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Alessandra Gambineri, Flaminia Fanelli, Federica Tomassoni, Alessandra Munarini, Uberto Pagotto, Ruth Andrew, Brian R Walker, and Renato Pasquali

Context

Abnormal cortisol metabolism in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has been invoked as a cause of secondary activation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and hence androgen excess. However, this is based on urinary excretion of cortisol metabolites, which cannot detect tissue-specific changes in metabolism and may be confounded by obesity.

Objective

To assess cortisol clearance and whole-body and tissue-specific activities of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1 (HSD11B1)) in PCOS.

Design

Case–control study.

Setting

Medical center.

Patients

A total of 20 overweight–obese unmedicated Caucasian women with PCOS, aged 18–45 years, and 20 Caucasian controls matched for age, BMI, body fat distribution, and HSD11B1 genotypes (rs846910 and rs12086634).

Main outcome measures

Cortisol metabolites were measured in 24 h urine. During steady-state 9,11,12,12-[2H]4-cortisol infusion, cortisol clearance was calculated and whole-body HSD11B1 activity was assessed as the rate of appearance of 9,12,12-2H3-cortisol (d3-cortisol). Hepatic HSD11B1 activity was quantified as the generation of plasma cortisol following an oral dose of cortisone. Subcutaneous adipose HSD11B1 activity and HSD11B1 mRNA were measured, ex vivo, in biopsies.

Results

Urinary cortisol metabolite excretion, deuterated cortisol clearance, and the rate of appearance of d3-cortisol did not differ between patients with PCOS and controls. However, hepatic HSD11B1 conversion of oral cortisone to cortisol was impaired (P<0.05), whereas subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue HSD11B1 mRNA levels and activity were increased (P<0.05) in women with PCOS when compared with controls.

Conclusions

Tissue-specific dysregulation of HSD11B1 is a feature of PCOS, over and above obesity, whereas increased clearance of cortisol may result from obesity rather than PCOS.

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Marco Mezzullo, Alessandra Gambineri, Guido Di Dalmazi, Alessia Fazzini, Matteo Magagnoli, Margherita Baccini, Valentina Vicennati, Carla Pelusi, Uberto Pagotto, and Flaminia Fanelli

Objective. To investigate the impact of age, obesity and metabolic parameters on thirteen circulating steroids in reproductive and menopausal age. To define reference intervals (RI).

Design. Cross-sectional.

Methods. 325 drug-free, healthy and eumenorrheic women were selected from the general population. Independent relationships of LC-MS/MS-determined steroid levels with age, body mass index (BMI) and metabolic parameters were estimated. Reference sub-cohorts were defined for calculating upper and lower limits in reproductive age, menstrual phases and menopause, and these were compared with limits in dysmetabolic sub-cohorts.

Results. Lower androgens, pro-androgens and estrogens, but higher cortisol and metabolites were found in menopausal compared to reproductive age women. Androgens and precursors decreased during reproductive age (P<0.001–P=0.002) but not after menopause. 17OH-progesterone decreased with BMI (P=0.006) and glucocorticoids with waist circumference (P<0.001–P=0.002) in reproductive age, but increased with triglycerides (P=0.011-P=0.038) after menopause. Inverse associations of dihydrotestosterone with BMI (P=0.004) and HDL-cholesterol (P=0.010), estrone with total cholesterol (P=0.033) and estradiol with triglycerides (P=0.011) were found in reproductive age. After menopause, estrone increased with waist circumference (P<0.001) and decreased with insulin resistance (P=0.012). Ovarian steroid RI were estimated in menstrual phases and menopause. Age- and reproductive status-specific RI were generated for androgens, precursors and corticosteroids. Lower limits for reproductive age cortisol (P=0.020) and menopausal 11-deoxycortisol (P=0.003) in dysmetabolic sub-cohorts were reduced and increased, respectively, compared to reference limits.

Conclusions: Obesity and dysmetabolism differently influence circulating steroids in reproductive and menopausal status. Age, menstrual and menopausal status-specific RI were provided by LC-MS/MS for a broad steroid panel.

Free access

Alessandra Gambineri, Valentina Vicennati, Guido Di Dalmazi, Carla Pelusi, Paola Altieri, Flaminia Fanelli, Andrea Repaci, Silvia Garelli, Danilo Ribichini, and Uberto Pagotto

Restricted access

Marco Mezzullo, Guido Di Dalmazi, Alessia Fazzini, Margherita Baccini, Andrea Repaci, Alessandra Gambineri, Valentina Vicennati, Carla Pelusi, Uberto Pagotto, and Flaminia Fanelli

Objective

To evaluate the independent impact of age, obesity and metabolic risk factors on 13 circulating steroid levels; to generate reference intervals for adult men.

Design

Cross-sectional study.

Methods

Three hundred and fifteen adults, drug-free and apparently healthy men underwent clinical and biochemical evaluation. Thirteen steroids were measured by LC-MS/MS and compared among men with increasing BMI. Moreover, the independent impact of age, BMI and metabolic parameters on steroid levels was estimated. Upper and lower reference limits were generated in steroid-specific reference sub-cohorts and compared with dysmetabolic sub-cohorts.

