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M Wasniewska, F De Luca, M Valenzise, F Lombardo and F De Luca

This case report concerns a girl born from non-consanguineous parents and hospitalized in another hospital at the age of 14 days because of a severe salt-losing syndrome (Na=125, K=8.6 mEq/l). In spite of normal genitalia, diagnosis of 21-hydroxylase deficiency was assessed on the basis of a slightly increased 17-OH-progesterone serum level (6.4 ng/ml). The onset of both hydrocortisone and 9alpha-fluorohydrocortisone therapy was followed by a resolution of the clinical picture. At the age of 60 days she was admitted to our clinic for a re-evaluation of the diagnosis. Steroid hormone serum levels were measured after withdrawal of therapy and diagnosis of corticosterone methyl oxidase (CMO) deficiency type I was definitely established in the light of the biochemical results: i.e. very low 18-hydroxycorticosterone (18-OH-B) serum levels (20 pg/ml), an abnormally high corticosterone/18-OH-B serum ratio (306.5) and an abnormally low 18-OH-B/aldosterone serum ratio (2.1). This autosomal recessively inherited disorder can be differentiated from CMO type II and other salt-wasting syndromes only on the basis of the serum steroid hormone pattern. After establishing the diagnosis of CMO I deficiency, hydrocortisone therapy was withdrawn whilst treatment with 9alpha-fluorohydrocortisone was begun again, with a satisfactory clinical and metabolic impact. Direct sequences of the patient's DNA were able to identify only a (heterozygous) amino acid substitution in exon 7 of that gene, which is known to have only a small effect on enzyme activity and cannot be the only cause of the patient's phenotype: valine-386-alanine (V386A) GTG-->GcG. No homozygous mutations in the CYP11B2 gene were observed. This is the first report of a patient with CMO type I who does not carry any homozygous mutation in the entire CYP11B2 alleles, whereas some cases with no mutations in this gene have already been reported in CMO II. The present study seems to be inconsistent with the previously reported correlation of the phenotype and genotype in CMO type I. A reasonable question that might be raised on the basis of our findings in this case report is whether other genes, apart from CYP11B2, are involved in the regulation of terminal aldosterone synthesis.

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MF Messina, F De Luca, M Wasniewska, M Valenzise, F Lombardo and L Ghizzoni

Data concerning final height (FH) in isolated growth hormone deficiency type 1A (IGHD1A) are scanty and controversial. In this paper we report the FH outcome of two girls with IGHD1A who were treated either with GH only (first patient) or with GH during the first 8 years and successively with IGF-I (second patient). In the first patient, FH was only slightly subnormal and slightly taller with respect to target height (TH). Surprisingly, FH was severely subnormal and very far from TH in the patient who underwent IGF-I therapy for >5 years: an auxological outcome similar to the one recently reported in the only two cases in the literature of patients with IGHD1A who have been treated with IGF-I until near FH achievement. We conclude that IGHD1A could have a very heterogeneous phenotypic expression in terms of FH and that IGF-I therapy, even though initiated some years before puberty onset and prolonged for more than 5 years, may not be able to ensure the normalization of height prognosis and the achievement of an FH close to TH.

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T Arrigo, F De Luca, F Antoniazzi, F Galluzzi, M Segni, M Rosano, MF Messina and F Lombardo

OBJECTIVE: To investigate longitudinally body mass index (BMI) evolution and obesity prevalence in a large and very homogeneous study population consisting only of girls with non-organic central precocious puberty (CPP) who were treated with gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) for at least two years. PATIENTS AND DESIGN: The 101 girls with idiopathic CPP who were selected for this study fulfilled the following inclusion criteria: (a) suppression of gonadotropin and gonadal sex steroid secretion during the overall GnRHa treatment period; (b) adequate compliance with the therapy regimen. All the girls were treated for 44+/-14 months and were followed-up for 15.7+/-7.8 months after therapy withdrawal. RESULTS: At the start of therapy, 23.8% of the girls had a BMI exceeding 2 standard deviation scores (SDS) and were therefore classified as obese; both average BMI-SDS and obesity prevalence significantly decreased during the treatment period (chi(2)=16.6, P<0.0005) and only 4% of the patients, all with pre-existing obesity, were still obese at the end of therapy; during the therapy period, BMI-SDS increased in none of the patients. Both average BMI-SDS and obesity prevalence (from 4 to 0%; chi(2)=4.0, P<0.05) further decreased during the period that followed therapy withdrawal. CONCLUSIONS: (a) girls with idiopathic CPP are frequently obese at the onset of GnRHa therapy (23.8%), probably due to the hormonal changes which accompany the start of puberty; (b) their obesity is neither long-lasting nor related to GnRHa administration; (c) on the contrary, GnRHa therapy may have a favourable effect on BMI decrease, provided that treatment is performed for at least two years and is accompanied by a complete suppression of gonadotropin secretion; (d) this unexpected effect, which has never been reported hitherto, might represent a further indication for GnRHa administration in idiopathic CPP.

