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Free access

Nicole Reisch, Marina Willige, Denise Kohn, Hans-Peter Schwarz, Bruno Allolio, Martin Reincke, Marcus Quinkler, Stefanie Hahner, and Felix Beuschlein

Objective

To study adrenal crisis (AC) in patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to classical 21-hydroxylase deficiency (21-OHD). AC was defined as an acute state of health impairment requiring i.v. glucocorticoid administration and hospital admission.

Design and methods

In a cross-sectional study with detailed retrospective assessment, AC was studied following two approaches: i) questionnaire based: 122 adult 21-OHD patients (50 men, 72 women, median age 35 years, range 18–69 years) completed a disease-specific questionnaire; and ii) patient chart based: charts of 67 21-OHD patients (32 males, 35 females, median age 31 years, range 20–66 years) were analyzed from diagnosis to last follow-up with regard to frequency and causes of AC since diagnosis.

Results

Evaluation of questionnaires revealed 257 ACs in 4456 patient years (py; frequency 5.8 crises/100 py), while patient charts documented 106 ACs in 2181 py (4.9 crises/100 py). The chart-based evaluation showed that gastrointestinal infections (29%) and salt-wasting crisis (18%) were the main causes of AC. In 14%, the cause remained uncertain. There was no difference in the overall frequency of AC in males and females. AC mostly occurred during childhood, with more than 70% of AC in the first 10 years of life and one-third of AC in the first year of life. Still, 20% of cases of AC were observed in adults (>18 years).

Conclusion

Our data demonstrate a significant risk of AC in patients with 21-OHD over lifetime. Specific age-adapted and repeated crisis prevention training may help to reduce morbidity due to AC in 21-OHD.

Free access

Stefanie Hahner, Melanie Loeffler, Benjamin Bleicken, Christiane Drechsler, Danijela Milovanovic, Martin Fassnacht, Manfred Ventz, Marcus Quinkler, and Bruno Allolio

Objective

Adrenal crisis (AC) is a life-threatening complication of adrenal insufficiency (AI). Here, we evaluated frequency, causes and risk factors of AC in patients with chronic AI.

Methods

In a cross-sectional study, 883 patients with AI were contacted by mail. Five-hundred and twenty-six patients agreed to participate and received a disease-specific questionnaire.

Results

Four-hundred and forty-four datasets were available for analysis (primary AI (PAI), n=254; secondary AI (SAI), n=190). Forty-two percent (PAI 47% and SAI 35%) reported at least one crisis. Three hundred and eighty-four AC in 6092 patient years were documented (frequency of 6.3 crises/100 patient years). Precipitating causes were mainly gastrointestinal infection and fever (45%) but also other stressful events (e.g. major pain, surgery, psychic distress, heat and pregnancy). Sudden onset of apparently unexplained AC was also reported (PAI 6.6% and SAI 12.7%). Patients with PAI reported more frequent emergency glucocorticoid administration (42.5 vs 28.4%, P=0.003). Crisis incidence was not influenced by educational status, body mass index, glucocorticoid dose, DHEA treatment, age at diagnosis, hypogonadism, hypothyroidism or GH deficiency. In PAI, patients with concomitant non-endocrine disease were at higher risk of crisis (odds ratio (OR)=2.02, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05–3.89, P=0.036). In SAI, female sex (OR=2.18, 95% CI 1.06–4.5, P=0.035) and diabetes insipidus (OR=2.71, 95% CI 1.22–5.99, P=0.014) were associated with higher crisis incidence.

Conclusion

AC occurs in a substantial proportion of patients with chronic AI, mainly triggered by infectious disease. Only a limited number of risk factors suitable for targeting prevention of AC were identified. These findings indicate the need for new concepts of crisis prevention in patients with AI.

Free access

Cristina L Ronchi, Elisa Verrua, Emanuele Ferrante, Gwendolyn Bender, Elisa Sala, Andrea G Lania, Martin Fassnacht, Paolo Beck-Peccoz, Bruno Allolio, Anna Spada, and Maura Arosio

Objective

Radiation therapy (RT) is a useful adjuvant tool for acromegalic patients not cured by surgery and/or not responding to pharmacotherapy. However, its specific effects on cardio- and cerebrovascular morbidity are still on debate.

Design

Retrospective analysis of 42 acromegalic patients cured after conventional radiotherapy (CRT, n=31) or radiosurgery by gamma-knife (GKRS, n=11) followed for a median period of 16.5 years (range: 2–40). Totally, 56 patients cured by surgery alone, with similar GH/IGF1 levels and duration of disease remission, served as control group.

