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M A E M Wagenmakers, R T Netea-Maier, J B Prins, T Dekkers, M den Heijer and A R M M Hermus

Objective

The determinants that cause impaired quality of life (QOL) in patients in long-term remission of Cushing's syndrome (CS) are unknown. The aim of this study was to get more insight into the patient and disease characteristics related to impaired QOL in these patients.

Design

Cross-sectional study.

Methods

The QOL of 123 patients in remission of CS (age 52.2±12.0 years, 106 women, duration of remission 13.3±10.4 years, 80% pituitary CS), assessed with seven validated questionnaires, was compared with the QOL of an age- and sex-matched control group (n=105). To investigate the influence of the aetiology of CS on QOL, patients in remission of pituitary and adrenal CS were compared. Furthermore, the influence of hormonal deficiencies, treatment strategy, duration of remission, gender and age on QOL was investigated.

Results

QOL in the total patient group and each patient subgroup was significantly worse on practically all dimensions of questionnaires compared with the control group (P<0.05), except for patients in remission of pituitary CS without hormonal deficiencies who had an impaired QOL on 50% of the QOL dimensions. Subgroup analysis revealed no difference in QOL between different patient groups, especially no difference between patients in remission of adrenal and pituitary CS. Female gender and a shorter duration of remission had a negative influence on QOL in the patient group.

Conclusions

QOL remains impaired in patients in long-term remission of CS regardless of aetiology, presence of hormonal deficiencies and treatment strategies. More research is needed to establish the causes.

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A. E. M. Smals, G. F. F. M. Pieters, A. G. H. Smals, A. R. M. M. Hermus, Th. J. Benraad and P. W. C. Kloppenborg

Abstract. In acromegalics, the percent peak GH responses to TRH (pTRH) and bromocriptine (pBr) are inversely related with those to GHRH, favouring the hypothesis that in the adenomas of some patients there is a preponderance of GH-producing cells with lactotrope-like characteristics, whereas in others pure somatotropes predominate. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether patients responsive to TRH with allegedly lactotrope-like tumours differ from those patients not responding to TRH with more somatotrope-like adenomas in their answer to the GH inhibitors Br and SRIH and the releasing hormones GHRH and GnRH. The present study demonstrates that the observed reciprocal relations between the GH responses to GHRH, TRH and Br are only present in acromegalics paradoxically responding to TRH (pGHRH vs pTRH −0.73, pGHRH vs pBr −0.60, pTRH vs pBr +0.54, P < 0.0002–P < 0.02, N = 20), not in TRH-non-responders (N = 10). In contrast, in these latter patients, not in the former, close relations were found between the percent peak GH responses to GnRH (pGnRH) and pGHRH (r = +0.81, P < 0.005) and between pGnRH and the percent maximum GH decrements in response to SRIH (pSRIH) (r = +0.64, P < 0.05). Expectedly, the GH response to Br in the TRH-responders was significantly higher than in the non-responders (75 ± 4% vs 54 ± 3%, P < 0.02), although it was also substantial in the latter. The GH response to SRIH was remarkedly similar in both groups (64 ± 5 vs 57 ± 9%, P > 0.10). Although the close relations between the GH responses to releasing and inhibiting agents favour the presence of GH-secreting tumours with more somatotrope or more lactotrope characteristics in subsets of acromegalics, they do not effectively predict the therapeutic response to these suppressive agents.

Free access

H A van Duyvenvoorde, M J E Kempers, Th B Twickler, J van Doorn, W J Gerver, C Noordam, M Losekoot, M Karperien, J M Wit and A R M M Hermus

Context

Acid-labile subunit (ALS) deficiency due to homozygous inactivation of the ALS gene (IGFALS) is associated with moderate short stature, and in few cases pubertal delay. The clinical expression of heterozygosity is unknown.

Objective

To investigate the clinical, laboratory, and radiological features of homozygous and heterozygous carriers of a novel mutation in the ALS gene in comparison with non-carriers.

Subjects

Three short Kurdish brothers and their relatives.

Results

The index cases presented with short stature, microcephaly, and low circulating IGF-I and IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), and undetectable ALS levels. Two were known with a low bone mineral density and one of them had suffered from two fractures. We found a novel homozygous ALS gene mutation resulting in a premature stop codon (c.1490dupT, p.Leu497PhefsX40). The IGF-I, IGFBP-3, and ALS 150 kDa ternary complex was absent, and ALS proteins in serum were not detected with western blot. IGFPB-1 and IGFPB-2 were low and there was a mild insulin resistance. Five heterozygous carriers tended to have a lower height and head circumference than five non-carriers, and had low plasma ALS and IGFBP-3 levels. Bone mineral (apparent) density was low in two out of three homozygous carriers, and also in four out of nine relatives.

