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M Duclos, JB Corcuff, F Pehourcq and A Tabarin

OBJECTIVE: Muscular exercise induces hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation and when regularly repeated, as in endurance training, leads to HPA axis adaptation. To assess whether non-professional endurance-trained (ET) men with a substantial training load and no clinical or biological features of HPA axis overactivity can present subtle alterations of HPA axis sensitivity to glucocorticoid negative feedback, nine ET men were subjected to HPA axis testing using the dexamethasone-corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) test. DESIGN: Nine endurance-trained men and eight healthy age-matched sedentary men were studied. Morning plasma cortisol and 24 h urinary free cortisol (UFC) were determined and a low dose dexamethasone suppression test (LDDST) was performed followed by CRH stimulation (dexamethasone-CRH test). RESULTS: After a day without physical exercise, at 0800 h, plasma ACTH and cortisol concentrations, and the 24 h UFC and UFC/urinary creatinine (UC) ratio were similar in ET and sedentary men. By contrast, clear differences between the groups were seen in cortisol and ACTH responses to the dexamethasone-CRH test. In eight ET subjects, after LDDST, basal ACTH and cortisol levels were similar to those of sedentary men, whereas one ET subject displayed a poor suppression of cortisol level (131 nmol/l). After injection of CRH, however, three of nine ET men's cortisol levels were not suppressed by dexamethasone but instead displayed significant CRH-induced increase (peak cortisol: 88, 125 and 362 nmol/l). No sedentary subject exhibited any increase in cortisol levels. CONCLUSION: Three of nine ET men with a mean maximum rate of O2 uptake (VO2, max) of 61 ml/kg per min, running 50-70 km per week, were resistant to glucocorticoid suppression during the combined dexamethasone-CRH test.

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P Caron, A Tabarin, M Cogne, P Chanson and P Jaquet

OBJECTIVE: Intramuscular injections of 30mg slow-release (SR) lanreotide (every 10 to 14 days) are an effective treatment in acromegalic patients. Because of an ongoing need to assess the efficacy and the tolerance of a new formulation of a depot preparation of lanreotide, we have evaluated prospectively GH profiles following withdrawal of 30mg slow-release lanreotide in a cohort of acromegalic patients. PATIENTS: Fifty-one acromegalic patients, controlled during long-term 30mg SR lanreotide treatment (GH: 1.44 +/- 0.64 microgram/l, IGF-I: 316 +/- 145ng/ml) (mean +/- s.d.), were studied following the withdrawal of the drug. MEASUREMENTS: Mean GH (half-hour samples, 0800-1200h), IGF-I and lanreotide levels were evaluated 14, 28, and 42 days following the last 30mg SR lanreotide injection. RESULTS: Mean GH levels remained below 2.5 microgram/l in 32 patients (group 1) twenty-eight days following SR lanreotide withdrawal. In these patients, mean GH and IGF-I levels had increased from 1.2 +/- 0.6 to 1.7 +/- 0.5 microgram/l (P < 0001), and from 283 +/- 138 to 359 +/- 168ng/ml (P < 0.001) respectively. In the 19 other patients (group 2), mean GH concentrations had risen above 2.5 microgram/l at 28 days following SR lanreotide withdrawal. Mean GH and IGF-I levels had increased from 1.9 +/- 0.4 to 5.1 +/- 2.8 microgram/l (P < 0.001), and from 371 +/- 143 to 568 +/- 206ng/ml (P < 0.001) respectively. Patients of groups 1 and 2 were comparable with regard to age, sex, tumoral status, mean GH levels before somatostatin analogue treatment, and previous treatments such as radiotherapy and duration of somatostatin analogue therapy, but 75% of group 1 patients underwent surgery compared with 37% of group 2 patients (P < 0.01). Twenty-eight days following SR lanreotide withdrawal, mean lanreotide levels in group 1 and group 2 had decreased from 1.6 +/- 0.7 to 0.6 +/- 0.3ng/ml (P < 0.001), and from 2.7 +/- 2.0 to 0.7 +/- 0.7ng/ml (P < 0.001) respectively. A negative correlation was observed between the lanreotide levels and GH and IGF-I concentrations in the two groups of patients, but the inhibition of GH/IGF-I concentrations by lanreotide levels was higher in group 1 patients than in those of group 2. Six patients of group 1 were treated with 30mg SR lanreotide injected at monthly intervals. During monthly follow-up, mean GH levels increased above 2.5 microgram/l in 2 patients. After 12 months follow-up, mean GH and IGF-I levels from 4 other patients were similar to those obtained with previous therapeutic sequence (i.e. intramuscular injections every 14 days). CONCLUSION: The degree of responsiveness to lanreotide and the duration of somatotroph suppression following lanreotide withdrawal are variable in acromegalic patients controlled during long-term 30mg SR lanreotide treatment. In patients displaying high sensitivity to lanreotide, the interval between i.m. 30mg SR lanreotide injections can be increased to one month, thus reducing the cost of the therapy, without altering its efficacy upon GH/IGF-I control.

