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Danae A Delivanis, Maria D Hurtado Andrade, Tiffany Cortes, Shobana Athimulam, Aakanksha Khanna, Elizabeth Atkinson, Travis McKenzie, Naoki Takahashi, Michael R Moynagh, and Irina Bancos

Objective

Increased visceral fat and sarcopenia are cardiovascular risk factors that may explain increased cardiovascular morbidity and frailty in patients with adrenal adenomas. Our objective was to compare body composition measurement of patients with adrenal adenomas to referent subjects without adrenal disease.

Design

Cross-sectional study, 2014–2018.

Methods

Participants were adults with nonfunctioning adrenal tumor (NFAT), mild autonomous cortisol secretion (MACS), and Cushing syndrome (CS) and age, sex, and BMI 1:1 matched referent subjects without adrenal disorders. Main outcome measures were body composition measurements calculated from abdominal CT imaging. Intra-abdominal adipose tissue and muscle mass measurements were performed at the third lumbar spine level.

Results

Of 227 patients with adrenal adenomas, 20 were diagnosed with CS, 76 with MACS, and 131 with NFAT. Median age was 56 years (range: 18–89), and 67% were women. When compared to referent subjects, patients with CS, MACS, and NFAT demonstrated a higher visceral fat (odds ratio (OR): 2.2 (95% CI: 0.9–6.5), 2.0 (1.3–3.2), and 1.8 (1.2–2.7) and a lower skeletal muscle area (OR: 0.01 (95% CI: 0–0.09), 0.31 (0.18–0.49), and 0.3 (1.2–2.7)) respectively. For every 1 µg/dL cortisol increase after overnight dexamethasone, visceral fat/muscle area ratio increased by 2.3 (P = 0.02) and mean total skeletal muscle area decreased by 2.2 cm2 (P = 0.03).

Conclusion

Patients with adrenal adenomas demonstrate a lower muscle mass and a higher proportion of visceral fat when compared to referent subjects, including patients with NFAT. Even a subtle abnormality in cortisol secretion may impact health of patients with adenomas.

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Yu Xie, Changzhi Huang, Xingchen Zhu, Jiayu Wang, Xikang Fan, Zan Fu, Yanan Ma, and Dong Hang

Background

Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) is an important growth factor modulating development, homeostasis, and aging. However, whether and how circulating IGF1 concentrations influence early death risk in the general population remains largely unknown.

Methods

We included 380 997 participants who had serum IGF1 measurement and no history of cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), or diabetes at baseline from UK Biobank, a prospective cohort study initiated in 2006–2010. Restricted cubic splines and Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to assess the association between baseline IGF-1 concentrations and all-cause and cause-specific mortality.

Results

Over a median follow-up of 8.8 years, 10 753 of the participants died, including 6110 from cancer and 1949 from CVD. Dose–response analysis showed a U-shaped relationship between IGF1 levels and mortality. Compared to the fifth decile of IGF1, the lowest decile was associated with 39% (95% CI: 29–50%), 20% (95% CI: 8–34%), and 39% (95% CI: 14–68%) higher risk of all-cause, cancer, and CVD mortality, respectively, while the highest decile was associated with 17% (95% CI: 7–28%) and 38% (95% CI: 11–71%) higher risk of all-cause and CVD mortality, respectively. The results remained stable in detailed stratified and sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions

Our findings indicate that both low and high concentrations of serum IGF1 are associated with increased risk of mortality in the general population. Our study provides a basis for future interrogation of underlying mechanisms of IGF1 in early death occurrence and possible implications for mitigating the risk.

Open access

Min Sun, Jonathan W Mueller, Lorna C Gilligan, Angela E Taylor, Fozia Shaheen, Anna Noczyńska, Guy T’Sjoen, Louise Denvir, Savitha Shenoy, Piers Fulton, Timothy D Cheetham, Helena Gleeson, Mushtaqur Rahman, Nils P Krone, Norman F Taylor, Cedric H L Shackleton, Wiebke Arlt, and Jan Idkowiak

Context

17α-Hydroxylase/17,20-lyase deficiency (17OHD) caused by mutations in the CYP17A1 gene is a rare form of congenital adrenal hyperplasia typically characterised by cortisol deficiency, mineralocorticoid excess and sex steroid deficiency.

Objective

To examine the phenotypic spectrum of 17OHD by clinical and biochemical assessment and corresponding in silico and in vitro functional analysis.

Design

Case series.

