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  • Author: Fabio Lanfranco x
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Andrea Benso, Fabio Broglio, Gianluca Aimaretti, Barbara Lucatello, Fabio Lanfranco, Ezio Ghigo and Silvia Grottoli

Context

Chronic hypoxia induces complex metabolic and endocrine adaptations. High-altitude (HA) exposure is a physiological model of hypoxia.

Objective

To further investigate the endocrine and metabolic responses to extreme HA.

Methods

We studied nine male elite climbers at sea level and at 5200 m after climbing Mt. Everest.

Results

After 7 weeks at HA, body weight was reduced (P<0.05); regarding endocrine variables we observed: a) an increase of 2-h mean GH concentration (P<0.05) as well as of total IGF-I and IGF binding protein-3 levels (P<0.05 for both); b) a prolactin increase (P<0.05) coupled with testosterone decrease (P<0.01) and progesterone increase (P<0.05) without any change in estradiol levels: c) no change in cortisol, ACTH, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels; d) an increase in free thyroxine (P<0.05) and free tri-iodothyronine (T3) decrease (P<0.05) but no change in TSH levels; e) a plasma glucose decrease (P<0.05) without any change in insulin levels; f) an increase in mean free fatty acid levels (P<0.05); g) despite body weight loss, leptin levels showed non-significant trend toward decrease, while ghrelin levels did not change at all.

Conclusions

The results of the present study in a unique experimental human model of maximal exposure to altitude and physical exercise demonstrate that extreme HA and strenuous physical exercise are coupled with specific endocrine adaptations. These include increased activity of the GH/IGF-I axis and a low T3 syndrome but no change in ghrelin and leptin that was expected taking into account body weight decrease. These findings would contribute to better understanding human endocrine and metabolic physiology in hypoxic conditions.

Free access

Roberta Giordano, Daniela Forno, Fabio Lanfranco, Chiara Manieri, Lucia Ghizzoni and Ezio Ghigo

Objective

Turner's syndrome (TS) is a rare genetic disorder caused by complete or partial X chromosome monosomy in a phenotypic female, and it is associated with increased morbidity and mortality for cardiovascular diseases, impaired glucose tolerance, and dyslipidemia.

Subjects and methods

In 30 adult TS patients under chronic hormonal replacement therapy (HRT), 17β-estradiol (E2), body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, fasting glucose and insulin, homeostatic model assessment (HOMA) index, serum lipids, oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), 24 h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), and intima–media thickness (IMT) were evaluated and compared with those in 30 age- and sex-matched controls (CS).

Results

No difference was found between TS and CS in E2 and BMI, whereas waist circumference was higher (P<0.05) in TS (77.7±2.5 cm) than in CS (69.8±1.0 cm). Fasting glucose in TS and in CS was similar, whereas fasting insulin, HOMA index, and 2 h glucose after OGTT were higher (P<0.0005) in TS (13.2±0.8 mUI/l, 2.5±0.2, and 108.9±5.5 mg/dl respectively) than in CS (9.1±0.5 mUI/l, 1.8±0.1, and 94.5±3.8 mg/dl respectively). Total cholesterol was higher (P<0.05) in TS (199.4±6.6 mg/dl) than in CS (173.9±4.6 mg/dl), whereas no significant differences in high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides were found between the two groups. In 13% of TS, ABPM showed arterial hypertension, whereas IMT was <0.9 mm in all TS and CS. A negative correlation between insulin levels, HOMA index, or 2 h glucose after OGTT and E2 was present in TS.

Conclusions

Our results indicate that adult patients with TS under HRT are connoted by higher frequency of central obesity, insulin resistance, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension.

Free access

Fabio Lanfranco, Jörg Gromoll, Sigrid von Eckardstein, Eva M Herding, Eberhard Nieschlag and Manuela Simoni

Objective: To determine the frequency of mutations of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor (GnRHR) and of the G protein-coupled receptor 54 (GPR54) genes in normosmic idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (IHH).

Methods: In a retrospective study we analyzed the GnRHR and the GPR54 genes of 45 IHH patients and 50 controls. Genomic DNA was amplified by PCR to obtain partially overlapping amplicons encompassing the exon–intron boundaries of the GnRHR and GPR54 genes and analyzed by single-stranded conformation polymorphism gel electrophoresis and/or DNA sequencing.