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HV Socin, P Chanson, B Delemer, A Tabarin, V Rohmer, J Mockel, A Stevenaert and A Beckers

OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to report the recent changes in diagnosis and management of TSH-secreting pituitary adenomas. METHODS: We retrieved 43 consecutive patients with TSH-secreting pituitary tumors (23 male and 20 female) among 4400 pituitary adenomas followed between 1976 and 2001 in six Belgian and French centers. RESULTS: TSH was elevated in 18/43 and alpha subunit in 13/32 patients. In patients with intact thyroid (n=30), mean free tri-iodothyronine was 13.1 pmol/l (range 3.5-23) and mean free thyroxine was 38.4 pmol/l (range 10.2-62.7). Hyperprolactinemia and acromegaly were associated in 9/43 and 8/43 cases. The number of associated hypersecretions was higher in macroadenomas than in microadenomas (Chi square = 11.2, P<0.01). Two women had sporadic multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1-associated syndrome. The proportion of microadenomas versus macroadenomas was 1/11 (period 1974-1986) and 8/32 (period 1987-2001). Bilateral petrosal sinus sampling, (111)In-pentreotide scintigraphy and ((11)C)-l-methionine positron emission tomography scan confirmed diagnosis in four questionable microadenomas. Macroadenomas with extrasellar extension (31 cases) had a tendency to be medially located. Medical treatment with somatostatin analogs was initiated as first-line treatment in 26 patients. TSH levels were reduced by more than 50% in 23/26 cases. A tumoral shrinkage of more than 20% was observed in 5/13 cases. Surgery was performed in 36 patients. After 1 year, 21 of them (58.3%) met the criteria of surgical favorable outcome. Pituitary radiotherapy (n=8) and somatostatin analogs allowed normalization in cases not cured by surgery. CONCLUSION: Ultrasensitive methods for TSH measurement led to an earlier recognition of TSH-secreting pituitary tumors. In this series, we observed that TSH-secreting pituitary tumors are today more frequently found at the stage of microadenomas, medially located, without associated hypersecretions and needing new exploration methods as compared with older series. This changing spectrum in the presentation of TSH-secreting pituitary tumors and the excellent response to somatostatin analogs has been accompanied by an improvement in the prognosis of the disease.

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A Tabarin, JB Corcuff, M Rashedi, A Navarranne, D Ducassou and P Roger

