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Elisabetta Romagnoli, Jessica Pepe, Sara Piemonte, Cristiana Cipriani and Salvatore Minisola

The growing attention to the role of vitamin D in skeletal and extra-skeletal diseases over the last decade induced an increased demand for vitamin D determination as well as a dramatic rise of sales of vitamin D supplement. However, several critical points in this field remain to be clarified. We lack a clear consensus about the definition of vitamin D deficiency, insufficiency, and sufficiency. The identification of different thresholds defining vitamin D status has relevant implications in clinical practice. In fact, the worldwide prevalence of low vitamin D status is highly varying according to the level of 25(OH)D utilized to define sufficiency. Therefore, the assessment of 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels may have a critical role, but a number of different technical problems associated with its determination may interfere in interpreting the results. The hydrophobic nature of vitamin D and the tight binding to its carrier (vitamin D binding protein), the different forms circulating in blood, and the issue of standardization are among the most important factors influencing the measurement of this metabolite. Another controversial point relies on the conflicting guidance on prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency endorsed by different medical and scientific communities. In particular, uncertainty exists about how to replete vitamin D stores, how to maintain normal 25(OH)D levels after repletion, which form of vitamin D is preferable for supplementation, and which route of administration and dosing regimens are advisable. Finally, concerns have been raised regarding vitamin D toxicity and its adverse effects.

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Jessica Pepe, Cristiana Cipriani, Chiara Sonato, Orlando Raimo, Federica Biamonte and Salvatore Minisola

Data on cardiovascular disease in primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) are controversial; indeed, at present, cardiovascular involvement is not included among the criteria needed for parathyroidectomy. Aim of this narrative review is to analyze the available literature in an effort to better characterize cardiovascular involvement in PHPT. Due to physiological effects of both parathyroid hormone (PTH) and calcium on cardiomyocyte, cardiac conduction system, smooth vascular, endothelial and pancreatic beta cells, a number of data have been published regarding associations between symptomatic and mild PHPT with hypertension, arrhythmias, endothelial dysfunction (an early marker of atherosclerosis), glucose metabolism impairment and metabolic syndrome. However, the results, mainly derived from observational studies, are inconsistent. Furthermore, parathyroidectomy resulted in conflicting outcomes, which may be linked to several potential biases. In particular, differences in the methods utilized for excluding confounding co-existing cardiovascular risk factors together with differences in patient characteristics, with varying degrees of hypercalcemia, may have contributed to these discrepancies. The only meta-analysis carried out in PHPT patients, revealed a positive effect of parathyroidectomy on left ventricular mass index (a predictor of cardiovascular mortality) and more importantly, that the highest pre-operative PTH levels were associated with the greatest improvements. In normocalcemic PHPT, it has been demonstrated that cardiovascular risk factors are almost similar compared to hypercalcemic PHPT, thus strengthening the role of PTH in the cardiovascular involvement. Long-term longitudinal randomized trials are needed to determine the impact of parathyroidectomy on cardiovascular diseases and mortality in PHPT.

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Salvatore Minisola, Cristiana Cipriani, Daniele Diacinti, Francesco Tartaglia, Alfredo Scillitani, Jessica Pepe and David Scott-Coombes

Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is one of the most frequent endocrine diseases worldwide. Surgery is the only potentially curable option for patients with this disorder, even though in asymptomatic patients 50 years of age or older without end organ complications, a conservative treatment may be a possible alternative. Bilateral neck exploration under general anaesthesia has been the standard for the definitive treatment. However, significant improvements in preoperative imaging, together with the implementation of rapid parathyroid hormone determination, have determined an increased implementation of focused, minimally invasive surgical approach. Surgeons prefer to have a localization study before an operation (both in the classical scenario and in the minimally invasive procedure). They are not satisfied by having been referred a patient with just a biochemical diagnosis of PHPT. Imaging studies must not be utilized to make the diagnosis of PHPT. They should be obtained to both assist in determining disease etiology and to guide operative procedures together with the nuclear medicine doctor and, most importantly, with the surgeon. On the contrary, apart from minimally invasive procedures in which localization procedures are an obligate choice, some surgeons believe that literature on parathyroidectomy over the past two decades reveals a bias towards localization. Therefore, surgical expertise is more important than the search for abnormal parathyroid glands.

