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Wilmar M Wiersinga

About 5%–10% of hypothyroid patients on T4 replacement therapy have persistent symptoms, despite normal TSH levels. It was hoped that T4 + T3 combination therapy might provide better outcomes, but that was not observed according to a meta-analysis of 11 randomized clinical trials comparing T4 monotherapy with T4 + T3 combination therapy. However, the issue is still subject of much research because normal thyroid function tests in serum may not necessarily indicate an euthyroid state in all peripheral tissues. This review evaluates recent developments in the field of T4 + T3 combination therapy. T4 monotherapy is associated with higher serum FT4 levels than in healthy subjects, and subnormal serum FT3 and FT3/FT4 ratios are observed in about 15% and 30% respectively. T4 + T3 combination therapy may mimic more closely thyroid function tests of healthy subjects, but it has not been demonstrated that relatively low serum FT3 or FT3/FT4 ratios are linked to persistent symptoms. One study reports polymorphism Thr92Ala in DIO2 is related to lower serum FT3 levels after thyroidectomy, and that the D2-Ala mutant reduces T4 to T3 conversion in cell cultures. Peripheral tissue function tests such as serum cholesterol reflect thyroid hormone action in target tissues. Using such biochemical markers, patients who had a normal serum TSH during postoperative T4 monotherapy, were mildly hypothyroid, whereas those with a TSH 0.03–≤0.3 mU/L were closest to euthyroidism. Peripheral tissue function tests suggest euthyroidism more often in patients randomized to T4 + T3 rather than that to T4. Preference for T4 + T3 combination over T4 monotherapy was dose-dependently related to the presence of two polymorphisms in MCT10 and DIO2 in one small study. It is not known if persistent symptoms during T4 monotherapy disappear by switching to T4 + T3 combination therapy. The number of patients on T4 + T3 therapy has multiplied in the last decade, likely induced by indiscriminate statements on the internet. Patients are sometimes not just asking but rather demanding this treatment modality. It creates tensions between patients and physicians. Only continued research will answer the question whether or not T4 + T3 combination therapy has true benefits in some patients.

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Ernesto Canalis

Skeletal anabolic agents enhance bone formation, which is determined by the number and function of osteoblasts. Signals that influence the differentiation and function of cells of the osteoblast lineage play a role in the mechanism of action of anabolic agents in the skeleton. Wnts induce the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells toward osteoblasts, and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) enhances the function of mature osteoblasts. The activity of Wnt and IGF-I is controlled by proteins that bind to the growth factor or to its receptors. Sclerostin is a Wnt antagonist that binds to Wnt co-receptors and prevents Wnt signal activation. Teriparatide, a 1–34 amino terminal fragment of parathyroid hormone (PTH), and abaloparatide, a modified 1–34 amino terminal fragment of PTH-related peptide (PTHrp), induce IGF-I, increase bone mineral density (BMD), reduce the incidence of vertebral and non-vertebral fractures and are approved for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Romosozumab, a humanized anti-sclerostin antibody, increases bone formation, decreases bone resorption, increases BMD and reduces the incidence of vertebral fractures. An increased incidence of cardiovascular events has been associated with romosozumab, which is yet to be approved for the treatment of osteoporosis. In conclusion, cell and molecular studies have formed the foundation for the development of new anabolic therapies for osteoporosis with proven efficacy on the incidence of new fractures.

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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.

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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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Georg Brabant, Robin P Peeters, Shiao Y Chan, Juan Bernal, Philippe Bouchard, Domenico Salvatore, Kristien Boelaert, and Peter Laurberg

Guideline advice of many societies on the management of subclinical hypothyroidism in pregnancy suggests treatment when TSH serum levels exceed 2.5 mU/l. Justification of this procedure is based on limited experience, mainly from studies carried out in patients with positive thyroid-specific antibodies and higher TSH levels that classically define the condition in the non-pregnant state. Taking into account a lack of clear understanding of the regulation of thyroid hormone transport through the utero-placental unit and in the absence of foetal markers to monitor the adequacy of thyroxine treatment, this review attempts to discuss currently available data and suggests a more cautious approach.