Recent reports suggest that, contrary to radioimmunoassays (RIA), immunoradiometric assays (IRMA) artifactually decrease plasma ACTH levels in patients with the ectopic ACTH syndrome. Discrepancies between RIA and IRMA results may provide a means of discriminating this entity from Cushing's disease. We have compared the results of these two techniques, together with those of a β-endorphin assay, in 1 7 patients with Cushing's disease, 9 with the ectopic ACTH syndrome and 30 controls. ACTH-RIA and ACTH-IRMA levels in patients with Cushing's disease were similar (17.5±2.5 vs 15.1±2.8 pmol/l) and were correlated (rs=0.59, p<0.01). ACTH-RIA levels in patients with the ectopic ACTH syndrome were higher than ACTH-IRMA levels (27.3±2.9 vs 14.5±2.5, p<0.01) and these did not correlate. The ACTH-RIA and ACTH-RIA/ACTH-IRMA ratio levels in patients with the ectopic ACTH syndrome were higher than those of patients with Cushing's disease (p<0.01), but they overlapped with these in 27 and 31% of cases respectively. Plasma β-endorphin level was higher in patients with the ectopic ACTH syndrome than in patients with Cushing's disease (81.9±19.4 vs 26.4±5.6 pmol/l, p <0.01) and was correlated with ACTH only in patients with Cushing's disease. The overlap in β-endorphin and β-endorphin/ACTH-IRMA molar ratio levels between the two groups were 19 and 27% respectively. Although no parameter could be used to make clearcut distinction between Cushing's disease and the ectopic ACTH syndrome, the discriminative power of β-endorphin level was clearly better than that of the comparison between ACTH-RIA and ACTH-IRMA levels.

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MC Vantyghem, N Ronci, F Provost, A Ghulam, J Lefebvre, X Jeunemaitre and A Tabarin

Normotensive primary hyperaldosteronism is exceedingly rare. We report two new cases of this syndrome in two middle-aged women, one of Asian origin. The presenting signs were tetany in one case and an adrenal mass in the other. Neither patient had hypertension, despite repeated measurements with a manual armlet. A typical biological profile of primary hyperaldosteronism was demonstrated in both patients, including hypokalemia with inappropriate kaliuresis, elevated resting plasma aldosterone, and undetectable plasma renin activity. The circadian rhythm of blood pressure was studied by ambulatory monitoring pre- and post-operatively. It confirmed the lack of hypertension, but the circadian rhythm of blood pressure was lost before surgery in one patient. Surgical removal of the histologically typical aldosterone-producing adenomas normalized the kalemia. The main finding in these two patients was spontaneously low blood pressure in the post-operative period. This suggests that excess aldosterone induced relative hypertension in these patients whose blood pressure was spontaneously very low. Genetic screening for dexamethasone-sensitive hyperaldosteronism was negative in both patients.

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P Petrossians, N Ronci, H Valdes Socin, A Kalife, A Stevenaert, B Bloch, A Tabarin and A Beckers

OBJECTIVES: The authors present a case report that proposes the use of cabergoline treatment in silent ACTH adenoma, an unusual member of the heterogeneous group of the so-called clinically non-functioning pituitary adenomas. DESIGN: Following the clinical and radiological improvement of a recurrent silent ACTH adenoma in a 77-year-old patient treated with cabergoline (0.5 mg every 2 days for 2 years), in vitro studies of the original tumor were performed. METHODS: The original tumor from the patient was studied by in situ hybridization and dopamine D2 receptor autoradiography. It was compared with four macroprolactinomas and two macroadenomas from patients with Cushing's disease. RESULTS: The D2 receptor mRNA signal of the reported case was intense and of the same order of magnitude as that observed in control prolactinomas. Dopamine D2 receptor autoradiography was twice that of control corticotroph adenomas and was close to that observed in prolactinomas. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first description of an in vivo shrinkage of an ACTH silent adenoma under cabergoline. We demonstrate in vitro, the presence of D2 receptors in the primitive tumor in concentrations similar to those found in control prolactinomas. These results suggest that therapeutic trials with cabergoline might be undertaken in recurring cases of ACTH silent tumors and more generally, non-functioning pituitary adenomas.