Patients and results

We assessed eight patients with 17OHD, including four with extreme 17OHD phenotypes: two siblings presented with failure to thrive in early infancy and two with isolated sex steroid deficiency and normal cortisol reserve. Diagnosis was established by mass spectrometry-based urinary steroid profiling and confirmed by genetic CYP17A1 analysis, revealing homozygous and compound heterozygous sequence variants. We found novel (p.Gly111Val, p.Ala398Glu, p.Ile371Thr) and previously described sequence variants (p.Pro409Leu, p.Arg347His, p.Gly436Arg, p.Phe53/54del, p.Tyr60IlefsLys88X). In vitro functional studies employing an overexpression system in HEK293 cells showed that 17,20-lyase activity was invariably decreased while mutant 17α-hydroxylase activity retained up to 14% of WT activity in the two patients with intact cortisol reserve. A ratio of urinary corticosterone over cortisol metabolites reflective of 17α-hydroxylase activity correlated well with clinical phenotype severity.

Conclusion

Our findings illustrate the broad phenotypic spectrum of 17OHD. Isolated sex steroid deficiency with normal stimulated cortisol has not been reported before. Attenuation of 17α-hydroxylase activity is readily detected by urinary steroid profiling and predicts phenotype severity.

Significance statement

Here we report, supported by careful phenotyping, genotyping and functional analysis, a prismatic case series of patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 17α-hydroxylase (CYP17A1) deficiency (17OHD). These range in severity from the abolition of function, presenting in early infancy, and unusually mild with isolated sex steroid deficiency but normal ACTH-stimulated cortisol in adult patients. These findings will guide improved diagnostic detection of CYP17A1 deficiency.

Open access

Alexandra Kautzky-Willer

In this SARS-COV2-pandemic, diabetes mellitus (DM) soon emerged as one of the most prominent risk factors for a severe course of corona virus disease-2019 (COVID-19) and increased mortality due to hyperglycemia/insulin resistance, obesity, inflammation, altered immune status, and cardiovascular complications. In general, men are at a higher risk of severe or fatal COVID-19 disease irrespective of age, region and despite comparable infection rates in both sexes. In COVID-19, there is also a male predominance among hospitalized patients with diabetes, however, overall, data among patients with diabetes are ambiguous so far. Of note, similar to cardiovascular complications, women with type 2 diabetes (DM2) appear to lose their biological female advantage resulting in comparable death rates to those of men. The complex interplay of biological and behavioral factors, which may put men at greater risk of a severe or fatal course of COVID-19, and gender-related psychosocial factors, which may cause disadvantage to women concerning the infection rates, might explain why sex-disaggregated data among infected patients with diabetes are conflicting. Better knowledge on biological factors leading to functionally different immune responses and of gender-sensitive sociocultural determinants of COVID-19 infection rates may help to optimize prevention and management in the high-risk groups of men and women with diabetes.

Open access

Tansit Saengkaew, Heena R Patel, Kausik Banerjee, Gary Butler, Mehul T Dattani, Michael McGuigan, Helen L Storr, Ruben H Willemsen, Leo Dunkel, and Sasha R Howard

Context

Pubertal delay can be the clinical presentation of both idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (IHH) and self-limited delayed puberty (SLDP). Distinction between these conditions is a common but important diagnostic challenge in adolescents.

Objective

To assess whether gene panel testing can assist with clinical differential diagnosis and to allow accurate and timely management of delayed puberty patients.

Design

Retrospective study.

Methods

Patients presenting with delayed puberty to UK Paediatric services, followed up to final diagnosis, were included. Whole-exome sequencing was analysed using a virtual panel of genes previously reported to cause either IHH or SLDP to identify rarely predicted deleterious variants. Deleterious variants were verified by in silico prediction tools. The correlation between clinical and genotype diagnosis was analysed.

Results

Forty-six patients were included, 54% with a final clinical diagnosis of SLDP and 46% with IHH. Red flags signs of IHH were present in only three patients. Fifteen predicted deleterious variants in 12 genes were identified in 33% of the cohort, with most inherited in a heterozygous manner. A fair correlation between final clinical diagnosis and genotypic diagnosis was found. Panel testing was able to confirm a diagnosis of IHH in patients with pubertal delay. Genetic analysis identified three patients with IHH that had been previously diagnosed as SLDP.

Conclusion

This study supports the use of targeted exome sequencing in the clinical setting to aid the differential diagnosis between IHH and SLDP in adolescents presenting with pubertal delay. Genetic evaluation thus facilitates earlier and more precise diagnosis, allowing clinicians to direct treatment appropriately.