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F Monzani, N Caraccio, G Meucci, F Lombardo, G Moscato, A Casolaro, M Ferdeghini, L Murri and E Ferrannini

OBJECTIVE: Interferon-beta (IFN-beta) is a widely used therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS), a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. This study has evaluated the effect on thyroid function and autoimmunity of a 1-year treatment with IFN-beta1b in patients with MS. PATIENTS: We studied 31 patients (age 34+/-7 years, 21 women) with relapsing-remitting MS during IFN-beta1b treatment of 1 year duration. Systematic thyroid assessment and measurements of serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels were performed at baseline and every 3 months during treatment. RESULTS: Sixteen percent of the patients had autoimmune thyroiditis before IFN-beta1b, all positive for anti-peroxidase antibodies. The overall incidence of thyroid dysfunction was 33% over 1 year (10% hyperthyroidism, 23% hypothyroidism). Thyroid autoimmunity developed in 5/26 patients (19%), in one case without dysfunction. In addition to autoantibody positivity at baseline, female gender and the presence of an ultrasound thyroid pattern suggestive of thyroiditis were identified by multiple logistic regression as additional risk predictors for the development of thyroid dysfunction. During IFN-beta1b treatment, serum IL-6 levels rose in a consistent biphasic pattern; there was, however, no difference between patients with or without incident thyroid abnormalities. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that IFN-beta1b therapy can induce multiple alterations in thyroid function, some of which are unrelated to thyroid autoimmunity. IL-6 measurement is not useful to identify patients prone to develop thyroid abnormalities. Though thyroid dysfunction is generally subclinical and often transient, systematic thyroid assessment should be performed during IFN-beta1b treatment.

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T Arrigo, F De Luca, M Maghnie, A Blandino, F Lombardo, MF Messina, M Wasniewska, L Ghizzoni and M Bozzola

In this study, perinatal history, postnatal auxological and clinical evolution and endocrine features were retrospectively evaluated in 49 children, adolescents and young adults with apparently idiopathic hypopituitarism. They were divided into two groups according to magnetic resonance images: 32 patients with isolated pituitary hypoplasia (group A) and 17 with pituitary stalk interruption syndrome (group B). The aim of the study was to assess whether these neuroradiological pictures are associated with specific endocrine and clinical patterns. No significant difference in terms of gestational age, intrauterine growth and rates of adverse perinatal events was found between the two groups. Clinical signs documenting the existence of pituitary dysfunction in utero or shortly after birth were either slightly (micropenis, cryptorchidism, cholestatic jaundice) or significantly (hypoglycemia) more frequent in patients in group B. Although diagnosis of hypopituitarism was made significantly earlier in patients in group B, height deficiency at diagnosis was similar in both groups. Endocrine investigations revealed a more severe and widespread impairment of pituitary function among those in group B. The main conclusion is that the postnatal clinical course is more severe when growth hormone deficiency is associated with pituitary stalk interruption syndrome than when the pituitary is only reduced in height, probably because of the more severe and widespread impairment of pituitary function in the former cases.

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F Lombardo, F De Luca, M Rosano, C Sferlazzas, C Lucanto, T Arrigo, MF Messina, G Crisafulli, M Wasniewska, M Valenzise and D Cucinotta

OBJECTIVE: The loss of pancreatic beta-cells is thought to be one of the principal causes of diabetes mellitus (DM) in cystic fibrosis (CF), but the role of peripheral insulin resistance (IR) in the pathogenesis of DM in CF remains unclear. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether eventual changes of glucose tolerance (GT) over time were associated with modifications of insulin secretion or sensitivity. METHODS: Plasma glucose and insulin responses to an oral GT test (OGTT) were investigated and reinvestigated 13 Years later in 14 CF patients with initial and persistent fasting euglycemia and no history of insulin treatment. Insulin sensitivity (IS) at both tests was assessed on the basis of insulin and glucose levels both in the fasting state and during OGTTs. RESULTS: From the 1st to the 2nd OGTT: (a) the prevalence of DM responses significantly increased; (b) the areas beneath the respective glucose and insulin curves significantly increased and decreased respectively; (c) IR and IS indices decreased and increased respectively, even in the patients who developed DM; (d) pulmonary function significantly worsened in the entire series, especially in the patients who developed DM. CONCLUSIONS: (i) the natural history of glyco-metabolic status in CF is characterized by deteriorating GT over time; (ii) insulinopenia plays a prominent role in the pathogenesis of GT worsening; (iii) IR does not play any significant part in the pathogenesis of DM development; (iv) deterioration of lung function tests is more severe in the subjects who develop DM over time.

