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Bernhard Mayr, Rolf Buslei, Marily Theodoropoulou, Günter K Stalla, Michael Buchfelder, and Christof Schöfl

Objective

GH-producing pituitary adenomas display two distinct morphological patterns of cytoplasmic GH-containing secretory granules, namely the densely and sparsely granulated somatotroph adenoma subtype. It is unknown whether these morphological variants reflect distinct pathophysiological entities at the molecular level.

Methods

In 28 GH-producing adenoma tissues from a consecutive set of patients undergoing pituitary surgery for acromegaly, we studied the GH granulation pattern, the expression of somatostatin receptor subtypes (SSTR) as well as the calcium, cAMP and ZAC1 pathways in primary adenoma cell cultures.

Results

The expression of GSP oncogene was similar between densely and sparsely granulated somatotroph adenoma cells. There were no differences in the calcium, cAMP and ZAC1 pathways as well as in their regulation by SSTR agonists. SSTR2 was exclusively expressed in densely but not in sparsely granulated tumours (membrane expression 86 vs 0%; cytoplasmic expression 67 vs 0%). By contrast, expression of SSTR5 was only found in sparsely but not in densely granulated somatotroph adenomas (membrane expression 29 vs 0%; cytoplasmic expression 57 vs 0%).

Conclusions

Our results indicate that different granulation patterns in GH-producing adenomas do not reflect differences in pathways and factors pivotal for somatotroph differentiation and function. In vitro, the vast majority of both densely and sparsely granulated tumour cells were responsive to SSTR activation at the molecular level. Sparsely granulated adenomas lacking SSTR2, but expressing SSTR5, might be responsive to novel SSTR agonists with increased affinity to SSTR5.

Free access

Caroline Sievers, Jens Klotsche, Lars Pieper, Harald J Schneider, Winfried März, Hans Ulrich Wittchen, Günter K Stalla, and Christos Mantzoros

Objective

Although associations between testosterone and cardiovascular (CV) morbidity in women have been proposed, no large prospective study has evaluated potential associations between testosterone and mortality in women. The objective was to determine whether baseline testosterone levels in women are associated with future overall or CV morbidity and mortality.

Design

Prospective cohort study with a 4.5-year follow-up period.

Methods

From a representative sample of German primary care practices, 2914 female patients between 18 and 75 years were analyzed for the main outcome measures: CV risk factors, CV diseases, and all-cause mortality.

Results

At baseline, the study population was aged 57.96±14.37 years with a mean body mass index of 26.71±5.17 kg/m2. No predictive value of total testosterone for incident CV risk factors or CV diseases was observed in logistic regressions. Patients with total testosterone levels in the lowest quintile Q1, however, had a higher risk to die of any cause or to develop a CV event within the follow-up period compared to patients in the collapsed quintiles Q2–Q5 in crude and adjusted Cox regression models (all-cause mortality: Q2–Q5 versus Q1: crude hazard ratios (HR) 0.49, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.33–0.74; adjusted HR 0.62, 95% CI 0.42–0.939; CV events: Q2–Q5 versus Q1: crude HR 0.54, 95% CI 0.38–0.77; adjusted HR 0.68, 95% CI 0.48–0.97). Kaplan–Meier curves revealed similar data.

Conclusions

Low baseline testosterone in women is associated with increased all-cause mortality and incident CV events independent of traditional risk factors.

Free access

Massimo Terzolo, Soraya Puglisi, Giuseppe Reimondo, Christina Dimopoulou, and Günter K Stalla

The literature on an association between acromegaly and cancer is particularly abundant on either colorectal cancer or thyroid cancer, and an endless debate is ongoing whether patients with acromegaly should be submitted to specific oncology screening and surveillance protocols. The aim of the present work is to review the most recent data on the risk of either colorectal cancer or thyroid cancer in acromegaly and discuss the opportunity for specific screening in relation to the accepted procedures in the general population.

