A comprehensive study from Denmark established that the systemic use of glucocorticoids hormones has an annual prevalence of 3% and has been stable from 1999 to 2014. We comment on the risk of potentially long-lasting adverse effects, dependent on glucocorticoid receptor overactivation, but also mineralocorticoid receptor under-activation. We discuss the potential effects of glucocorticoid use on efficacy and toxicity of other drugs that are frequently taken concomitantly. We discuss the potential alternatives such as more selective targeting, and novel types of glucocorticoid receptor ligands. We conclude that pending improved therapies more conservative prescription of glucocorticoids may be warranted in clinical practice.
Onno C Meijer and Alberto M Pereira
Marleen Kars, Ferdinand Roelfsema, Johannes A Romijn and Alberto M Pereira
Pituitary carcinomas are extremely rare. In general, the initial clinical, biochemical, and histological characteristics are of minimal utility in distinguishing benign adenomas from pituitary carcinomas. We describe a 63-year-old woman with a macroprolactinoma, who presented with diplopia and blurred vision. This unusual initial presentation and the subsequent aggressive clinical course, with diffuse local and distant intramedulary metastases, prompted us in retrospect to make a detailed analysis of the therapeutic interventions and histology. In addition, we reviewed all available literature on published cases of malignant prolactinoma and detailed their epidemiological, clinical, and histopathological characteristics. In brief, it is postulated that pituitary carcinomas arise from the transformation of initially large, but benign, adenomas. Unusual and/or atypical clinical manifestations appear to occur more frequently. In vivo, the development of dopamine agonist resistance in invasive macroprolactinoma is indicative of malignancy and should prompt the clinician to perform a biopsy of the tumor. For pituitary tumors that exhibit high mitotic activity, increased Ki-67 and/or p53 immunoreactivity, it may be useful to denote these tumors as ‘atypical’ prolactinomas to raise the possibility of future malignant development.
Natasha M Appelman-Dijkstra, Marnick Rijndorp, Nienke R Biermasz, Olaf M Dekkers and Alberto M Pereira
Recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) replacement is advocated in adult growth hormone-deficient (GHD) patients to increase bone mass and improve lipid profile, body composition, and quality of life. The long-term effects of discontinuation of rhGh replacement are unknown.
This cohort study and systematic review aim to evaluate the long-term metabolic effects of discontinuation of rhGh replacement in adult GHD patients, with a subgroup analyses according to age (< or > 60 years). Data on anthropometry, lipids, glucose, and bone mass density (BMD) were assessed for 3 years after discontinuation.
Cohort study included 64 patients who had discontinued rhGh replacement for >12 months. Fat percentage increased from 31.5±9.5% to 33.8±9.0% (mean difference 2.3, P=0.003). BMI decreased only in subjects <60 years (P=0.014). Glucose, total cholesterol, and LDL-cholesterol levels did not change; however, the percentage of patients on statins increased slightly from 39% to 44%. HDL-C concentration increased only in patients <60 years (mean difference 0.2, P=0.043). Lumbar spine BMD did not change; however, femoral neck BMD and bone turnover markers decreased in subjects <60 years (P=0.001). Systematic review included eight studies (n=166 patients) with a follow-up duration of 6–18 months. Of the eight studies, three qualified as low risk of bias and five as having an intermediate risk of bias. None of the studies reported handling of statins, bisphosphonates, and glucose-lowering medication or excluded patients using these medications.
In this study, discontinuation of rhGh replacement resulted in metabolic changes only in patients <60 years after 3 years. Further research warrants to determine the optimal strategies for (dis)continuation of rhGh replacement in adult patients with GHD.
John M Felt Jr, Sarah A Depaoli, Alberto M Pereira, Nienke R Biermasz and Jitske Tiemensma
Impaired quality of life (QoL) is common in patients after long-term remission of acromegaly. The acromegaly QoL (AcroQoL) is a disease-specific QoL questionnaire for patients diagnosed with acromegaly. The summed total score is the most frequently used scoring method of the AcroQoL. However, the total score does not capture all of the aspects of QoL that are outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The aim of the present study was to use novel and sophisticated confirmatory methods to identify the optimal number of subscales for the AcroQoL.
Design and patients
Patients in remission from acromegaly were recruited from the Leiden University Medical Center and were asked to complete the AcroQoL (Dutch version) questionnaire (n=72).
The three-subscale version of the AcroQoL consisted of subscales reflecting Physical Complaints, Appearance Issues, and Personal Relations Issues related to QoL. Model fit indices (i.e., comparative fit index and root mean square error of approximation) indicated that the three-subscale version represented the data better than the total score and two-subscale models did. A χ 2 difference test indicated that the three-subscale model was a significantly better fit than the total score and two-subscale models were (P<0.05).