Methods

Changes in cardiovascular risk factors, such as body mass index, glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, blood pressure, and lipid profile (pre-defined primary end point) and occurrence of new major cardio- and cerebrovascular events (secondary end point) during follow-up.

Results

The number of obese, hypertensive, and dyslipidemic subjects increased over time only in patients cured with RT. In contrast, the glucose response to the oral glucose tolerance test and the percentage of subjects with glucose alterations improved only in controls. As expected, the percentage of patients with pituitary failure was deeply higher among RT patients than among controls (86 vs 30%, P<0.0005). Despite these findings, a similar number of RT patients and controls developed major cardio- or cerebrovascular events (4/42 vs 3/56, P: NS). No differences were found between CRT and GKRS subgroups.

Conclusions

Previous RT seems to be associated with a worse metabolic profile in acromegalic patients studied after a long-term follow-up. Nevertheless, a direct link between RT and cardiovascular events remains to be proven.

Free access

Britta Heinze, Leonie J M Herrmann, Martin Fassnacht, Cristina L Ronchi, Holger S Willenberg, Marcus Quinkler, Nicole Reisch, Martina Zink, Bruno Allolio, and Stefanie Hahner

Context

The Li–Fraumeni tumor syndrome is strongly associated with adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) and is caused by germline mutations in TP53 in 70% of cases. Also, TP53 polymorphisms have been shown to influence both cancer risk and clinical outcome in several tumor entities. We, therefore, investigated TP53 polymorphisms in a cohort of adult patients with ACC.

Objective

Evaluation of the role of TP53 polymorphisms in adult patients with ACC.

Subjects and methods

Peripheral blood for DNA extraction was collected from 72 ACC patients. Polymorphism analysis was carried out by amplification and sequencing of exons and adjacent intron sections of TP53. Results were correlated with clinical data and the distribution of the polymorphisms was compared with published Caucasian control groups.

Results

Compared with control groups, genotype frequencies of analyzed TP53 polymorphisms among ACC patients were significantly different in three out of four polymorphisms: IVS2+38G>C (G/G, P=0.0248), IVS3ins16 (NoIns/NoIns, P<0.0001; NoIns/Ins, P<0.0001), and IVS6+62A>G (G/G, P<0.0001; G/A, P<0.0001). Overall, the survival of ACC patients, which harbored at least one of the less frequent genotype variants of four analyzed polymorphisms (n=23), was significantly inferior (median survival: 81.0 months in patients with the common homozygous genotypes vs 20.0 months in patients with the less frequent genotypes, HR 2.56, 95% CI 1.66–7.07; P=0.001). These results were confirmed by multivariable regression analysis (HR 2.84, 95% CI 1.52–7.17; P=0.037).

Conclusion

Some TP53 polymorphisms seem to influence overall survival in ACC patients. This effect was observed for a combination of polymorphic changes rather than for single polymorphisms.

Free access

Stephan Petersenn, Paul-Ajoy Richter, Thomas Broemel, Christian O Ritter, Timo Deutschbein, Frank-Ulrich Beil, Bruno Allolio, Martin Fassnacht, and for the German ACC Study Group

Objective

Thresholds of 2–20 hounsfield units (HU) in unenhanced computed tomography (CT) are suggested to discriminate benign adrenal tumors (BATs) from malignant adrenal tumors. However, these studies included only low numbers of adrenocortical carcinomas (ACCs). This study defines a HU threshold by inclusion of a large cohort of ACCs.

Design

Retrospective, blinded, comparative analysis of CT scans from 51 patients with ACCs (30 females, median age 49 years) and 25 patients with BATs (12 females, median age 64 years) diagnosed during the period of 2005–2010 was performed.

Methods

Tumor density was evaluated in unenhanced CT by two blinded investigators.

Results

Median tumor size was 9 cm (range 2.0–20) for ACCs vs 4 cm (2.0–7.5) for BATs (P<0.0001). In ACCs, the median unenhanced HU value was 34 (range 14–74) in comparison with 5 (−13 to 40) in BATs (P<0.0001). ROC analysis revealed a HU of 21 as threshold with the best diagnostic accuracy (sensitivity 96%, specificity 80%, and AUC 0.89). However, two ACCs that were 5 and 6 cm in size would have been missed. Setting the threshold to 13.9 allowed for 100% sensitivity, but a lower specificity of 68%.

Conclusions

This first large study on ACCs confirmed that the vast majority of ACCs have unenhanced HU >21. However, to avoid misdiagnosing an ACC as benign, a threshold of 13 should be used.