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M Wasniewska, F De Luca, A Cassio, N Oggiaro, P Gianino, M Delvecchio, R Aiazzi, V Stoppioni, F Lombardo, MF Messina, M Valenzise and T Arrigo

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate in a cohort of infants with congenital hypothyroidism (CH): (a) the frequency of bone maturation (BM) retardation at birth and (b) whether BM delay at birth may be considered as a tool to make a prognosis of psychomotor status at the age of 1 Year, irrespective of other variables related to treatment. DESIGN: BM at birth, CH severity and developmental quotient (DQ) at the age of 1 Year were retrospectively evaluated in 192 CH infants selected by the following inclusion criteria: (a) gestation age ranging between 38 and 42 weeks; (b) onset of therapy within the first Month of life; (c) initial thyroxine (l-T(4)) dosage ranging from 10 to 12 microg/kg/day; (d) normalization of serum thyrotropin (TSH) levels before the age of 3 Months; (e) Monthly adjustments of l-T(4) dose during the first Year of life with serum TSH levels ranging from 0.5 to 4 mIU/l; (f) no major diseases and/or physical handicaps associated with CH; (g) availability of both thyroid scanning and knee X-rays at the time of treatment initiation; (h) availability of DQ assessment at an average age of 12 Months. METHODS: BM was considered normal if the distal femur bony nucleus diameter exceeded 3 mm (group A) or retarded if either this nucleus was absent (subgroup B1) or its diameter was <3 mm (subgroup B2). DQ was evaluated with the Brunet-Lezine test. RESULTS: In 44.3% of cases BM was either delayed (23.5%) or severely delayed (20.8%). The risk of BM retardation was higher in the patients with athyreosis than in the remaining patients (41/57 vs 44/135, chi(2)=25.13, P<0.005). BM-retarded infants showed a more severe biochemical picture of CH at birth and a lower DQ at the age of one Year compared with the group A patients. If compared with infants of subgroup B2 those of subgroup B1 exhibited significantly lower T(4) levels at birth and a more frequent association with athyreosis (70.0 vs 30.0%; chi(2)=7.49, P<0.01), whereas DQ was superimposable in both subgroups. CONCLUSIONS: (a) BM at birth is delayed in almost half of CH patients and (b) CH severity per se can affect DQ at the age of 1 Year irrespective of other variables related to therapy.

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M Wasniewska, F De Luca, R Bergamaschi, MP Guarneri, L Mazzanti, P Matarazzo, A Petri, G Crisafulli, G Salzano and F Lombardo

OBJECTIVE: In order to ascertain the advantages of early GH treatment in Turner syndrome (TS), we started a prospective study aimed at evaluating prepubertal height gain in a cohort of 29 girls who were treated with the same pro-kilo GH dose (1.0 IU/kg per week) since they were less than 6 years old and for at least 5 years before entering puberty. PATIENTS AND DESIGN: Following a minimum of 6 months of baseline observations, 29 girls with TS were enrolled for this prospective study provided that they (a) were less than 6 years old, (b) were below -1.0 standard deviation score (SDS) for height, (c) had a projected adult height (PAH) lower than the respective target height (TH) and (d) had a height velocity (HV) lower than -1.0 SDS. All the selected girls underwent a 5-year treatment with biosynthetic GH at a stable dose of 1.0 IU/kg per week and were periodically measured during the treatment period in order to evaluate height, HV and PAH. RESULTS: After a dramatic acceleration during the 1st year, HV was attenuated during the subsequent years, reaching its nadir at the 5th year. Height deficiency under therapy progressively decreased from entry onwards, shifting from -2.4+/-0.7 to -1.0+/-1.2 SDS. In the same period, mean PAH progressively increased, although after 5 years it remained lower than the average TH. CONCLUSIONS: (a) An effective growth-promoting strategy in TS should be based on early GH treatment, as suggested by our results. (b) This strategy could result in a prepubertal normalization of height, thus allowing the appropriate timing for the induction of puberty. (c) An initial GH dose of 1.0 IU/kg per week may be suitable during the first years of therapy, as shown by our data documenting an important waning effect of GH therapy only after the 4th year of treatment. (d) No acceleration of bone maturation was observed under this treatment regimen.

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M Wasniewska, F De Luca, R Bergamaschi, MP Guarnieri, L Mazzanti, P Matarazzo, A Petri, G Crisafulli, G Salzano and F Lombardo