-Olszewska, Marcin Moniuszko, Andrzej Hryniewicz, Marta Jeznach, Małgorzata Rusak, Milena Dąbrowska, Włodzimierz Łuczyński, Anna Bodzenta-Łukaszyk, and Artur Bossowski
The low number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) has emerged as a biomarker of cardiovascular (CV) risk in adults. Data regarding EPCs in paediatric populations with CV risk factors are limited. The aim of the study was to estimate the EPC number and its relationship with vascular function and structure in children with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).
Design and methods
We performed a comparative analysis of 52 children with T1DM (mean age 14.5 years; diabetes duration, 6.0 years; HbA1c level, 8.5%) and 36 healthy age- and gender-matched control children. EPCs were identified and analysed by flow cytometry with the use of MABs directed against CD34, CD144 (VE-cadherin) and CD309 (VEGFR-2). sICAM-1, hsCRP, thrombomodulin and adiponectin levels were also assessed. We evaluated vascular function (flow-mediated dilation (FMD)) and structure (carotid intima–media thickness (IMT)) ultrasonographically.
Frequencies of CD34+ cells were similar in both groups (P=0.30). In contrast, frequencies of CD34+VE-cadherin+ cells were significantly higher in diabetic children compared with the healthy group (P=0.003). Similarly, diabetic patients tended to present with higher frequencies of CD34+VEGFR+ cells (P=0.06). FMD was lower (6.9 vs 10.5%, P=0.002) and IMT was higher (0.50 vs 0.44 mm, P=0.0006) in diabetic children. We demonstrated a significant relationship between CD34+VEGFR-2+ cells and BMI (r=0.3, P=0.014), HDL (r=−0.27, P=0.04), sICAM-1 (r=0.47, P=0.023) and FMD (r=−0.45, P<0.001). Similarly, frequencies of CD34+VE-cadherin+ cells were significantly correlated with BMI (r=0.32, P=0.02) and FMD (r=−0.31, P=0.03).
We demonstrated here that increased frequencies of EPCs observed in diabetic children are negatively correlated with endothelial function. Further studies are warranted to assess whether this phenomenon might result from effective mobilisation of EPCs in order to repair damaged endothelium in children at increased risk for atherosclerosis.