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Christof Schöfl, Holger Franz, Martin Grussendorf, Jürgen Honegger, Cornelia Jaursch-Hancke, Bernhard Mayr, Jochen Schopohl and the participants of the German Acromegaly Register

Background

Acromegaly is a rare disease with significant morbidity and increased mortality. Epidemiological data about therapeutic outcome under ‘real life’ conditions are scarce.

Objective

To describe biochemical long-term outcome of acromegaly patients in Germany.

Design and methods

Retrospective data analysis from 1344 patients followed in 42 centers of the German Acromegaly Register. Patients' data were collected 8.6 (range 0–52.6) years after diagnosis. Controlled disease was defined by an IGF1 within the center-specific reference range.

Results

Nine hundred and seventeen patients showed a normalized IGF1 (157 (range 25–443) ng/ml). In patients with a diagnosis dated back >2 years (n=1013), IGF1 was normalized in 76.9%. Of the patients, 19.5% had an elevated IGF1 and a random GH ≥1 ng/ml, 89% of the patients had at least one surgical intervention, 22% underwent radiotherapy, and 43% received medical treatment. After surgery 38.8% of the patients were controlled without any further therapy. The control rates were higher in surgical centers with a higher caseload (P=0.034). Of the patients with adjunctive radiotherapy 34.8% had a normal IGF1 8.86 (0–44.9) years post irradiation, 65.2% of the medically treated patients were controlled, and 47.2% of the patients with an elevated IGF1 received no medical therapy.

Conclusion

The majority of acromegaly patients were controlled according to their IGF1 status. Long-term outcome could be improved by exploiting medical treatment options especially in patients who are not controlled by surgery and/or radiotherapy.

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Christof Schöfl, Martin Grussendorf, Jürgen Honegger, Anke Tönjes, Daniel Thyroke-Gronostay, Bernhard Mayr, Jochen Schopohl and the participants of the German Acromegaly Register

Context

Disease control is a prime target in acromegaly treatment. This should be achievable in the vast majority of patients by available treatment options. For unknown reasons, however, a significant number of patients do not achieve disease control.

Objective

To investigate reasons for failure to achieve disease control in long-standing acromegaly.

Design and methods

Survey based on the German Acromegaly Registry database (1755 patients in 57 centres). Questionnaires were sent to 47 centres treating 178 patients with elevated disease markers (IGF1 and GH) at the last documented database visit out of 1528 patients with a diagnosis dated back ≥2 years. Thirty-three centres returned anonymised information for 120 patients (recall rate 67.4%).

Results

Median age of the 120 patients (58 females) was 57 years (range 17–84). Ninety-four patients had at least one operation, 29 had received radiotherapy and 71 had been previously treated medically. Comorbidities were reported in 67 patients. In 61 patients, disease activity had been controlled since the last documented database visit, while 59 patients still had biochemically active disease. Reasons were patients' denial to escalate therapy (23.3%), non-compliance (20.6%), fluctuating insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and growth hormone (GH) levels with normal values at previous visits (23.3%) and modifications in pharmacotherapy (15.1%). Therapy resistance (9.6%), drug side effects (4.1%) and economic considerations (4.1%) were rare reasons.

Conclusions

Main reasons for long-standing active acromegaly were patients' lack of motivation to agree to therapeutic recommendations and non-compliance with medical therapy. Development of patient education programmes could improve long-term control and thus prognosis of acromegalic patients.

Free access

Katrin Ritzel, Felix Beuschlein, Christina Berr, Andrea Osswald, Nicole Reisch, Martin Bidlingmaier, Harald Schneider, Jürgen Honegger, Lucas L. Geyer, Jochen Schopohl and Martin Reincke

Objective

The aim of the present study was to validate criteria of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) stimulation and 8 mg dexamethasone suppression (high-dose dexamethasone suppression, HDDS) to distinguish the etiology of ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome.

Subjects and methods

We retrospectively analyzed cortisol and ACTH after the injection of 100 μg human CRH in confirmed Cushing's disease (CD, n=78) and confirmed ectopic Cushing's syndrome (ECS, n=18). Cortisol and ACTH increase (in percentage above basal (%B)) at each time point, maximal increase (Δmax %B), and area under the curve (AUC %B) were analyzed using receiver operator characteristics (ROC) curve analyses. Cortisol suppression (%B) after 8 mg of dexamethasone was evaluated as a supplementary criterion.

Results

An increase in ACTH of ≥43%B at 15 min after CRH was the strongest predictor of CD, with a positive likelihood ratio of 14.0, a sensitivity of 83%, a specificity of 94%, a positive predictive value of 98% and a negative predictive value of 58%. All of the other criteria of stimulated ACTH and cortisol levels were not superior in predicting CD in response to CRH injection. The addition of cortisol suppression by dexamethasone did not increase the discriminatory power. However, the combination of a positive ACTH response at 15 min and a positive HDDS test excluded ECS in all cases.

Conclusion

The present findings support the use of plasma ACTH levels 15 min after the injection of human CRH as a response criterion for distinguishing between CD and ECS. The addition of the HDDS test is helpful for excluding ECS when both tests are positive.

Free access

Cristina L Ronchi, Erika Peverelli, Sabine Herterich, Isabel Weigand, Giovanna Mantovani, Thomas Schwarzmayr, Silviu Sbiera, Bruno Allolio, Jürgen Honegger, Silke Appenzeller, Andrea G Lania, Martin Reincke, Davide Calebiro, Anna Spada, Michael Buchfelder, Joerg Flitsch, Tim M Strom and Martin Fassnacht

Context

Alterations in the cAMP signaling pathway are common in hormonally active endocrine tumors. Somatic mutations at GNAS are causative in 30–40% of GH-secreting adenomas. Recently, mutations affecting the USP8 and PRKACA gene have been reported in ACTH-secreting pituitary adenomas and cortisol-secreting adrenocortical adenomas respectively. However, the pathogenesis of many GH-secreting adenomas remains unclear.