Model fit and comparison statistics indicate that the three-subscale model is a better scoring method than the total score and two-subscale versions of the AcroQoL are. The three-subscale version also better reflected the WHO's recommendation of using a multidimensional measure of QoL than the total score and two-subscale methods did. Therefore, it is recommended that values from the three-subscales of the AcroQoL be reported in future research.
Charlotte Steffensen, Alberto M Pereira, Olaf M Dekkers and Jens Otto L Jørgensen
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and Cushing’s syndrome (CS) share clinical characteristics, and several small studies have recorded a high prevalence of hypercortisolism in T2D, which could have therapeutic implications. We aimed to assess the prevalence of endogenous hypercortisolism in T2D patients.
Systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature.
A search was performed in SCOPUS, MEDLINE, and EMBASE for original articles assessing the prevalence of endogenous hypercortisolism and CS in T2D. Data were pooled in a random-effect logistic regression model and reported with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).
Fourteen articles were included, with a total of 2827 T2D patients. The pooled prevalence of hypercortisolism and CS was 3.4% (95% CI: 1.5–5.9) and 1.4% (95 CI: 0.4–2.9) respectively. The prevalence did not differ between studies of unselected patients and patients selected based on the presence of metabolic features such as obesity or poor glycemic control (P = 0.41 from meta-regression). Imaging in patients with hypercortisolism (n = 102) revealed adrenal tumors and pituitary tumors in 52 and 14% respectively.
Endogenous hypercortisolism is a relatively frequent finding in T2D, which may have therapeutic implications.
Nienke R Biermasz, Neveen A T Hamdy, Alberto M Pereira, Johannes A Romijn and Ferdinand Roelfsema
Introduction: The anabolic actions of growth hormone (GH) are well documented. In acromegaly, the skeletal effects of chronic GH excess have been mainly addressed by evaluating bone mineral density (BMD). Most data were obtained in patients with active acromegaly, and apparently high or normal BMD was observed in the absence of hypogonadism. Data on BMD are not available after successful treatment of acromegaly. Whether the positive effect of GH excess on bone mass is maintained in the long term after clinical and biochemical cure of acromegaly remains to be established.
Patients and methods: In a cross-sectional study design, lumbar spine and femoral neck BMD was measured in 79 acromegalic patients cured or well controlled on octreotide treatment (45 male and 34 female patients; mean age 57±1 years). Successful treatment (by surgery, radiotherapy and/or use of octreotide) was defined as normal age-adjusted IGF-I. Mean time after biochemical remission was 10.2±7 years.
Results: Normal or increased BMD was observed at the femoral neck and lumbar spine in both men and women in remission after treatment for acromegaly. Similar results were obtained in patients in remission for 5 years or longer. Osteoporosis was present in 15% of the patients, with similar prevalence in men and women. There was no relationship between BMD and duration or severity of GH excess before treatment, gonadal status and presence of pituitary hormone deficiencies. Pituitary irradiation was a strong negative predictor of bone mass at the femoral neck. Long-term bone loss was observed only at the femoral neck.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that the anabolic effect of GH on trabecular and cortical bone remains demonstrable after remission of acromegaly, although it may not be maintained at cortical sites in the long term. In the present study, the lack of effect of gonadal status on BMD may be explained by the presence of only mild hypogonadism and by our policy of prompt hormonal replacement therapy for severe hypogonadism. The negative effect of pituitary irradiation on femoral neck BMD remains intriguing, although it is probably related to some degree of the diminished GH secretion frequently observed after this form of treatment.
Jitske Tiemensma, Alberto M Pereira, Johannes A Romijn, Elizabeth Broadbent, Nienke R Biermasz and Adrian A Kaptein
Context and objective
Patients with acromegaly have persistent complaints despite long-term biochemical control. Drawings can be used to assess patients' perceptions about their disease. We aimed to explore the utility of the drawing test and its relation to illness perceptions and quality of life (QoL) in patients after long-term remission of acromegaly.
A cross-sectional study was conducted to evaluate the utility of the drawing test.
A total of 50 patients after long-term remission (mean±s.e.m., 16±1.2 years) of acromegaly were included in this study. Patients completed the drawing test (two retrospective drawings of their body perception before acromegaly and during the active phase of acromegaly, and one drawing on the current condition after long-term remission), Illness Perception Questionnaire-Revised, Physical Symptom Checklist, EuroQoL-5D, and AcroQoL.
Patients perceived a dramatic change in body size during the active state of the disease compared with the healthy state before the awareness of acromegaly. Patients reported that their body did not completely return to the original proportions after long-term remission. In addition, larger drawings indicated more negative consequences (P<0.05), a higher score on emotional representations (P<0.05), and more perceived symptoms that were attributed to acromegaly (P<0.01). Larger drawings also indicated more impaired QoL, especially disease-specific QoL (all P<0.05).
There are strong correlations among the drawing test, illness perceptions, and QoL. The drawing test appears to be a novel and relatively easy tool to assess the perception of patients after long-term remission of acromegaly. The assessment of drawings may enable health care providers to appreciate the perceptions of patients with long-term remission of acromegaly, and enable discussion of symptoms and remission.