Free access

Sarah M Leistner, Jens Klotsche, Christina Dimopoulou, Anastasia P Athanasoulia, Josefine Roemmler-Zehrer, Lars Pieper, Jochen Schopohl, Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, Günter K Stalla, Stephany Fulda, and Caroline Sievers

Objectives

Several studies reported decreased quality of life (QoL) and sleep as well as increased rates of depression for patients with pituitary adenomas. Our aim was to explore to what extent differences in depression and sleep quality contribute to differences in QoL between patients with pituitary adenomas and controls.

Design

A cross-sectional case–control study.

Setting

Endocrine Outpatient Unit of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Department of Internal Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, and the Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Technical University, Dresden.

Participants

Patients with pituitary adenomas (n=247) and controls (from the DETECT cohort, a large epidemiological study in primary care patients) matched individually by age and gender (n=757).

Measurements

Sleep quality was assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and QoL was measured by the generic EQ-5D and calculated by the time trade-off- and VAS-method. Depression was categorized as ‘no depression’, ‘subclinical depression’, and ‘clinical depression’ according to the Beck Depressions Inventory for patients and the Depression Screening Questionnaire for control subjects.

Statistical analyses

General linear and generalized, logistic mixed models as well as proportional odds mixed models were calculated for analyzing differences in baseline characteristics and in different subgroups.

Results

Patients with pituitary adenomas showed decreased QoL (VAS index: 0.73±0.19) and sleep (PSQI score: 6.75±4.17) as well as increased rates of depression (subclinical or clinical depression: 41.4%) compared with their matched control subjects (VAS index: 0.79±0.18, PSQI score: 5.66±4.31, subclinical or clinical depression: 25.9%). We have shown that a substantial proportion of the reduced QoL (48% respectively 65%) was due to the incidence of depression and reduced sleep quality.

Conclusions

These findings emphasize the importance of diagnosing depressive symptoms and sleep disturbances in patients with pituitary disease, with the ultimate goal to improve QoL in patients with pituitary adenomas.

Restricted access

Matthias K Auer, Dorothea Gebert, Sarah V Biedermann, Laura Bindila, Günter Stalla, Nicole Reisch, Anna Kopczak, and Johannes Fuss

Objective

Patients with craniopharyngioma (CP) frequently suffer from morbid obesity. Endocannabinoids (ECs) are involved in weight gain and rewarding behavior but have not been investigated in this context.

Design

Cross-sectional single-center study.

Methods

Eighteen patients with CP and 16 age- and sex-matched controls were included. Differences in endocannabinoids (2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA)) and endocannabinoid-like molecules (oleoyl ethanolamide (OEA), palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), and arachidonic acid (AA) were measured at baseline and following endurance exercise. We further explored ECs-dynamics in relation to markers of HPA-axis activity (ACTH, cortisol, copeptin) and hypothalamic damage.

Results

Under resting conditions, independent of differences in BMI, 2-AG levels were more than twice as high in CP patients compared to controls. In contrast, 2-AG and OEA level increased in response to exercise in controls but not in CP patients, while AEA levels decreased in controls. As expected, exercise increased ACTH and copeptin levels in controls only. In a mixed model analysis across time and group, HPA measures did not provide additional information for explaining differences in 2-AG levels. However, AEA levels were negatively influenced by ACTH and copeptin levels, while OEA levels were negatively predicted by copeptin levels only. There were no significant differences in endocannabinoids depending on hypothalamic involvement.

Conclusion

Patients with CP show signs of a dysregulated endocannabinoid system under resting conditions as well as following exercise in comparison to healthy controls. Increased 2-AG levels under resting conditions and the missing response to physical activity could contribute to the metabolic phenotype of CP patients.