Conclusions

The clinical presentation of homozygous ALS mutations may, besides short stature, include microcephaly. Heterozygous carriers may have less statural and head growth, suggestive for a gene dosage effect.

Free access

R T Netea-Maier, E J van Lindert, M den Heijer, A van der Eerden, G F F M Pieters, C G J Sweep, J A Grotenhuis and A R M M Hermus

Objective and design: The endoscopic technique has been recently introduced in the field of transsphenoidal pituitary surgery. This technique allows inspection of sellar, supra- and parasellar structures and removal of the tumor under direct visualization, is minimally traumatic and permits easier reoperations. This is the first report on the results of endoscopic surgery for patients with Cushing’s disease. Our aim was to retrospectively analyze the results of pituitary surgery in 35 consecutive patients with Cushing’s disease operated in our hospital after the introduction of the endoscopic technique (1998–2004).

Methods: Remission was defined as suppression of plasma cortisol (≤50 nmol/L) after 1 mg dexamethasone overnight determined in the first 3 months after surgery and disappearance of clinical signs and symptoms of hypercortisolism. The patients were followed for an average of 27 months (range 4 to 81 months, median 20 months).

Results: Pituitary MRI showed a macroadenoma in 6 patients, a microadenoma in 17 patients and no adenoma in 12 patients. After the initial surgery 27 patients (77%) were in remission. None of the patients had a relapse during follow-up. In the remaining 8 patients hypercortisolemia persisted after surgery. Three of them had a second endoscopic pituitary surgery resulting in remission in two patients. In one patient a second endoscopic pituitary surgery will soon follow. The remaining four patients were treated with radiotherapy postoperatively. Two of them were at the time of data collection in remission. One patient from the remission group had a serious epistaxis and three patients had cerebrospinal fluid leakage, one requiring an external lumbar drain, shortly after surgery. No complications were recorded in the failure group. Postoperatively 34% of all patients required substitution with levothyroxine, 40% required substitution with glucocorticoids, 17% received estrogens or testosterone and 6% still required desmopressin.

Conclusions: Endoscopic transsphenoidal pituitary surgery resulted in our series of patients with Cushings disease in an excellent postoperative remission rate. A randomized clinical trial, comparing endoscopic and conventional pituitary surgery in patients with Cushings disease, is needed to determine the pros and cons of both techniques.

Free access

Hedi L Claahsen-van der Grinten, Kristof Duthoi, Barto J Otten, Frank C H d'Ancona, Christina A Hulsbergen-vd Kaa and Ad R M M Hermus

Background

In contrast to the high incidence of testicular adrenal rest tumours (TART) in adult male patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), ovarian adrenal rest tumours in female CAH patients are very rare and other locations of adrenal rest tumours have never been reported. Here, we report on an adult patient with CAH due to 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD) deficiency with bilateral TART and additionally a large perirenal adrenal rest tumour.

Case report

The patient was known with CAH due to 3β-HSD deficiency and treated with hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone since the neonatal period. In puberty, there was lack of compliance with consequently high POMC concentrations. At the age of 16 years, bilateral TART were detected by scrotal ultrasound. Intensifying glucocorticoid medication did not result in decrease in POMC concentrations and shrinkage of size of the tumours. At the age of 23 years, abdominal ultrasound was performed because of abdominal complaints, showing a round inhomogeneous structure with a diameter of 4 cm near the left renal hilus. A computer tomography scan showed a multinodular lesion in the retroperitoneal region beside the left kidney. Histological investigation after removal of the tumour showed sheets of large polygonal cells with abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm, separated by dense fibrous tissue strands. The histological and immunohistochemical profile resulted in a diagnosis of an adrenal rest tumour.

Conclusion

In adult CAH patients, ectopic adrenal rest tumours can be present outside the testicular region. Further investigations are necessary to determine whether regularly screening for these tumours is useful.

Free access

Cornelie D Andela, Han Repping-Wuts, Nike M M L Stikkelbroeck, Mathilde C Pronk, Jitske Tiemensma, Ad R Hermus, Adrian A Kaptein, Alberto M Pereira, Noelle G A Kamminga and Nienke R Biermasz

Context

Patients with pituitary disease report impairments in Quality of Life (QoL) despite optimal biomedical care. Until now, the effects of a self-management intervention (SMI) addressing psychological and social issues for these patients and their partners have not been studied.