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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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Jens Bollerslev, Lars Rejnmark, Claudio Marcocci, Dolores M Shoback, Antonio Sitges-Serra, Wim van Biesen, and Olaf M Dekkers

Hypoparathyroidism (HypoPT) is a rare (orphan) endocrine disease with low calcium and inappropriately low (insufficient) circulating parathyroid hormone levels, most often in adults secondary to thyroid surgery. Standard treatment is activated vitamin D analogues and calcium supplementation and not replacement of the lacking hormone, as in other hormonal deficiency states. The purpose of this guideline is to provide clinicians with guidance on the treatment and monitoring of chronic HypoPT in adults who do not have end-stage renal disease. We intend to draft a practical guideline, focusing on operationalized recommendations deemed to be useful in the daily management of patients. This guideline was developed and solely sponsored by The European Society of Endocrinology, supported by CBO (Dutch Institute for Health Care Improvement) and based on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) principles as a methodological base. The clinical question on which the systematic literature search was based and for which available evidence was synthesized was: what is the best treatment for adult patients with chronic HypoPT? This systematic search found 1100 articles, which was reduced to 312 based on title and abstract. The working group assessed these for eligibility in more detail, and 32 full-text articles were assessed. For the final recommendations, other literature was also taken into account. Little evidence is available on how best to treat HypoPT. Data on quality of life and the risk of complications have just started to emerge, and clinical trials on how to optimize therapy are essentially non-existent. Most studies are of limited sample size, hampering firm conclusions. No studies are available relating target calcium levels with clinically relevant endpoints. Hence it is not possible to formulate recommendations based on strict evidence. This guideline is therefore mainly based on how patients are managed in clinical practice, as reported in small case series and based on the experiences of the authors.

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Dorte Glintborg and Marianne Andersen

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most prevalent endocrine condition in premenopausal women. The syndrome is characterized by hyperandrogenism, irregular menses and polycystic ovaries when other etiologies are excluded. Obesity, insulin resistance and low vitamin D levels are present in more than 50% patients with PCOS, these factors along with hyperandrogenism could have adverse effects on long-term health. Hyperinflammation and impaired epithelial function were reported to a larger extent in women with PCOS and could particularly be associated with hyperandrogenism, obesity and insulin resistance. Available data from register-based and data linkage studies support that metabolic-vascular and thyroid diseases, asthma, migraine, depression and cancer are diagnosed more frequently in PCOS, whereas fracture risk is decreased. Drug prescriptions are significantly more common in PCOS than controls within all diagnose categories including antibiotics. The causal relationship between PCOS and autoimmune disease represents an interesting new area of research. PCOS is a lifelong condition and long-term morbidity could be worsened by obesity, sedentary way of life, Western-style diet and smoking, whereas lifestyle intervention including weight loss may partly or fully resolve the symptoms of PCOS and could improve the long-term prognosis. In this review, the possible implications of increased morbidity for the clinical and biochemical evaluation of patients with PCOS at diagnosis and follow-up is further discussed along with possible modifying effects of medical treatment.

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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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Garcilaso Riesco-Eizaguirre and Pilar Santisteban

Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine malignancy giving rise to one of the most indolent solid cancers, but also one of the most lethal. In recent years, systematic studies of the cancer genome, most importantly those derived from The Cancer Genome Altas (TCGA), have catalogued aberrations in the DNA, chromatin, and RNA of the genomes of thousands of tumors relative to matched normal cellular genomes and have analyzed their epigenetic and protein consequences. Cancer genomics is therefore providing new information on cancer development and behavior, as well as new insights into genetic alterations and molecular pathways. From this genomic perspective, we will review the main advances concerning some essential aspects of the molecular pathogenesis of thyroid cancer such as mutational mechanisms, new cancer genes implicated in tumor initiation and progression, the role of non-coding RNA, and the advent of new susceptibility genes in thyroid cancer predisposition. This look across these genomic and cellular alterations results in the reshaping of the multistep development of thyroid tumors and offers new tools and opportunities for further research and clinical development of novel treatment strategies.