Pituitary incidentalomas are a by-product of modern imaging technology. The term ‘incidentaloma’ is neither a distinct diagnosis nor a pathological entity. Rather, it is a collective designation for different entities that are discovered fortuitously, requiring a working diagnosis based on the input of the radiologist, endocrinologist and often a neurosurgeon. In addition to pathological conditions affecting the pituitary gland, a thorough knowledge of the radiological characteristics of normal variants and technical artifacts is required to arrive at an accurate differential diagnosis. After careful radiological and hormonal evaluation, the vast majority of pituitary incidentalomas turn out to be non-functioning pituitary microadenomas and Rathke’s cleft cysts (RCCs). Based on the low growth potential of non-functioning pituitary microadenomas and RCCs, periodic MRI surveillance is currently considered the optimal management strategy. Stricter follow-up is required for macroadenomas, as increases in size occur more frequently.
Vladimir Vasilev, Liliya Rostomyan, Adrian F Daly, Iulia Potorac, Sabina Zacharieva, Jean-François Bonneville, and Albert Beckers
Irene Campi, Guia Vannucchi, and Mario Salvi
Management of Graves’ orbitopathy (GO) must be based on the correct assessment of activity and severity of the disease. Activity is usually assessed with the Clinical Activity Score, whereas severity is classified according to a European Group On Graves' Orbitopathy (EUGOGO) consensus statement as mild, moderate-to-severe, and sight-threatening. Myopathic and chronic congestive forms are uncommon clinical presentations of GO. Restoration and maintenance of stable euthyroidism are recommended in the presence of GO.
In moderate-to-severe disease, steroids have been widely employed and have shown to possess an anti-inflammatory activity, but about 20–30% of patients are not responsive and present recurrence. Some novel immunosuppressors have already been employed in clinical studies and have shown interesting results, although the lack of randomized and controlled trials suggests caution for their use in clinical practice. Potential targets for therapy in GO are the thyroid-stimulating hormone and the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor on the fibroblasts, inflammatory cytokines, B and T cells, and the PIK3/mTORC1 signaling cascades for adipogenesis. A recent open study has shown that tocilizumab, an anti-sIL-6R antibody, inactivates GO. Consistent reports on the efficacy of rituximab have recently been challenged by randomized controlled trials.
As the main goal of treatment is the well-being of the patient, the therapeutic strategy should be addressed to better suit the patient needs, more than improving one or more biological parameters. The increasing availability of new therapies will expand the therapeutic options for GO patients and allow the clinician to really personalize the treatment to better suit the patients’ personal needs.
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.
Lucía Sanz-Salvador, Miguel Ángel García-Pérez, Juan J Tarín, and Antonio Cano
Changes in bone density and bone markers suggest that pregnancy is associated with deterioration of bone mass in the mother. The metabolism of calcium resets to allow for the needs imposed by the building of the fetal skeleton. The fetus contributes to the process through the output of regulators from the placenta. Understanding of the whole process is limited, but some changes are unambiguous. There is an increase in the circulating levels of vitamin D, but its functional impact is unclear. Fetal parathyroid hormone (PTH) and PTH-related peptide (PTHrp) play an indirect role through support of a calcium gradient that creates hypercalcemia in the fetus. Placental GH, which increases up to the end of pregnancy, may exert some anabolic effects, either directly or through the regulation of the IGF1 production. Other key regulators of bone metabolism, such as estrogens or prolactin, are elevated during pregnancy, but their role is uncertain. An increase in the ratio of receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL) to osteoprotegerin (OPG) acts as an additional pro-resorbing factor in bone. The increase in bone resorption may lead to osteoporosis and fragility fracture, which have been diagnosed, although rarely. However, the condition is transitory as long-term studies do not link the number of pregnancies with osteoporosis. Prevention is limited by the lack of identifiable risk factors. When fractures are diagnosed, rest, analgesics, or, when indicated, orthopedic intervention have demonstrated efficacy. Systemic treatment with anti-osteoporotic drugs is effective, but the potential harm to the fetus imposes caution in their use.
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.
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.