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Simona Gaberšček, Katja Zaletel, Verena Schwetz, Thomas Pieber, Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch, and Elisabeth Lerchbaum

Thyroid disorders, especially Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT), and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are closely associated, based on a number of studies showing a significantly higher prevalence of HT in women with PCOS than in controls. However, the mechanisms of this association are not as clear. Certainly, genetic susceptibility contributes an important part to the development of HT and PCOS. However, a common genetic background has not yet been established. Polymorphisms of the PCOS-related gene for fibrillin 3 (FBN3) could be involved in the pathogenesis of HT and PCOS. Fibrillins influence the activity of transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ). Multifunctional TGFβ is also a key regulator of immune tolerance by stimulating regulatory T cells (Tregs), which are known to inhibit excessive immune response. With lower TGFβ and Treg levels, the autoimmune processes, well known in HT and assumed in PCOS, might develop. In fact, lower levels of TGFβ1 were found in HT as well as in PCOS women carrying allele 8 of D19S884 in the FBN3 gene. Additionally, vitamin D deficiency was shown to decrease Tregs. Finally, high estrogen-to-progesterone ratio owing to anovulatory cycles in PCOS women could enhance the immune response. Harmful metabolic and reproductive effects were shown to be more pronounced in women with HT and PCOS when compared with women with HT alone or with controls. In conclusion, HT and PCOS are associated not only with respect to their prevalence, but also with regard to etiology and clinical consequences. However, a possible crosstalk of this association is yet to be elucidated.

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Andromachi Vryonidou, Stavroula A Paschou, Giovanna Muscogiuri, Francesco Orio, and Dimitrios G Goulis

The normal function of the female reproductive system is closely linked to energy homeostasis with the ultimate scope of fertility and human race perpetuation through the centuries. During a woman's lifetime there are normal events such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause which are related to alterations in energy homeostasis and gonadal steroids levels followed by increase of body fat and insulin resistance, important components of metabolic syndrome (MetS). Pathological conditions such as premature adrenarche, polycystic ovary syndrome and gestational diabetes also present with shifts in gonadal steroid levels and reduced insulin sensitivity. The aim of this review is to discuss these conditions, both normal and pathological, analyzing the changes or abnormalities in ovarian function that coexist with metabolic abnormalities which resemble MetS in relationship with environmental, genetic and epigenetic factors.

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Laurence Amar, Aurélien Lorthioir, Michel Azizi, and Pierre-Francois Plouin

Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists have been used in patients with aldosterone-producing adenomas (APAs) as a test designed to predict the blood pressure (BP) outcome of surgery. They are commonly used in patients undergoing adrenalectomy to reduce BP and increase plasma potassium levels during the preoperative period. A small number of studies have compared the effects of surgery and mineralocorticoid antagonists either on BP, on serum potassium levels, or on the incidence of cardiovascular and renal outcomes in patients with primary aldosteronism with or without an APA; these studies found no difference between the two therapeutic options. Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists can be used as a maintenance treatment for patients with APAs, who are judged to be poor operative risks or who do not want to undergo surgery.

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Cristina Capatina, Warrick Inder, Niki Karavitaki, and John A H Wass

Pituitary tumour apoplexy (PA) is a rare clinical syndrome that occurs as a result of acute haemorrhage and/or infarction within a frequently undiagnosed pituitary tumour. The sudden enlargement of the pituitary mass undergoing PA is responsible for a wide range of acute symptoms/signs (severe headache, visual loss, diplopia, hypopituitarism, impaired consciousness) which, together with the radiological evidence of a pituitary lesion, establish the diagnosis. The optimal care of PA requires involvement of a multidisciplinary team including endocrinologist, neurosurgeon, neuroophthalmologist and the management strategy that depends on the clinical manifestations, as well as the presence of co-morbidities. Prompt surgical decompression is initially indicated in cases with severe or progressive impairment of the visual acuity or the visual fields or with altered mental state and leads to visual and neurological recovery in most of the patients. The patients with mild, stable clinical picture (including those with isolated ocular palsies) can be managed conservatively (support of fluid and electrolyte balance and stress doses of steroids in most cases) with favourable visual and neurological outcome. Frequent reassessment is mandatory because the clinical course can be unpredictable; if progression of symptoms occurs, later elective surgery is indicated and is beneficial, especially in terms of visual outcome. The endocrinological outcome is less favourable, irrespective of the treatment option, with many patients remaining on long-term replacement therapy. Despite the above guidelines, clear proof of optimal outcomes in the form of randomised controlled trials is lacking. Regrowth of the pituitary tumour years after a PA episode is possible and patients require long-term surveillance.

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Raquel Barrio

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a recessive genetic disease caused by mutations in the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). CFTR is primarily present in epithelial cells of the airways, intestine and in cells with exocrine and endocrine functions. Mutations in the gene encoding the channel protein complex (CFTR) cause alterations in the ionic composition of secretions from the lung, gastrointestinal tract, liver, and also the pancreas. CF-related diabetes (CFRD), the most common complication of CF, has a major detrimental impact on pulmonary function, nutrition and survival. Glucose derangements in CF seem to start from early infancy and, even when the pathophysiology is multifactorial, insulin insufficiency is clearly a major component. Consistently, recent evidence has confirmed that CFTR is an important regulator of insulin secretion by islet β-cells. In addition, several other mechanisms were also recognized from cellular and animals models also contributing to either β-cell mass reduction or β-cell malfunction. Understanding such mechanisms is crucial for the development of the so-called ‘transformational’ therapies in CF, including the preservation of insulin secretion. Innovative therapeutic approaches aim to modify specific CFTR mutant proteins or positively modulate their function. CFTR modulators have recently shown in vitro capacity to enhance insulin secretion and thereby potential clinical utility in CFDR, including synergistic effects between corrector and potentiator drugs. The introduction of incretins and the optimization of exocrine pancreatic replacement complete the number of therapeutic options of CFRD besides early diagnosis and implementation of insulin therapy. This review focuses on the recently identified pathogenic mechanisms leading to CFRD relevant for the development of novel pharmacological avenues in CFRD therapy.