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Salvatore Minisola, Luciano Colangelo, Cristiana Cipriani, Jessica Pepe, Dana Paulina Cook and Chantal Mathieu

Few topics have elicited more emotion than the issue of screening for vitamin D status and the discussion on the need for global supplementation with vitamin D metabolites. The importance of the problem is highlighted by the USPSTF posted draft research plan with the aim of making an update recommendations statement, possibly next year. Here, we discuss two different viewpoints on screening for vitamin D status: for and against. In the literature there are scientifically sound opinions supporting pro and cons positions. However, we believe that the best way to definitively elucidate this issue is the implementation of a randomized controlled trial evaluating clinical outcomes or harms in persons screened versus those not screened for vitamin D deficiency. The feasibility of such a trial is probably questionable owing to uncertainties still present concerning threshold for vitamin D sufficiency and end points (that is, for example, improved bone mineral density, reduced risk of falls and so on) to be reached.

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Cristiana Cipriani, Vincenzo Carnevale, Federica Biamonte, Sara Piemonte, Jessica Pepe, Luciano Nieddu, John P Bilezikian and Salvatore Minisola

Objective

Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is one of the most frequently diagnosed endocrine disorders, but few studies have focused on hospital management of the disease in Europe. We investigated the frequency of hospital admission for diagnosis and surgical treatment of PHPT in Italy.

Design

A retrospective study was conducted for investigating the hospital care for PHPT in Italy.

Methods

We retrieved data from the ‘Record of Hospital Discharge’ of the Italian Health Ministry, from 2006 to 2011, and analyzed the codes corresponding to PHPT-related diagnoses and surgical procedures.

Results

Overall, 46 275 hospitalization episodes for PHPT were identified during the entire period (69% in women and 31% in men; mean age 63.3±39.8 years). Patients' mean age significantly increased during the years (P<0.001). The mean length of stay was 8.2±10.5 days (28% of the episodes requiring <3 days of stay). Admissions for surgical procedures were 12 457 accounting for 26.9% of the total hospitalizations. There was a trend to a significant increase in the percentage of surgery (P<0.05). The mean hospitalization rate for PHPT was 12.9/100 000 inhabitants per year and the trend showed a significant decrease during the period of 2006–2011 (P<0.0001). The mean hospitalization rate for PHPT surgery was 3.65/100 000 per year, which significantly increased over time (P<0.001).

Conclusions

PHPT considerably influences the Italian Hospital healthcare system. We observed a tendency to a decrease in the frequency of hospitalization during the period of 2006–2011, most probably because of economic issues, a concomitant increased age of patients, and, interestingly, also a progressive increase in the percentage of surgical treatment among patients admitted for PHPT.

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Sara Piemonte, Elisabetta Romagnoli, Cristiana Cipriani, Federica De Lucia, Roberta Pilotto, Daniele Diacinti, Jessica Pepe and Salvatore Minisola

Objective

Tumor-induced osteomalacia is a rare paraneoplastic syndrome characterized by hypophosphatemia and inappropriately normal or low 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.

Clinical case

Here, we report a 6-year postoperative follow-up of a patient with oncogenic osteomalacia with a distinctive skeletal manifestation. The latter was characterized by an almost linear lytic lesion of a few millimeters with irregular borders, mainly involving the trabecular compartment but extending into cortical shell, located in the middle third of the right fibula. Six years after tumor resection, a sclerotic repair with a complete recovery was observed. Furthermore, we monitored a striking increase in bone mineral density throughout the observation period, reaching a peak of 73% over basal values at lumbar spine after 2 years; at total femur and radius, the peak was 47.5 and 4.6% respectively, after 4 years from tumor resection.

Conclusions

We report for the first time that an osteolytic lesion may be part of the skeletal involvement in tumor-induced osteomalacia.

Restricted access

Jessica Pepe, Cristiana Cipriani, Mario Curione, Federica Biamonte, Luciano Colangelo, Vittoria Danese, Veronica Cecchetti, Chiara Sonato, Federica Ferrone, Mirella Cilli and Salvatore Minisola

Objective

Hypercalcemia may induce arrhythmias. There are no data on the prevalence of arrhythmias in primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) in daily life. Aim of the study was to investigate both the prevalence of arrhythmias in patients with PHPT compared to controls and the impact of parathyroidectomy, evaluated by 24-h electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring.

Design

This is a randomized study.

Methods

Twenty-six postmenopausal women with PHPT and 26 controls were enrolled. PHPT patients were randomized to two groups: 13 underwent parathyroidectomy (Group A) and 13 were followed up conservatively (Group B). After 6 months, patients were studied again. Each patient underwent mineral metabolism biochemical evaluation, bone mineral density measurement, standard ECG and 24-h ECG monitoring.