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James Nolan, Purdey J Campbell, Suzanne J Brown, Gu Zhu, Scott Gordon, Ee Mun Lim, John Joseph, Simone M Cross, Vijay Panicker, Sarah E Medland, Phillip E Melton, Lawrence J Beilin, Trevor A Mori, Benjamin H Mullin, Craig E Pennell, Carol A Wang, Frank Dudbridge, John P Walsh, Nicholas G Martin, and Scott G Wilson

Objective

Genetic factors underpin the narrow intraindividual variability of thyroid function, although precise contributions of environmental vs genetic factors remain uncertain. We sought to clarify the heritability of thyroid function traits and thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb) positivity and identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) contributing to the trait variance.

Methods

Heritability of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4 (fT4), free T3 (fT3) and TPOAb in a cohort of 2854 euthyroid, dizygous and monozygous twins (age range 11.9–16.9 years) from the Brisbane Longitudinal Twin Study (BLTS) was assessed using structural equation modelling. A genome-wide analysis was conducted on 2832 of these individuals across 7 522 526 SNPs as well as gene-based association analyses. Replication analysis of the association results was performed in the Raine Study (n = 1115) followed by meta-analysis to maximise power for discovery.

Results

Heritability of thyroid function parameters in the BLTS was 70.8% (95% CI: 66.7–74.9%) for TSH, 67.5% (59.8–75.3%) for fT4, 59.7% (54.4–65.0%) for fT3 and 48.8% (40.6–56.9%) for TPOAb. The genome-wide association study (GWAS) in the discovery cohort identified a novel association between rs2026401 upstream of NCOA3 and TPOAb. GWAS meta-analysis found associations between TPOAb and rs445219, also near NCOA3, and fT3 and rs12687280 near SERPINA7. Gene-based association analysis highlighted SERPINA7 for fT3 and NPAS3 for fT4.

Conclusion

Our findings resolve former contention regarding heritability estimates of thyroid function traits and TPOAb positivity. GWAS and gene-based association analysis identified variants accounting for a component of this heritability.

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Lucía Sentchordi-Montané, Sara Benito-Sanz, Miriam Aza-Carmona, Francisca Díaz-González, Silvia Modamio-Høybjør, Carolina de la Torre, Julián Nevado, Pablo Ruiz-Ocaña, Carolina Bezanilla-López, Pablo Prieto, Pilar Bahíllo-Curieses, Atilano Carcavilla, Inés Mulero-Collantes, Ana C Barreda-Bonis, Jaime Cruz-Rojo, Joaquín Ramírez-Fernández, José Antonio Bermúdez de la Vega, André M Travessa, Jesús González de Buitrago Amigo, Angela del Pozo, Elena Vallespín, Mario Solís, Carlos Goetz, Ángel Campos-Barros, Fernando Santos-Simarro, Isabel González-Casado, Purificación Ros-Pérez, Manuel Parrón-Pajares, and Karen E Heath

Objective

Next generation sequencing (NGS) has expanded the diagnostic paradigm turning the focus to the growth plate. The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of variants in genes implicated in skeletal dysplasias in probands with short stature and mild skeletal anomalies.

Design

Clinical and radiological data were collected from 108 probands with short stature and mild skeletal anomalies.

Methods

A customized skeletal dysplasia NGS panel was performed. Variants were classified using ACMG recommendations and Sherloc. Anthropometric measurements and skeletal anomalies were subsequently compared in those with or without an identified genetic defect.

Results

Heterozygous variants were identified in 21/108 probands (19.4%). Variants were most frequently identified in ACAN (n = 10) and IHH (n = 7) whilst one variant was detected in COL2A1, CREBBP, EXT1, and PTPN11. Statistically significant differences (P < 0.05) were observed for sitting height/height (SH/H) ratio, SH/H ratio standard deviation score (SDS), and the SH/H ratio SDS >1 in those with an identified variant compared to those without.

Conclusions

A molecular defect was elucidated in a fifth of patients. Thus, the prevalence of mild forms of skeletal dysplasias is relatively high in individuals with short stature and mild skeletal anomalies, with variants in ACAN and IHH accounting for 81% of the cases. An elevated SH/H ratio appears to be associated with a greater probability in detecting a variant, but no other clinical or radiological feature has been found determinant to finding a genetic cause. Currently, we cannot perform extensive molecular studies in all short stature individuals so detailed clinical and radiological phenotyping may orientate which are the candidate patients to obtain worthwhile results. In addition, detailed phenotyping of probands and family members will often aid variant classification.

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Joonatan Borchers, Outi Mäkitie, and Saila Laakso

Objective

Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy–candidiasis–ectodermal dystrophy (APECED) has variable clinical course. Overall mortality is increased but reasons for this remain largely unknown. Our objective was to assess the causes of death and factors contributing to increased mortality.