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Faryal Mirza and Ernesto Canalis

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder characterized by decreased mass and compromised bone strength predisposing to an increased risk of fractures. Although idiopathic osteoporosis is the most common form of osteoporosis, secondary factors may contribute to the bone loss and increased fracture risk in patients presenting with fragility fractures or osteoporosis. Several medical conditions and medications significantly increase the risk for bone loss and skeletal fragility. This review focuses on some of the common causes of osteoporosis, addressing the underlying mechanisms, diagnostic approach and treatment of low bone mass in the presence of these conditions.

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Jonàs Juan-Mateu, Olatz Villate, and Décio L Eizirik

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disease in which pancreatic β cells are killed by infiltrating immune cells and by cytokines released by these cells. This takes place in the context of a dysregulated dialogue between invading immune cells and target β cells, but the intracellular signals that decide β cell fate remain to be clarified. Alternative splicing (AS) is a complex post-transcriptional regulatory mechanism affecting gene expression. It regulates the inclusion/exclusion of exons into mature mRNAs, allowing individual genes to produce multiple protein isoforms that expand the proteome diversity. Functionally related transcript populations are co-ordinately spliced by master splicing factors, defining regulatory networks that allow cells to rapidly adapt their transcriptome in response to intra and extracellular cues. There is a growing interest in the role of AS in autoimmune diseases, but little is known regarding its role in T1D. In this review, we discuss recent findings suggesting that splicing events occurring in both immune and pancreatic β cells contribute to the pathogenesis of T1D. Splicing switches in T cells and in lymph node stromal cells are involved in the modulation of the immune response against β cells, while β cells exposed to pro-inflammatory cytokines activate complex splicing networks that modulate β cell viability, expression of neoantigens and susceptibility to immune-induced stress. Unveiling the role of AS in β cell functional loss and death will increase our understanding of T1D pathogenesis and may open new avenues for disease prevention and therapy.

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Edoarda V A Albuquerque, Renata C Scalco, and Alexander A L Jorge

Tall stature is defined as a height of more than 2 standard deviations (s.d.) above average for same sex and age. Tall individuals are usually referred to endocrinologists so that hormonal disorders leading to abnormal growth are excluded. However, the majority of these patients have familial tall stature or constitutional advance of growth (generally associated with obesity), both of which are diagnoses of exclusion. It is necessary to have familiarity with a large number of rarer overgrowth syndromes, especially because some of them may have severe complications such as aortic aneurysm, thromboembolism and tumor predisposition and demand-specific follow-up approaches. Additionally, endocrine disorders associated with tall stature have specific treatments and for this reason their recognition is mandatory. With this review, we intend to provide an up-to-date summary of the genetic conditions associated with overgrowth to emphasize a practical diagnostic approach of patients with tall stature and to discuss the limitations of current growth interruption treatment options.

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John Eden

Managing the symptoms of menopause after a diagnosis of breast cancer offers some unique clinical challenges. For some women, vasomotor symptoms can be severe and debilitating, and hormone therapy is at least relatively contraindicated. Non-oestrogen therapies for hot flushes include SSRIs, clonidine, gabapentin and perhaps black cohosh extracts. Vulvovaginal atrophy can usually be alleviated by simple moisturizers, although some may need specialized physiotherapy such as vaginal dilators. In a small number, topical oestrogens may be the only treatment that works. The CO2 laser may be a novel, non-oestrogen therapy to alleviate this unpleasant symptom. Bone loss can be accelerated in some patients on AIs or those who had early menopause induced by chemotherapy.

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Stephan Petersenn, Albert Beckers, Diego Ferone, Aart van der Lely, Jens Bollerslev, Marco Boscaro, Thierry Brue, Paolo Bruzzi, Felipe F Casanueva, Philippe Chanson, Annamaria Colao, Martin Reincke, Günter Stalla, and Stelios Tsagarakis

Objective

A number of factors can influence the reported outcomes of transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) for Cushing's disease – including different remission and recurrence criteria, for which there is no consensus. Therefore, a comparative analysis of the best treatment options and patient management strategies is difficult. In this review, we investigated the clinical outcomes of initial TSS in patients with Cushing's disease based on definitions of and assessments for remission and recurrence.

Methods

We systematically searched PubMed and identified 44 studies with clear definitions of remission and recurrence. When data were available, additional analyses by time of remission, tumor size, duration of follow-up, surgical experience, year of study publication and adverse events related to surgery were performed.

Results

Data from a total of 6400 patients who received microscopic TSS were extracted and analyzed. A variety of definitions of remission and recurrence of Cushing's disease after initial microscopic TSS was used, giving broad ranges of remission (42.0–96.6%; median, 77.9%) and recurrence (0–47.4%; median, 11.5%). Better remission and recurrence outcomes were achieved for microadenomas vs macroadenomas; however, no correlations were found with other parameters, other than improved safety with longer surgical experience.

Conclusions

The variety of methodologies used in clinical evaluation of TSS for Cushing's disease strongly support the call for standardization and optimization of studies to inform clinical practice and maximize patient outcomes. Clinically significant rates of failure of initial TSS highlight the need for effective second-line treatments.