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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.