Objective

To examine the effects of a SMI i.e. Patient and Partner Education Programme for Pituitary disease (PPEP-Pituitary).

Design and subjects

A multicentre randomized controlled trial included 174 patients with pituitary disease, and 63 partners were allocated to either PPEP-Pituitary or a control group. PPEP-Pituitary included eight weekly sessions (90 min). Self-efficacy, bother and needs for support, illness perceptions, coping and QoL were assessed before the intervention (T0), directly after (T1) and after six months (T2). Mood was assessed before and after each session.

Results

Patients in PPEP-Pituitary reported improved mood after each session (except for session 1). In partners, mood only improved after the last three sessions. Patients reported higher self-efficacy at T1 (P = 0.016) which persisted up to T2 (P = 0.033), and less bother by mood problems directly after PPEP-Pituitary (P = 0.01), but more bother after six months (P = 0.001), although this increase was not different from baseline (P = 0.346). Partners in PPEP-Pituitary reported more vitality (P = 0.008) which persisted up to T2 (P = 0.034). At T2, partners also reported less anxiety and depressive symptoms (P ≤ 0.014).

Conclusion

This first study evaluating the effects of a SMI targeting psychosocial issues in patients with pituitary disease and their partners demonstrated promising positive results. Future research should focus on the refinement and implementation of this SMI into clinical practice.

Free access

Mark R Postma, Romana T Netea-Maier, Gerrit van den Berg, Jens Homan, Wim J Sluiter, Margreet A Wagenmakers, Alfons C M van den Bergh, Bruce H R Wolffenbuttel, Ad R M M Hermus and André P van Beek

Objective

To assess the influence of long-acting somatostatin analogs (SSTA) after initial pituitary surgery on long-term health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) in relation to disease control in patients with acromegaly.

Design

This is a cross-sectional study in two tertiary referral centers in The Netherlands.

Patients and methods

One hundred and eight patients with acromegaly, in whom transsphenoidal (n=101, 94%) or transcranial (n=7, 6%) surgery was performed. Subsequently, 46 (43%) received additional radiotherapy and 41 (38%) were on postoperative treatment with SSTA because of persistent or recurrent disease at the time of study. All subjects filled in standardized questionnaires measuring HR-QoL. Disease control at the time of study was assessed by local IGF1 SDS.

Results

IGF1 SDS were slightly higher in patients treated with SSTA in comparison with patients without use of SSTA (0.85±1.52 vs 0.25±1.21, P=0.026), but the percentage of patients with insufficient control (IGF1 SDS >2) was not different (17 vs 9%, P=0.208). Patients using SSTA reported poorer scores on most subscales of the RAND-36 and the acromegaly QoL and on all subscales of the multidimensional fatigue inventory-20. A subgroup analysis in patients with similar IGF1 levels (SSTA+, n=26, IGF1 SDS 0.44±0.72 vs SSTA−, n=44, IGF1 SDS 0.41±0.65) revealed worse scores on physical functioning, physical fatigue, reduced activity, vitality, and general health perception across all HR-QoL questionnaires in patients treated with SSTA.

Conclusion

QoL is impaired in association with the need for prolonged postoperative therapy by SSTA in patients with acromegaly despite similar IGF1 levels.

Free access

M A E M Wagenmakers, H D Boogaarts, S H P P Roerink, H J L M Timmers, N M M L Stikkelbroeck, J W A Smit, E J van Lindert, R T Netea-Maier, J A Grotenhuis and A R M M Hermus

Context

Although the endoscopic technique of transsphenoidal pituitary surgery (TS) has been widely adopted, reports on its results in Cushing's disease (CD) are still scarce and no studies have investigated long-term recurrence rates. This is the largest endoscopic series published till now.

Objective

To gain insight into the role of endoscopic TS as a primary treatment option for CD, especially in patients with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-negative CD and (invasive) macroadenomas.

Design

Retrospective cohort study.

Patients and methods

The medical records of 86 patients with CD who underwent endoscopic TS were examined. Data on preoperative and postoperative evaluation, perioperative complications, and follow-up were collected. Remission was defined as disappearance of clinical symptoms with a fasting plasma cortisol level ≤50 nmol/l either basal or after 1 mg dexamethasone.