Free access

Christina M Berr, Mareike R Stieg, Timo Deutschbein, Marcus Quinkler, Ralf Schmidmaier, Andrea Osswald, Nicole Reisch, Katrin Ritzel, Christina Dimopoulou, Julia Fazel, Stefanie Hahner, Günter K Stalla, Felix Beuschlein, and Martin Reincke

Background

Cushing’s syndrome (CS) is characterized by an excessive secretion of glucocorticoids that results in a characteristic clinical phenotype. One feature of clinical hypercortisolism is breakdown of protein metabolism translating into clinical consequences including glucocorticoid-induced myopathy. While surgery is effective in control of cortisol excess, the effect of biochemical remission on muscular function is yet unclear.

Methods

In a cross-sectional study we analyzed 47 patients with CS during the florid phase (ActiveCS). 149 additional patients were studied 2–53 years (mean: 13 years) after surgery in biochemical long-term remission (RemissionCS). Also, 93 rule-out CS patients were used as controls (CON). All subjects were assessed for grip strength using a hand grip dynamometer and underwent the chair rising test (CRT).

Results

Hand grip strength (85% vs 97% of norm, P = 0.002) and the CRT performance (9.5 s vs 7.1 s, P = 0.001) were significantly lower in ActiveCS compared to the CON group. Six months after treatment grip strength further decreased in CS (P = 0.002) and CRT performance remained impaired. The RemissionCS group (mean follow-up 13 years) had reduced hand grip strength (92% compared to normal reference values for dominant hand, P < 0.001). The chair rising test performance was at 9.0 s and not significantly different from the ActiveCS group (P = 0.45).

Conclusion

CS affects muscle strength in the acute phase, but functional impairment remains detectable also during long-term follow-up despite biochemical remission.

Free access

Günter K Stalla, Christina Dimopoulou, Caroline Jung-Sievers, Eduardo Arzt, Marcelo Paez Pereda, Marily Theodoropoulou, Denis Ciato, and Ulrich Renner

Although effective treatment regimens (surgical resection, drug treatment with dopamine agonists or somatostatin analogues, radiotherapy) have been established for the therapy of most pituitary tumours, a considerable proportion of affected patients cannot completely cured due to incomplete resection or drug resistance. Moreover, even if hormone levels have been normalized, patients with hormone-secreting tumours still show persistent pathophysiological alterations in metabolic, cardiovascular or neuropsychiatric parameters and have an impaired quality of life. In this review reasons for the discrepancy between biochemical cure and incomplete recovery from tumour-associated comorbidities are discussed and the clinical management is delineated exemplarily for patients with acromegaly and Cushing’s disease. In view of the development of additional treatment concepts for the treatment of pituitary adenomas we speculate about the relevance of RSUME as a potential target for the development of an anti-angiogenic therapy. Moreover, the role of BMP-4 which stimulates prolactinoma development through the Smad signalling cascade is described and its role as putative drug target for the treatment of prolactinomas is discussed. Regarding the well-known resistance of a part of somatotropinomas to somatostatin analogue treatment, recently identified mechanisms responsible for the drug resistance are summarized and ways to overcome them in future treatment concepts are presented. Concerning novel therapeutic options for patients with Cushing’s disease the impact of retinoic acid, which is currently tested in clinical studies, is shown, and the action and putative therapeutic impact of silibinin to resolve glucocorticoid resistance in these patients is critically discussed.

Free access

Luis G Pérez-Rivas, Marily Theodoropoulou, Troy H Puar, Julia Fazel, Mareike R Stieg, Francesco Ferraù, Guillaume Assié, Monica R Gadelha, Timo Deutschbein, Maria C Fragoso, Benno Kusters, Wolfgang Saeger, Jürgen Honegger, Michael Buchfelder, Márta Korbonits, Jérôme Bertherat, Günter K Stalla, Ad R Hermus, Felix Beuschlein, and Martin Reincke

Objective

Somatic mutations in the ubiquitin-specific protease 8 (USP8) gene are frequent in corticotroph tumors causing Cushing’s disease (CD). Corticotroph tumor progression, the so-called Nelson’s syndrome (NS), is a potentially life-threatening complication of bilateral adrenalectomy in patients with refractory CD that is caused by the development of an ACTH-secreting tumor of the pituitary gland. Whether USP8 alterations are also present in progressive Nelson’s tumors has not been studied in detail so far.