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H Gin, B Catargi, V Rigalleau, E Rullier, P Roger and A Tabarin

Surgical removal is the treatment of choice for insulinomas. Definitive biochemical diagnosis of organic hyperinsulinism has to be established before surgery. These tumors are sometimes undetected by preoperative imaging investigations and, in addition, surgical management may also be complicated by the absence of palpable tumors or the presence of multiple tumors. We report the value of the euglycemic clamp technique for diagnosis and surgical treatment in 21 patients with confirmed insulinomas. Data were compared with 12 controls, and nine patients were retested after surgery. During the euglycemic hyperinsulinic clamp, the mean C-peptide value was 3.6+/-2.2 ng/ml and it remained high (3.8+/-2.5 ng/ml), despite exogenous hyperinsulinemia (1762.7+/-233.2 microU/ml for the highest plateau). In contrast, the C-peptide concentration declined in 12 control patients (0.3+/-0.1 ng/ml, P < 0.001) and after successful surgery in nine retested patients (0.3+/-0.2 ng/ml, P < 0.01). During continuous glucose monitoring, successful removal of the insulin-secreting tumor was accompanied by an increase in plasma glucose concentrations and a loss of requirement for endogenous glucose within 36 min (range 28-43 min). The continuing requirement for glucose after the ablation of the tumor revealed the existence of additional and initially undetected tumors in four patients, among whom two had the multiple endocrine neoplasia type I (MEN I) syndrome. We conclude that the euglycemic hyperinsulinic clamp is a reliable and convenient diagnostic test for insulinoma, as it is both safe (no hypoglycemia) and relatively brief (3 x 90 min). Glucose monitoring and glucose clamping provide a reliable indicator of complete removal of insulin-hypersecreting tissue, especially in patients with occult or multiple tumors.

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B Catargi, F Leprat, M Guyot, N Valli, D Ducassou and A Tabarin

The best approach to radioiodine dose selection in the treatment of Graves' hyperthyroidism remains highly controversial. The formula to calculate the individual dose of (131)I to be delivered has been used for half a century and takes into account the thyroid mass, the effective half-life and the maximum uptake of (131)I. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the accuracy of this formula by determining the relationship between the administered dose of (131)I calculated to deliver a target dose of 50Gy to the thyroid and the actual exact organ dose. We further analyzed if therapeutic success, defined by euthyroidism following the individually calculated dose, can be predicted by different pretreatment parameters and particularly by organ dose. One hundred patients with a first episode of Graves' disease and who had received optimal thyroid irradiation after precise dosimetry were retrospectively reviewed. The patients were categorized according to their thyroid function (plasma free thyroxine (T(4)) serum concentration) as eu-, hyper- or hypothyroid during and 1 year after treatment. The relationship between the administered dose and organ dose was assessed by simple regression. We compared free T(4), free tri-iodothyronine, thyroid weight, the number of patients with antithyroperoxidase antibodies and TSH receptor autoantibodies, 24h urinary iodine excretion, (131)I uptake, and the exact dose of (131)I delivered to the thyroid as pretreatment variables. Although we found a correlation between administered dose (mCi) and organ dose (Gy) (r=0.3, P=0.003), the mean coefficient of variation for organ dose was 45%. Individualized radioiodine therapy enabled euthyroidism in 26% of patients and failed in 74% of patients (33% had persistent or recurrent hyperthyroidism and 41% permanent hypothyroidism). (131)I uptake was significantly higher in the hyperthyroidism group in comparison with the euthyroid group. However, organ dose and other pretreatment variables did not differ among the three groups. In conclusion, these results confirm the low performance of individual dosimetry using what are established ratios, since the delivered dose to the gland, although correlated to the intended dose, is highly variable. The finding that other usual pretreatment variables are not different between groups, gives little hope for improving the way of calculating the ideal dose of radioiodine. We suggest to those not yet ready to give a standard or an ablative dose for Graves' hyperthyroidism that they abandon this way to calculate the (131)I dose.

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M Marty, D Gaye, P Perez, C Auder, M L Nunes, A Ferriere, M Haissaguerre and A Tabarin


The recent recommendations of the European Endocrine Society states that the performance of computed tomography (CT) to characterize ‘true' adrenal incidentalomas (AIs) remains debatable.


To determine relevant thresholds for usual CT parameters for the diagnosis of benign tumors using robust reference standard among a large series of ‘true’ AIs recruited in an endocrinological setting.