Free access

Marianne Weigel, Anna Riester, Gregor Hanslik, Katharina Lang, Holger S Willenberg, Stephan Endres, Bruno Allolio, Felix Beuschlein, Martin Reincke, and Marcus Quinkler

Objective

The saline infusion test (SIT) is widely used as a confirmatory test for primary aldosteronism (PA). SIT results are judged as follows: post-test aldosterone levels <50 ng/l exclude PA, whereas levels >50 ng/l confirm PA. We hypothesized that post-SIT aldosterone concentrations indicate the severity of PA and might predict outcome.

Design

The study includes 256 PA patients of the German Conn's Registry who prospectively underwent SIT. The data of 126 patients with complete follow-up of 1.2±0.3 years after diagnosis were analyzed. The patients were divided into two groups with post-SIT aldosterone levels of 50–100 ng/l (group 1; n=38) and of >100 ng/l (group 2; n=88).

Results

Patients in group 2 had a significantly shorter duration of hypertension (7.5 vs 11.7 years (median), P=0.014), higher systolic blood pressure (BP; 151±16 vs 143±17 mmHg, P=0.036), lower serum potassium (3.3±0.6 vs 3.5±0.4 mmol/l, P=0.006), higher 24-h urine protein excretion (7.4 vs 5.4 mg/dl (median), P=0.012), and were more often female (P=0.038). They showed more often unilateral disease (P<0.005) with larger tumors (14±10 vs 7±10 mm, P=0.021), underwent more often adrenalectomy (75% vs 37%, P<0.005), required a lower number of antihypertensive drugs after adrenalectomy (1.2±1.2 vs 2.5±1.4, P=0.001), had a faster normalization of urinary protein excretion (with medical treatment P=0.049; with Adx P<0.005) at follow-up, and more frequently underlying well-characterized mutation (P=0.047).

Conclusions

PA patients with post-SIT aldosterone levels of >100 ng/l have a more rapid development of PA caused more frequently by unilateral disease with larger aldosterone-producing adenomas. However, this group of patients may have a significantly better outcome following specific treatment.

Free access

Goce Spasovski, Raymond Vanholder, Bruno Allolio, Djillali Annane, Steve Ball, Daniel Bichet, Guy Decaux, Wiebke Fenske, Ewout J Hoorn, Carole Ichai, Michael Joannidis, Alain Soupart, Robert Zietse, Maria Haller, Sabine van der Veer, Wim Van Biesen, and Evi Nagler

Hyponatraemia, defined as a serum sodium concentration <135 mmol/l, is the most common disorder of body fluid and electrolyte balance encountered in clinical practice. It can lead to a wide spectrum of clinical symptoms, from subtle to severe or even life threatening, and is associated with increased mortality, morbidity and length of hospital stay in patients presenting with a range of conditions. Despite this, the management of patients remains problematic. The prevalence of hyponatraemia in widely different conditions and the fact that hyponatraemia is managed by clinicians with a broad variety of backgrounds have fostered diverse institution- and speciality-based approaches to diagnosis and treatment. To obtain a common and holistic view, the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM), the European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) and the European Renal Association – European Dialysis and Transplant Association (ERA–EDTA), represented by European Renal Best Practice (ERBP), have developed the Clinical Practice Guideline on the diagnostic approach and treatment of hyponatraemia as a joint venture of three societies representing specialists with a natural interest in hyponatraemia. In addition to a rigorous approach to methodology and evaluation, we were keen to ensure that the document focused on patient-important outcomes and included utility for clinicians involved in everyday practice.

Free access

Cristina L Ronchi, Erika Peverelli, Sabine Herterich, Isabel Weigand, Giovanna Mantovani, Thomas Schwarzmayr, Silviu Sbiera, Bruno Allolio, Jürgen Honegger, Silke Appenzeller, Andrea G Lania, Martin Reincke, Davide Calebiro, Anna Spada, Michael Buchfelder, Joerg Flitsch, Tim M Strom, and Martin Fassnacht

Context

Alterations in the cAMP signaling pathway are common in hormonally active endocrine tumors. Somatic mutations at GNAS are causative in 30–40% of GH-secreting adenomas. Recently, mutations affecting the USP8 and PRKACA gene have been reported in ACTH-secreting pituitary adenomas and cortisol-secreting adrenocortical adenomas respectively. However, the pathogenesis of many GH-secreting adenomas remains unclear.

Aim

Comprehensive genetic characterization of sporadic GH-secreting adenomas and identification of new driver mutations.

Design

Screening for somatic mutations was performed in 67 GH-secreting adenomas by targeted sequencing for GNAS, PRKACA, and USP8 mutations (n=31) and next-generation exome sequencing (n=36).