Design

A follow-up study of the Finnish APECED cohort in 1970–2019.

Methods

In 33 deceased patients with APECED, causes of death and clinical course preceding the death were analyzed using national registry data, death certificates, autopsy reports, and patient records.

Results

Most common causes leading to death were infections (24%), oral and esophageal malignancies (15%; median age at death 36.7 years; median survival 1.5 years), and diseases of the circulatory system (18%). Adrenal crisis was an independent cause of death in two patients. In addition, in four patients, the adrenal crisis was a complicating factor during a fatal infection. Other APECED manifestations leading to death were hypoparathyroidism, diabetes, and hepatitis. Other causes of death included accidents (12%), alcohol-related causes, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Challenges in overall, and especially in the endocrine, care contributed to deaths related to carcinomas and adrenal crisis. Age at death and year of death correlated (r = 0.345, P = 0.045), suggesting improved longevity.

Conclusions

Infections, malignancies, and diseases of the circulatory system are the most common primary causes of death in patients with APECED. Adrenal crisis is an independent cause of death but more often a contributing factor in fatal infections. Despite the high overall mortality and the demanding care, our results suggest improved patient survival in recent years.

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Aristeidis Giannakopoulos, Alexandra Efthymiadou, and Dionisios Chrysis

Objective

The diagnosis of growth hormone deficiency (GHD) in children is not always straightforward because insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-I) or GH stimulation tests may not be able to discriminate GHD from constitutional delay of growth and puberty (CDGP) or other causes of short stature.

Design

Boys and girls (n = 429, 0.7–16 years) who attended our department for short stature participated in this study. They were followed up for an average period of 9 years. At the end of follow-up after reaching the final height, a definitive diagnosis was assigned, and all the components of ternary complex (IGF-I, IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), acid-labile subunit (ALS), and IGF-I/IGFBP-3 ratio) were evaluated as biomarkers for the respective diagnosis.

Results

All the components of the ternary complex were tightly correlated with each other and were positively related to age. IGF-I, IGFBP-3, ALS, and IGF-I/IGFBP-3 ratio differed significantly between GHD and normal groups. IGF-I and ALS levels were lower in GHD compared to children with familial short stature, while IGF-I and IGF-I/IGFBP-3 ratio was significantly lower in GHD compared to children with CDGP. IGF-I and IGF-I/IGFBP-3 receiver operating curve cutoff points were unable to discriminate between GHD and normal groups or between GHD and CDGP groups.

Conclusion

Despite the tight correlation among all the components of the ternary complex, each one shows a statistically significant diagnosis-dependent alteration. There is a superiority of IGF-I, ALS, and IGF-I/IGFBP-3 ratio in the distinction between GHD and CDGP or between GHD and normal groups but without usable discriminating power, making auxology as the primary criterion for establishing the diagnosis.

Free access

Michael Swarbrick, Hong Zhou, and Markus Seibel

Glucocorticoids regulate a remarkable variety of essential functions, including development, immunomodulation, maintenance of circadian rhythm and the response to stress. Glucocorticoids acutely increase energy availability; this is accomplished not only by mobilizing energy stores but also by diverting energy away from anabolic processes in tissues such as skeletal muscle and bone. While this metabolic shift is advantageous in the short term, prolonged glucocorticoid exposure frequently results in central obesity, insulin resistance, hyperglycaemia, dyslipidaemia, muscle wasting and osteoporosis. Understanding how glucocorticoids affect nutrient partitioning is, therefore, critical for preventing the side effects of glucocorticoid treatment. Independently of circulating glucocorticoids, intracellular glucocorticoid activity is regulated by the 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases 1 and 2 (HSD11B1 and 2), which activate and inactivate glucocorticoids, respectively. Excessive HSD11B1 activity and amplification of local glucocorticoid activity in tissues such as adipose tissue and bone may contribute to visceral obesity, insulin resistance and ageing-related bone loss in humans. Several recent findings in animals have considerably expanded our understanding of how glucocorticoids exert their dysmetabolic effects. In mice, disrupting glucocorticoid signalling in either adipose tissue or bone produces marked effects on energy homeostasis. Glucocorticoids have also been shown to influence brown adipose tissue thermogenesis (acute activation, chronic suppression), in both rodents and humans. Lastly, recent studies in mice have demonstrated that many dysmetabolic effects of glucocorticoids are sexually dimorphic, although corresponding results in humans are lacking. Together, these studies have illuminated mechanisms by which glucocorticoids exert their metabolic effects and have guided us towards more targeted future treatments for metabolic diseases.