Retrospective study of 253 AIs in 233 consecutive patients explored in a single university hospital: 183 adenomas, 33 pheochromocytomas, 23 adrenocortical carcinomas, 5 other malignant tumors and 9 other benign tumors. Reference standard was histopathology in 118 AIs, biological diagnosis of pheochromocytoma in 2 AIs and size stability after at least 1 year of follow-up in 133 AIs.


Sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values were estimated for various thresholds of size, unenhanced attenuation (UA), relative and absolute wash-out (RPW, APW) of contrast media. 197 scans were reviewed independently in a blinded fashion by two expert radiologists to assess inter-observer reproducibility of measurements.


Criteria associated with a 100% positive predictive value for the diagnosis of benign AI were: a combination of size and UA: 30 mm and 20 HU or 40 mm and 15 HU, respectively; RPW >53%; and APW >78%. Non-adenomatous AIs with rapid contrast wash-out were exclusively benign pseudocysts and pheochromocytomas, suggesting that classical thresholds of 60% and 40% for APW and RPW, respectively, can be safely used for patients with normal metanephrine values. Inter-observer reproducibility of all parameters was excellent (intra-class correlation coefficients: 0.96–0.99).


Our study, the largest conducted in AIs recruited in an endocrinological setting, suggests safe thresholds for quantitative CT parameters to avoid false diagnoses of benignity.

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N Valli, B Catargi, N Ronci, V Vergnot, F Leccia, JM Ferriere, G Chene, N Grenier, F Laurent and A Tabarin

OBJECTIVE: Biochemistry and I-6beta-iodomethyl norcholesterol scintigraphy (IMS) have both been used to assess cortisol secretion by adrenocortical incidentalomas. However, which biochemical abnormalities indicate subclinical corticoid excess is still debatable whilst IMS is expensive and cumbersome. The aim of the study was to evaluate prospectively patients with adrenal incidentalomas using both IMS and biochemical methods to examine whether the IMS pattern is associated with biochemical abnormalities and, if this is so, to find a biochemical parameter that could be used as a screening test to identify a subset of patients on whom IMS could subsequently be performed. METHODS: Thirty-one patients with benign cortical adenomas were recruited from 43 consecutive patients with adrenal incidentalomas. All 31 patients underwent IMS and measurement of (i) 0800 h serum cortisol, ACTH, dehydroepiandrosterone and 17-hydroxyprogesterone; (ii) midnight serum cortisol; (iii) 2400 h excretion of urinary free cortisol; (iv) cortisol after the overnight 1 mg dexamethasone (DEX) suppression test; (v) cortisol after an i.v. 4 mg DEX test; (vi) determination of the diurnal variation in serum cortisol. RESULTS: Sixty-one per cent of patients displayed unilateral uptake during IMS and 39% showed bilateral uptake. Patients with unilateral uptake exhibited significantly lower ACTH concentrations (P=0.0005), higher midnight cortisol concentrations (P=0.02), disrupted diurnal variation of serum cortisol (P=0.02) and higher cortisol concentrations after DEX suppression tests (P=0.01). Cortisol concentrations following the two DEX suppression tests correlated closely (r=0.80, P=0.0001). The i.v. 4 mg DEX test was clearly more sensitive for the diagnosis of unilateral uptake than the overnight 1 mg DEX test (76 vs 52%). Using various thresholds of cortisol concentration following the overnight 1 mg DEX test, it was found that the sensitivity of the test could be improved to 100% if the threshold was set at 60 nmol/l rather than the classical value of 138 nmol/l. All patients but one with post-test serum cortisol concentrations above 60 nmol/l as against none of patients with cortisol below 60 nmol/l exhibited at least one associated biochemical abnormality indicating subclinical glucocorticoid excess. CONCLUSION: In adrenocortical incidentalomas, unilateral uptake during IMS suggests subclinically excessive and/or autonomous cortisol secretion. A cortisol concentration above 60 nmol/l following the overnight 1 mg DEX test is highly correlated with unilateral uptake and is associated with biochemical abnormalities indicating subclinical glucocorticoid excess. Our results favour the use of the 1 mg overnight DEX test with revised criteria of interpretation as a screening test for subclinical hypercortisolism among patients with adrenocortical incidentalomas.