Results: One heterozygous R262Q mutation of the GnRHR gene was identified in one patient with familial IHH. The silent single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) 453C > T occurred at the same frequency in patients and controls. One patient with sporadic IHH and consanguineous parents showed a novel homozygous sequence variation of the GPR54 gene (1001_1002insC) resulting in an open reading frame shift and elongation of 43 amino acids with an increased number of proline residues in the intracellular receptor domain. This patient had delayed puberty, low testosterone (3.4 nmol/l), and low-normal LH and FSH levels responsive to GnRH. Pulsatile GnRH administration normalized testosterone levels and induced spermatogenesis sufficiently to induce a pregnancy with assisted reproduction. Two common SNPs in exon 1 and exon 5 of the GPR54 gene showed similar frequency distribution and hormonal profiles in IHH and controls.

Conclusions: Mutations of the GnRHR and of the GPR54 gene are rare in IHH and should be investigated especially in cases with autosomal recessive transmission. Common SNPs of the GnRHR and GPR54 genes do not play any role in IHH.

Free access

Marco A Minetto, Fabio Lanfranco, Alberto Botter, Giovanna Motta, Giulio Mengozzi, Roberta Giordano, Andreea Picu, Ezio Ghigo and Emanuela Arvat

Objective

Glucocorticoids are known to decrease protein synthesis and conduction velocity of muscle fibers. However, the degree of impairment of muscle protein synthesis and conduction slowing in patients with Cushing's disease remains poorly characterized. Our objective was to investigate whether and to what extent chronic endogenous hypercortisolism could decrease the circulating levels of muscle proteins and modify myoelectric indexes of sarcolemmal excitability and fatigability.

Design

A total of ten patients with Cushing's disease and 30 healthy controls matched for age, sex, and body mass index were compared.

Methods

Blood sampling and electrophysiological tests on vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and tibialis anterior muscles were performed.

Results

Serum creatine kinase (CK) and plasma myoglobin were significantly lower in patients with respect to controls (P<0.001 and P<0.05 respectively): the mean relative difference between patients and controls was 48.9% for CK and 21.4% for myoglobin. Muscle fiber conduction velocity (MFCV) and myoelectric manifestations of fatigue were significantly decreased in all muscles of the patients with respect to controls. The mean relative difference in MFCV between patients and controls was 26.0% for vastus lateralis, 22.9% for vastus medialis, and 11.6% for tibialis anterior. These differences contrasted with the paucity of signs suggestive of myopathy that were obtained by needle electromyography in the patients.

Conclusions

Slowing of muscle fiber conduction and decreased levels of circulating muscle proteins are sensitive markers of impaired muscle function, which are suitable for use in combination with clinical assessment and standard electrodiagnostic tests for accurate identification and follow-up of myopathic patients.

Free access

Fabio Lanfranco, Laura Gianotti, Andreea Picu, Roberta Giordano, Giovanni Abbate Daga, Valeria Mondelli, Giuseppe Malfi, Secondo Fassino, Ezio Ghigo and Emanuela Arvat

Objective: Free fatty acids (FFAs) exert a stimulatory effect on the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis in animals and inhibit spontaneous ACTH and cortisol secretion in humans. Patients with anorexia nervosa display concomitant HPA axis hyperactivity and increased lipolysis. We studied the effects of a lipid load on ACTH and cortisol secretion in patients with anorexia nervosa in comparison with normal subjects.

Design: Eight women with anorexia nervosa (ANW; means ± s.e.m.: 23.9 ± 2.3 years of age; body mass index (BMI): 14.9 ± 0.6 kg/m2) and seven normal women (NW; 25.6 ± 2.3 years of age; BMI: 22.8 ± 1.9 kg/m2) had FFA, ACTH, cortisol, glucose and insulin levels measured in the morning every 30 min for 180 min during i.v. saline or lipid-heparin emulsion (LHE) infusion.

Results: During saline infusion, ACTH and cortisol levels decreased spontaneously in both groups, ACTH and cortisol levels in ANW being higher than in NW. LHE infusion led to increased FFA levels in both groups (P < 0.005). The ACTH and cortisol decrease in NW was more marked than during saline infusion (P < 0.05). LHE infusion in ANW was associated with a more pronounced decrease in ACTH levels than during saline infusion (P < 0.05), while cortisol levels were unchanged. At the end of the LHE infusion, a progressive decrease in FFA levels was associated with an increase in ACTH and cortisol concentrations in NW (P < 0.05) but not in ANW in whom FFA levels decreased to a lesser extent (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: This study showed that corticotroph sensitivity to the inhibitory effect of an FFA load is preserved in patients with anorexia nervosa, in spite of persistent adrenal hyperactivity.