Results

PHPT patients showed higher calcium and parathyroid hormone compared to controls and a higher prevalence of both supraventricular (SVBPs) and ventricular premature beats (VPBs) during 24-h ECG monitoring. Groups A and B showed no differences in mean baseline biochemical values and ECG parameters. Mean value of QTc in PHPT groups was in the normal range at baseline, but significantly shorter than controls. A negative correlation was found between QTc and ionized calcium levels (r = −0.48, P < 0.05). After parathyroidectomy, Group A had a significant reduction in SVPBs and VPBs compared to baseline and restored normal QTc. Group B showed no significant changes after a 6-month period.

Conclusions

The increased prevalence of SVPBs and VPBs is significantly reduced by parathyroidectomy, and it is mainly related to the short QTc caused by hypercalcemia.

Free access

Jessica Pepe, Daniele Diacinti, Emanuela Fratini, Italo Nofroni, Antonella D’Angelo, Roberta Pilotto, Claudio Savoriti, Luciano Colangelo, Orlando Raimo, Mirella Cilli, Cristiana Cipriani and Salvatore Minisola

Objective

The prevalence of abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) in primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is unknown. We assessed both prevalence and severity of AAC in PHPT postmenopausal women.

Methods

In this study 70 PHPT postmenopausal women and 70 age- and sex-matched controls were enrolled. Each participant underwent biochemical evaluation, lateral spine radiograph, bone mineral density (BMD) measurement (lumbar, femoral, radial sites), and kidney ultrasound. Lateral lumbar films were analyzed in the region of L1–L4 vertebrae and the Kauppila score (a semi-quantitative grading system) was used to assess the severity of AAC.

Results

There were no differences regarding demographic and cardiovascular risk factors in the two groups. PHPT patients had higher prevalence of kidney stones (30% vs 7%, P=0.0008) and lower radial BMD values (0.558±0.071 vs 0.588±0.082 g/cm2, P<0.05) compared with controls. PHPT patients showed higher prevalence of AAC (31 vs 18, P=0.03), with more severe calcifications (Kauppila score 7.35±6.1 vs 5.05±3.5, P=0.007). PHPT patients with AAC were older and had been suffering from the disease for a longer period compared with those without ACC. Moreover, PHPT patients with severe AAC had mean higher serum parathyroid hormone levels compared with patients with moderate or mild calcifications. In PHPT patients with AAC, multiple regression analysis, adjusted for age and years since diagnosis, showed that only parathyroid hormone significantly correlated with Kauppila score.

Conclusion

We found a higher prevalence and severity of AAC in PHPT related to parathyroid hormone effect.

Free access

Jessica Pepe, Mario Curione, Sergio Morelli, Marisa Varrenti, Camillo Cammarota, Mirella Cilli, Sara Piemonte, Cristiana Cipriani, Claudio Savoriti, Orlando Raimo, Federica De Lucia, Luciano Colangelo, Carolina Clementelli, Elisabetta Romagnoli and Salvatore Minisola

Objective

To investigate whether parathyroidectomy (PTx) reverses risk factors for arrhythmias related to the QT dynamic changes evaluated during bicycle ergometry exercise test (ET).

Methods

Twenty-four postmenopausal women with primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) (mean age 60.0±8.4 years) and 30 sex- and age-matched controls underwent ET, echocardiography, and biochemical evaluation. The following stages were considered during ET: rest, peak exercise, and recovery. The patients were randomized to two groups: 12 underwent PTx (group A) and 12 were followed-up conservatively (group B). After 6 months, the patients were studied again.

Results

Groups A and B showed no differences in mean baseline biochemical values, echocardiographic parameters, and QTc interval. PHPT patients showed an increased occurrence of ventricular premature beats (VPBs) during ET compared with controls (37.0 vs 6.6%, P=0.03). Serum calcium level was a predictor of VPBs (P=0.05). Mean value of QTc was in the normal range at baseline (group A: 401±16.9; group B: 402.25±13.5 ms) but significantly lower than controls (417.8±25.1 ms, P<0.01). A negative correlation was found between QTc and calcium values (P=0.03). Physiological reduction of QTc interval from rest to peak exercise was not observed in PHPT patients before surgery. After PTx, group A had a significant reduction in VPBs compared with baseline (at baseline, 5 of 12 vs none of 12 patients after PTx, P=0.03) and a restored normal QT adaptation during ET. Group B showed no significant changes after a 6-month period.

Conclusions

PTx reduces the occurrence of VPBs and restored the QTc adaptation during ET.