Design and Methods

Retrospective, multicenter study involving tumors from 33 patients with progressive corticotroph tumors (29 females) and screening for somatic mutations on the mutational hotspot of the USP8 gene in the exon 14 with Sanger sequencing.

Results

Fifteen out of 33 tumors (45%) presented with a mutation in the exon 14 of USP8, with c.2159C>A (p.Pro720Gln) being the most frequent (9/33), followed by c.2155_2157delTCC (p.Ser718del, 4/33) and c.2152T>C (p.Ser718Pro, 2/33). This prevalence is similar to that previously reported for CD. Mutations were found exclusively in females. Other variables, such as age at diagnosis with NS, body mass index, hyperpigmentation, visual field defects, adenoma size or mortality, did not significantly differ between patients with wild-type and mutant tumors. Patients with USP8 mutant tumors exhibited higher levels of plasma ACTH after surgery (median: 640 vs 112 pg/mL, P = 0.03). No differences were observed in ACTH normalization (<50 pg/mL) and tumor control after surgery for Nelson’s tumor.

Conclusion

Somatic mutations in USP8 are common in Nelson’s tumors, indicating that they do not drive the corticotroph tumor progression that leads to NS, and may be associated with a less favorable biochemical outcome after surgery for Nelson’s tumor.

Free access

Maria A Tichomirowa, Anne Barlier, Adrian F Daly, Marie-Lise Jaffrain-Rea, Cristina Ronchi, Maria Yaneva, Jonathan D Urban, Patrick Petrossians, Atanaska Elenkova, Antoine Tabarin, Rachel Desailloud, Dominique Maiter, Thomas Schürmeyer, Renato Cozzi, Marily Theodoropoulou, Caroline Sievers, Ignacio Bernabeu, Luciana A Naves, Olivier Chabre, Carmen Fajardo Montañana, Vaclav Hana, Georges Halaby, Brigitte Delemer, José Ignacio Labarta Aizpún, Emmanuel Sonnet, Ángel Ferrandez Longás, Marie-Thérèse Hagelstein, Philippe Caron, Günter K Stalla, Vincent Bours, Sabina Zacharieva, Anna Spada, Thierry Brue, and Albert Beckers

Background

Aryl hydrocarbon receptor interacting protein (AIP) mutations (AIPmut) cause aggressive pituitary adenomas in young patients, usually in the setting of familial isolated pituitary adenomas. The prevalence of AIPmut among sporadic pituitary adenoma patients appears to be low; studies have not addressed prevalence in the most clinically relevant population. Hence, we undertook an international, multicenter, prospective genetic, and clinical analysis at 21 tertiary referral endocrine departments.

Methods

We included 163 sporadic pituitary macroadenoma patients irrespective of clinical phenotype diagnosed at <30 years of age.

Results

Overall, 19/163 (11.7%) patients had germline AIPmut; a further nine patients had sequence changes of uncertain significance or polymorphisms. AIPmut were identified in 8/39 (20.5%) pediatric patients. Ten AIPmut were identified in 11/83 (13.3%) sporadic somatotropinoma patients, in 7/61 (11.5%) prolactinoma patients, and in 1/16 non-functioning pituitary adenoma patients. Large genetic deletions were not seen using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification. Familial screening was possible in the relatives of seven patients with AIPmut and carriers were found in six of the seven families. In total, pituitary adenomas were diagnosed in 2/21 AIPmut-screened carriers; both had asymptomatic microadenomas.

Conclusion

Germline AIPmut occur in 11.7% of patients <30 years with sporadic pituitary macroadenomas and in 20.5% of pediatric patients. AIPmut mutation testing in this population should be considered in order to optimize clinical genetic investigation and management.