Results

We observed lower steroid precursors and testosterone and increase in estrone levels in men with higher BMI ranges. By multivariate analysis, 17-hydroxyprogesterone and dihydrotestosterone decreased with BMI, while cortisol decreased with waist circumference. Estrone increased with BMI and systolic blood pressure. Testosterone decreased with worsening insulin resistance. 17-hydroxypregnenolone and corticosterone decreased with increasing total/HDL-cholesterol ratio. Age-related reference intervals were estimated for 17-hydroxypregnenolone, DHEA, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, corticosterone, 11-deoxycortisol, cortisol and androstenedione, while age-independent reference intervals were estimated for progesterone, 11-deoxycorticosterone, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, estrone and estradiol. Testosterone lower limit was 2.29 nmol/L lower (P = 0.007) in insulin resistant vs insulin sensitive men. Furthermore, the upper limits for dihydrotestosterone (−0.34 nmol/L, P = 0.045), cortisol (−87 nmol/L, P = 0.045–0.002) and corticosterone (−10.1 nmol/L, P = 0.048–0.016) were lower in overweight/obese, in abdominal obese and in dyslipidaemic subjects compared to reference sub-cohorts, respectively.

Conclusions

Obesity and mild unmedicated metabolic risk factors alter the circulating steroid profile and bias the estimation of reference limits for testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, cortisol and corticosterone. Applying age-dependent reference intervals is mandatory for steroid precursors and corticosteroids.

Free access

Marco Mezzullo, Guido Di Dalmazi, Alessia Fazzini, Margherita Baccini, Andrea Repaci, Alessandra Gambineri, Valentina Vicennati, Carla Pelusi, Uberto Pagotto, and Flaminia Fanelli

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Srdjan Pandurevic, Luca Bergamaschi, Carmine Pizzi, Laura Patton, Paola Rucci, Francesca Corzani, Carolina Cecchetti, Carla Pelusi, Paola Altieri, Valentina Vicennati, Guido Di Dalmazi, Flaminia Fanelli, Djuro Macut, Uberto Pagotto, and Alessandra Gambineri

Objective

Research into cardiovascular disease (CV) prevention has demonstrated a variety of ultrasound (US) markers predicting risk in the general population but which have been scarcely used for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Obesity is a major factor contributing to CV disease in the general population, and it is highly prevalent in PCOS. However, it is still unclear how much risk is attributable to hyperandrogenism. This study evaluates the most promising US CV risk markers in PCOS and compares them between different PCOS phenotypes and BMI values.

Design

Women fulfilling the Rotterdam criteria for PCOS were recruited from our outpatient clinic for this cross-sectional study.

Methods

Participants (n = 102) aged 38.9 ± 7.4 years were stratified into the four PCOS phenotypes and the three BMI classes (normal-weight, overweight, obese). They were assessed for clinical and biochemical parameters together with the following US markers: coronary intima-media thickness (cIMT), flow-mediated vascular dilation (FMD), nitroglycerine-induced dilation (NTG), and epicardial fat thickness (EFT).

Results

There was no statistical difference among the four phenotypes in terms of cIMT, FMD, NTG or EFT, however all the US parameters except NTG showed significant differences among the three BMI classes. Adjusting for confounding factors in multiple regression analyses, EFT retained the greatest direct correlation with BMI and cIMT remained directly correlated but to a lesser degree.

Conclusions

This study showed that obesity rather than the hyperandrogenic phenotype negatively impacts precocious US CV risk markers in PCOS. In addition, EFT showed the strongest association with BMI, highlighting its potential for estimating CV risk in PCOS.

Restricted access

Sara De Vincentis, Maria Chiara Decaroli, Flaminia Fanelli, Chiara Diazzi, Marco Mezzullo, Fabio Morini, Davide Bertani, Jovana Milic, Federica Carli, Gianluca Cuomo, Daniele Santi, Giulia Tartaro, Simonetta Tagliavini, Maria Cristina De Santis, Laura Roli, Tommaso Trenti, Uberto Pagotto, Giovanni Guaraldi, and Vincenzo Rochira

Objective

Hypogonadism is common in HIV-infected men. The relationship between health status, sex steroids and body composition is poorly known in HIV. The aim was to investigate the association between health status (comorbidities/frailty), body composition, and gonadal function in young-to-middle-aged HIV-infected men.

Design

Prospective, cross-sectional, observational study.

Methods

HIV-infected men aged <50 years and ongoing Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy were enrolled. Serum total testosterone (TT), estradiol (E2), estrone (E1) were measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, LH and FSH by immunoassay. Free testosterone (cFT) was calculated by Vermeulen equation. Body composition was assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and abdominal CT scan. Multimorbidity (MM) and frailty were defined as ≥3 comorbidities and by a 37-item index, respectively.

Results

A total of 316 HIV-infected men aged 45.3 ± 5.3 years were enrolled. Body fat parameters were inversely related to cFT and TT, and directly related to E1 and E2/testosterone (TS) ratio. Patients with MM had lower cFT (P < 0.0001) and TT (P = 0.036), and higher E1 (P < 0.0001) and E2/TS ratio (P = 0.002). Frailty was inversely related to cFT (R2 = 0.057, P < 0.0001) and TT (R2 = 0.013, P = 0.043), and directly related to E1 (R2 = 0.171, P < 0.0001), E2 (R2 = 0.041, P = 0.004) and E2/TS ratio (R2 = 0.104, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions

Lower TT and cFT, higher E1, E2/TS ratio and visceral fat were independently associated to poor health status and frailty, being possible hallmarks of unhealthy conditions in adult HIV-infected men. Overall, MM, frailty and body fat mass are strictly associated to each other and to sex steroids, concurring together to functional male hypogonadism in HIV.