Natasha M Appelman-Dijkstra, Kim M J A Claessen, Ferdinand Roelfsema, Alberto M Pereira and Nienke R Biermasz
The beneficial effects of recombinant human GH (rhGH) therapy in GH deficient (GHD) adults are well-established in the short term. However, data documenting the effects during prolonged follow-up are relatively scarce.
To evaluate the reported effects of rhGH replacement (≥5 years) in GHD adults on biochemical and anthropometric parameters, quality of life (QoL), bone metabolism, muscle strength, serious adverse events and mortality.
We conducted a systematic literature search. Quality assessment of retrieved papers was performed using a quality assessment based on the modified STROBE statement.
We included 23 prospective studies with a rhGH treatment duration ranging from 5 to 15 years. Overall, beneficial effects were reported on QoL, body composition, lipid profile, carotid intima media thickness and bone mineral density. In contrast, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, glucose levels, BMI and muscle strength were not, or negatively, influenced. Most of the studies were uncontrolled, lacked the presence of a control group (of non-treated GHD patients), and reported no data on lipid-lowering and anti-diabetic medication. Overall mortality was not increased.
rhGH treatment in adult GHD patients is well-tolerated and positively affects QoL in the long term. However, the metabolic and cardiovascular effects during long-term treatment are variable. The low numbers of long-term studies and studied patients and lack of control data hamper definite statements on the efficacy of prolonged treatment. Therefore continuous monitoring of the effects of rhGH replacement to enable an adequate risk-benefit analysis that may justify prolonged, potentially life-long, treatment is advisable.
Femke M van Haalen, Leonie H A Broersen, Jens O Jorgensen, Alberto M Pereira and Olaf M Dekkers
The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to investigate whether mortality is increased in patients biochemically cured after initial treatment for Cushing's disease. This is a systematic review and meta-analysis of follow-up studies in patients cured from Cushing's disease after initial treatment was performed. Eight electronic databases were searched from 1975 to March 2014 to identify potentially relevant articles. Original articles reporting the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for patients cured of Cushing's disease were eligible for inclusion. SMRs were pooled in a random effects model. I 2 statistics was used for quantification of heterogeneity. Eight cohort studies with a total of 766 patients were included. Out of eight studies, seven showed an SMR above 1.0 for cured patients. The pooled SMR was 2.5 (95% CI 1.4–4.2). The I 2 statistics showed evidence for statistical heterogeneity (78%, Q-statistics P<0.001), which was largely explained by two outliers. This meta-analysis reveals that mortality remains increased in patients with Cushing's disease even after initial biochemical cure remission, suggesting that cure does not directly reverse the metabolic consequences of long-term overexposure to cortisol. Other conditions such as hypopituitarism, including persistent adrenocortical insufficiency after surgery, may also contribute to the increased mortality risk.
Ferdinand Roelfsema, Alberto M Pereira, Nienke R Biermasz, Marijke Frolich, Daniel M Keenan, Johannes D Veldhuis and Johannes A Romijn
The hypothalamus–pituitary–thyroid axis in Cushing's syndrome may be altered. Previous reports have shown diminished serum TSH concentration and decreased response to TRH.
We analyzed serum TSH profiles in relation to cortisol profiles in patients with hypercortisolism of pituitary (n=16) or primary-adrenal origin (n=11) and after remission by pituitary surgery (n=7) in order to delineate aberrations in the hypothalamus–pituitary–thyroid system.
Patients and controls (n=27) underwent a 24-h blood sampling study. Serum TSH and cortisol were measured with precise methods, and data were analyzed with a deconvolution program, approximate entropy (ApEn), and cosinor regression.
Pulsatile TSH secretion and mean TSH pulse mass were diminished during hypercortisolism, independently of etiology (P<0.001). TSH secretion was increased in patients in remission only during daytime due to increased basal secretion (P<0.01). Pulse frequency and half life of TSH were similar in patients and controls. TSH ApEn (irregularity) was increased in patients with hypercortisolism (P<0.01), but was normal in cured patients. Cross-ApEn between TSH and cortisol, a measure of pattern synchrony loss, was increased in active disease, indicating (partial) loss of secretory synchrony. The TSH rhythm was phase delayed in hypercortisolemic patients, but normal in cured patients (P<0.01). Free thyroxine levels were decreased only in pituitary-dependent hypercortisolism compared with controls (P=0.003). Total 24-h TSH correlated negatively and linearly with log-transformed cortisol secretion (R=0.43, P=0.001).
Cortisol excess decreases TSH secretion by diminishing pulsatile release, whereas surgically cured patients have elevated nonpulsatile TSH release. Diminished TSH secretory regularity in active disease suggests glucocorticoid-induced dysregulation of TRH or somatostatinergic/annexin-1 control.