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F Chiarelli, C Giannini and A Mohn

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and other chronic diseases in children are well known to adversely affect linear growth and pubertal development. In the years immediately following the introduction of insulin therapy, short stature was consistently reported in children with T1DM. However, over the past 50 years significant improvement in the prognosis for growth and final height in children with diabetes has been achieved. Although pre-pubertal and post-pubertal growth are important phases in growth, puberty and its related hormonal changes represent a critical phase for growth gain and final height particularly in patients with T1DM. Growth impairment reported in diabetic patients is dependent on abnormalities in physiological bone growth and corresponds to abnormalities of the growth hormone-insulin-like growth-I (GH-IGF-I) axis. These alterations seem to be related to appropriate insulin levels and thereby to glycaemic control as judged by haemoglobin levels. Modern diabetes care, particularly intensified insulin regimens, might improve metabolic control in patients with T1DM, therefore preventing abnormalities of the GH-IGF-I axis and leading to normal growth and final height similar to that of their unaffected peers.

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A Verrotti, G Loiacono, A Mohn and F Chiarelli

Diabetic autonomic neuropathy (DAN) represents a major complication of diabetes mellitus but there is considerable uncertainty about its incidence, prevalence, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and prognosis. There are conflicting opinions about the pathogenesis of DAN: the ‘classical hypothesis’ has been supplemented by some new insights. Clinical symptoms of autonomic neuropathy do not generally occur until long after the onset of diabetes. DAN seems to be detectable even in asymptomatic children and adolescents with diabetes and is associated with the most serious consequences, such as cardiovascular dysfunction. Because of its association with a variety of adverse outcomes, including cardiovascular deaths, cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy is the most clinically important and well-studied form of DAN. No form of therapy in DAN has been identified that provides unequivocal, safe, and effective stabilization or reversal of the condition, just a near normal control of blood glucose in the early years after the onset of diabetes that may delay the development of clinically significant nerve impairment. This article reviews recent developments in knowledge of epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical symptoms, diagnosis, and therapy of DAN.

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C Giannini, T de Giorgis, A Scarinci, I Cataldo, M L Marcovecchio, F Chiarelli and A Mohn

Design

In order to characterize whether different degrees of adipose tissue storage may be associated with markers of early atherosclerosis, we evaluated oxidant–antioxidant status and inflammatory markers and determined carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) in healthy constitutional lean and obese pre-pubertal children.

Methods

Eighty healthy pre-pubertal lean and obese children were recruited and compared with 40 age, gender, and pubertal stage-matched normal controls. Anthropometric measurements, oxidant (urinary isoprostanes (PGF-2α), lag phase, and malondialdehyde (MDA)) and antioxidant status (vitamin E), inflammatory markers (high sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)), and insulin sensitivity (fasting glucose–insulin ratio, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR)) were investigated. Furthermore, cIMT was measured by high-resolution ultrasound.

Results

hs-CRP was not different between lean and control subjects (P=0.45), while higher values were found in obese compared with lean and control children (P<0.001 and P<0.001 respectively). PGF-2α and MDA were higher while lag phase shorter in lean and obese subjects compared with controls (lean P<0.001; P<0.001; P<0.001 and obese P<0.001; P<0.001; P<0.001 respectively), while no differences were documented between lean and obese subjects (P=0.78, P=0.019, and P=0.53 respectively). Compared with controls, cIMT was increased in lean and in obese subjects (P=0.001; P=0.004), while no differences were documented between obese and lean subjects (P=0.1). In a multiple stepwise linear regression analysis, cIMT was related with PGF-2α (β=0.641, P<0.001) and HOMA-IR (β=0.307; P<0.001).

Conclusions

Pre-pubertal lean and obese children present increased oxidative stress and impaired inflammation and insulin sensitivity, which in turn seem to result in similar impaired endothelial dysfunction and early signs of atherosclerosis, already in childhood.