Aim

Comprehensive genetic characterization of sporadic GH-secreting adenomas and identification of new driver mutations.

Design

Screening for somatic mutations was performed in 67 GH-secreting adenomas by targeted sequencing for GNAS, PRKACA, and USP8 mutations (n=31) and next-generation exome sequencing (n=36).

Results

By targeted sequencing, known activating mutations in GNAS were detected in five cases (16.1%), while no somatic mutations were observed in both PRKACA and USP8. Whole-exome sequencing identified 132 protein-altering somatic mutations in 31/36 tumors with a median of three mutations per sample (range: 1–13). The only recurrent mutations have been observed in GNAS (31.4% of cases). However, seven genes involved in cAMP signaling pathway were affected in 14 of 36 samples and eight samples harbored variants in genes involved in the calcium signaling or metabolism. At the enrichment analysis, several altered genes resulted to be associated with developmental processes. No significant correlation between genetic alterations and the clinical data was observed.

Conclusion

This study provides a comprehensive analysis of somatic mutations in a large series of GH-secreting adenomas. No novel recurrent genetic alterations have been observed, but the data suggest that beside cAMP pathway, calcium signaling might be involved in the pathogenesis of these tumors.

Free access

Ilonka Kreitschmann-Andermahr, Tsambika Psaras, Maria Tsiogka, Daniel Starz, Bernadette Kleist, Sonja Siegel, Monika Milian, Johannes Kohlmann, Christa Menzel, Dagmar Führer-Sakel, Jürgen Honegger, Ulrich Sure, Oliver Müller and Michael Buchfelder

Free access

Ilonka Kreitschmann-Andermahr, Tsambika Psaras, Maria Tsiogka, Daniel Starz, Bernadette Kleist, Sonja Siegel, Monika Milian, Johannes Kohlmann, Christa Menzel, Dagmar Führer-Sakel, Jürgen Honegger, Ulrich Sure, Oliver Müller and Michael Buchfelder

Objective

To obtain structured information on the diagnostic delay in patients with Cushing's disease (CD) from the patients perspective to provide leverage points for earlier diagnosis.

Design

The study includes 176 patients with ACTH-dependent CD who had received pituitary surgery completed a self-developed questionnaire on their symptomatology before the illness was diagnosed, the course and length of the diagnostic process, and the role of the involved health care professionals.

Methods

Data were analyzed statistically. Answers in free text options were categorized and counted.

Results

The overall diagnostic process took 3.8±4.8 years (median 2 years), during which 4.6±3.8 (1–30) physicians were consulted, most frequently the family physician (FP; 83.0%). The presented symptoms were various and often vague, e.g. ‘poor general condition’ (at FPs), or very common in the field of the visited specialist (i.e. ‘skin changes’ at dermatologists). Women recognized the first CD symptoms themselves significantly more frequently than men, whereas physicians recognized CD symptoms significantly more frequently in males.

Conclusion

A clear difficulty of diagnosing CD seems that patients describe isolated symptoms to the FP or the respective specialists according to their fields of specialization. As FPs are contacted most frequently, they should be trained to recognize the broad spectrum of CD symptoms, especially in female patients with weight gain, and initiate endocrinological referral.

Free access

Luis G Pérez-Rivas, Marily Theodoropoulou, Troy H Puar, Julia Fazel, Mareike R Stieg, Francesco Ferraù, Guillaume Assié, Monica R Gadelha, Timo Deutschbein, Maria C Fragoso, Benno Kusters, Wolfgang Saeger, Jürgen Honegger, Michael Buchfelder, Márta Korbonits, Jérôme Bertherat, Günter K Stalla, Ad R Hermus, Felix Beuschlein and Martin Reincke

Objective

Somatic mutations in the ubiquitin-specific protease 8 (USP8) gene are frequent in corticotroph tumors causing Cushing’s disease (CD). Corticotroph tumor progression, the so-called Nelson’s syndrome (NS), is a potentially life-threatening complication of bilateral adrenalectomy in patients with refractory CD that is caused by the development of an ACTH-secreting tumor of the pituitary gland. Whether USP8 alterations are also present in progressive Nelson’s tumors has not been studied in detail so far.

Design and Methods

Retrospective, multicenter study involving tumors from 33 patients with progressive corticotroph tumors (29 females) and screening for somatic mutations on the mutational hotspot of the USP8 gene in the exon 14 with Sanger sequencing.

Results

Fifteen out of 33 tumors (45%) presented with a mutation in the exon 14 of USP8, with c.2159C>A (p.Pro720Gln) being the most frequent (9/33), followed by c.2155_2157delTCC (p.Ser718del, 4/33) and c.2152T>C (p.Ser718Pro, 2/33). This prevalence is similar to that previously reported for CD. Mutations were found exclusively in females. Other variables, such as age at diagnosis with NS, body mass index, hyperpigmentation, visual field defects, adenoma size or mortality, did not significantly differ between patients with wild-type and mutant tumors. Patients with USP8 mutant tumors exhibited higher levels of plasma ACTH after surgery (median: 640 vs 112 pg/mL, P = 0.03). No differences were observed in ACTH normalization (<50 pg/mL) and tumor control after surgery for Nelson’s tumor.

Conclusion

Somatic mutations in USP8 are common in Nelson’s tumors, indicating that they do not drive the corticotroph tumor progression that leads to NS, and may be associated with a less favorable biochemical outcome after surgery for Nelson’s tumor.