Results

The remission rate in different adenoma subclasses varied significantly: 60% in MRI-negative CD (n=20), 83% in microadenomas (n=35), 94% in noninvasive macroadenomas (n=16), and 40% in macroadenomas that invaded the cavernous sinus (n=15). The recurrence rate was 16% after 71±39 months of follow-up (mean±s.d., range 10–165 months).

Conclusions

Endoscopic TS is a safe and effective treatment for all patients with CD. Recurrence rates after endoscopic TS are comparable with those reported for microscopic TS. Our data suggest that in patients with noninvasive and invasive macroadenomas, the endoscopic technique of TS should be the treatment of choice as remission rates seem to be higher than those reported for microscopic TS, although no comparative study has been performed.

Free access

Kim Freriks, Theo C J Sas, Maaike A F Traas, Romana T Netea-Maier, Martin den Heijer, Ad R M M Hermus, Jan M Wit, Janiëlle A E M van Alfen-van der Velden, Barto J Otten, Sabine M P F de Muinck Keizer-Schrama, Martin Gotthardt, Philippe H Dejonckere, Gladys R J Zandwijken, Leonie A Menke and Henri J L M Timmers

Objective

Short stature is a prominent feature of Turner syndrome (TS), which is partially overcome by GH treatment. We have previously reported the results of a trial on the effect of oxandrolone (Ox) in girls with TS. Ox in a dose of 0.03 mg/kg per day (Ox 0.03) significantly increased adult height gain, whereas Ox mg/kg per day (0.06) did not, at the cost of deceleration of breast development and mild virilization. The aim of this follow-up study in adult participants of the pediatric trial was to investigate the long-term effects of previous Ox treatment.

Design and methods

During the previous randomized controlled trial, 133 girls were treated with GH combined with placebo (Pl), Ox 0.03, or Ox 0.06 from 8 years of age and estrogen from 12 years. Sixty-eight women (Pl, n=23; Ox 0.03, n=27; and Ox 0.06, n=18) participated in the double-blind follow-up study (mean age, 24.0 years; mean time since stopping GH, 8.7 years; and mean time of Ox/Pl use, 4.9 years). We assessed height, body proportions, breast size, virilization, and body composition.

Results

Height gain (final minus predicted adult height) was maintained at follow-up (Ox 0.03 10.2±4.9 cm, Ox 0.06 9.7±4.4 cm vs Pl 8.0±4.6 cm). Breast size, Tanner breast stage, and body composition were not different between groups. Ox-treated women reported more subjective virilization and had a lower voice frequency.

Conclusion

Ox 0.03 mg/kg per day has a beneficial effect on adult height gain in TS patients. Despite previously reported deceleration of breast development during Ox 0.03 treatment, adult breast size is not affected. Mild virilization persists in only a small minority of patients. The long-term evaluation indicates that Ox 0.03 treatment is effective and safe.

Restricted access

T L C Wolters, S H P P Roerink, R B T M Sterenborg, M A E M Wagenmakers, O Husson, J W A Smit, A R M M Hermus and R T Netea-Maier

Objective

Acromegaly has a negative influence on health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Previous studies provide limited information on the course of HRQoL during treatment. This study aims to assess the effect of treatment on the course of HRQoL at six predefined time points.

Design

This prospective study examines HRQoL in treatment-naive patients before and during the first 2.5 years of acromegaly treatment.

Methods

Therapy-naive acromegaly patients completed three validated questionnaires (RAND-36, AcroQoL, and the Appearance Self-Esteem (ASE)) at six predetermined time points before, during, and after treatment. Outcomes were correlated to IGF1 levels and disease control status.

Results

Twenty-seven acromegaly patients completed the questionnaires at all time points. After treatment, all patients had controlled acromegaly. Scores of RAND-36 domains General health, Vitality and Health change, and all AcroQoL dimensions (except for Relations) improved during treatment (P ≤ 0.003); the largest changes were detected during the first year. Gender influenced HRQoL scores, since AcroQoL scores significantly improved in males but not in females. Over time, IGF1 levels were negatively correlated with HRQoL. After 2.5 years of follow-up, HRQoL of controlled patients was still lower than in the general population.

Conclusion

HRQoL of acromegaly patients was considerably reduced at diagnosis. Disease control was associated with an improvement of HRQoL scores. Males showed a more pronounced improvement than females. The largest changes were detected in the first year of treatment. However, HRQoL during and after treatment remained impaired in acromegaly patients, emphasizing the need of additional support.