Results

By targeted sequencing, known activating mutations in GNAS were detected in five cases (16.1%), while no somatic mutations were observed in both PRKACA and USP8. Whole-exome sequencing identified 132 protein-altering somatic mutations in 31/36 tumors with a median of three mutations per sample (range: 1–13). The only recurrent mutations have been observed in GNAS (31.4% of cases). However, seven genes involved in cAMP signaling pathway were affected in 14 of 36 samples and eight samples harbored variants in genes involved in the calcium signaling or metabolism. At the enrichment analysis, several altered genes resulted to be associated with developmental processes. No significant correlation between genetic alterations and the clinical data was observed.

Conclusion

This study provides a comprehensive analysis of somatic mutations in a large series of GH-secreting adenomas. No novel recurrent genetic alterations have been observed, but the data suggest that beside cAMP pathway, calcium signaling might be involved in the pathogenesis of these tumors.

Free access

Gregor Hanslik, Henri Wallaschofski, Anna Dietz, Anna Riester, Martin Reincke, Bruno Allolio, Katharina Lang, Ivo Quack, Lars C Rump, Holger S Willenberg, Felix Beuschlein, Marcus Quinkler, Anke Hannemann, and for the participants of the German Conn's Registry

Design

Abnormalities in glucose homeostasis have been described in patients with primary aldosteronism (PA) but most studies show inconsistent results. Therefore, we aimed to compare the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome (MetS) in newly diagnosed PA patients to a matched control cohort of the background population.

Methods

In total, 305 PA patients of the prospective German Conn's Registry were compared to the population-based Study of Health In Pomerania (SHIP1; n=2454). A 1:1 match regarding sex, age, and BMI resulted in 269 matched pairs regarding type 2 diabetes and 183 matched pairs regarding MetS. Of the total, 153 PA patients underwent oral glucose tolerance testing (OGTT) at diagnosis and 38 PA patients were reevaluated at follow-up.

Results

Type 2 diabetes and MetS were significantly more frequent in PA patients than in the control population (17.2% vs 10.4%, P=0.03; 56.8% vs 44.8%, P=0.02 respectively). Also, HbA1c levels were higher in PA patients than in controls (P<0.01). Of the total, 35.3% of non-diabetic PA patients showed an abnormal OGTT (¼ newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes and ¾ impaired glucose tolerance). PA patients with an abnormal OGTT at baseline presented with significantly improved 2 h OGTT glucose (P=0.01) at follow-up. We detected a negative correlation between 2 h OGTT glucose levels and serum potassium (P<0.01).

Conclusions

Type 2 diabetes and MetS are more prevalent in patients with PA than in controls matched for sex, age, BMI, and blood pressure. This may explain in part the increased cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality in PA patients.

Free access

Verena Fourkiotis, Oliver Vonend, Sven Diederich, Evelyn Fischer, Katharina Lang, Stephan Endres, Felix Beuschlein, Holger S Willenberg, Lars C Rump, Bruno Allolio, Martin Reincke, Marcus Quinkler, and for the Mephisto Study Group

Objective

Primary aldosteronism (PA) has deleterious effects on kidney function independent of blood pressure levels. Up to now, data on effectiveness of different PA therapies regarding renal function are scarce.

Design and methods

This prospective multi-center study included 29 patients with newly diagnosed PA evaluated before and 1 year after treatment initiation, and a second cohort including 119 patients who were evaluated 5.3 and 6.8 years after treatment initiation. Glomerular filtration rate (GFR), spot urine albumin excretion/urinary creatinine (UAE/Ucrea) ratio, biochemical parameters, and 24-h blood pressure were measured. In a larger cross-sectional cohort, renal function was evaluated depending on the type of treatment (adrenalectomy (ADX; n=86); spironolactone (n=65); and eplerenone (n=18)).

Results

GFR and UAE/Ucrea ratio significantly decreased in newly diagnosed PA patients after treatment initiation. In the second cohort, GFR and UAE/Ucrea ratio did not change during study period, and blood pressure was well controlled. In the larger cross-sectional cohort, no differences were seen in GFR and UAE/Ucrea ratio between PA patients on different treatment regimens. However, eplerenone treatment showed lower potassium levels and higher number of required antihypertensive medications.

Conclusions

Renal dysfunction with elevated albuminuria was seen in PA patients and was reversible after treatment initiation. Medical therapies with spironolactone or eplerenone seem to be as effective as ADX regarding renal function and blood pressure; however, sufficient daily doses need to be given.