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J. Salvador, J.J. Barbería, J. Martí, L. Forga, J. Saavedra, and E. Moncada

Abstract. The effects of cyproterone acetate (CA) administration on the pituitary-adrenal axis were studied in 30 hirsute females. The patients were treated continuously with a daily dose of 100 mg of CA for a maximal period of 12 months. Insulin-induced hypoglycaemia and ACTH infusion were performed on pre-treatment conditions and after 1, 4, 6 and 12 months of CA treatment. From a clinical point of view, a dramatic improvement of hirsutism was evident after 6 months of therapy. The most commonly reported side effects were amenorrhoea and transient uterine haemorrhage. Apart from asthenia, no symptoms of adrenal insufficiency were noticed. No changes in pituitary-adrenal secretion were observed during the first 4 months of therapy. From the 6th month, a reduction in basal as well as stimulated cortisol levels was seen. Simultaneously, an enhanced ACTH response to hypoglycaemia was observed. Both effects became more pronounced after 1 year of treatment. There were no significant changes in ACTH basal values. Six months after discontinuation of the drug, adrenocortical reserve improved but was still slightly reduced when compared to pre-treatment range at that time. These findings suggest a time-dependent negative effect of CA on adrenal steroidogenesis which shows a reversible character 6 months after antiandrogen withdrawal. Therefore, steroid cover should be considered for intercurrent illness in patients treated for longer than 6 months with this therapeutic regime.

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Lucía Sanz-Salvador, Miguel Ángel García-Pérez, Juan J Tarín, and Antonio Cano

Changes in bone density and bone markers suggest that pregnancy is associated with deterioration of bone mass in the mother. The metabolism of calcium resets to allow for the needs imposed by the building of the fetal skeleton. The fetus contributes to the process through the output of regulators from the placenta. Understanding of the whole process is limited, but some changes are unambiguous. There is an increase in the circulating levels of vitamin D, but its functional impact is unclear. Fetal parathyroid hormone (PTH) and PTH-related peptide (PTHrp) play an indirect role through support of a calcium gradient that creates hypercalcemia in the fetus. Placental GH, which increases up to the end of pregnancy, may exert some anabolic effects, either directly or through the regulation of the IGF1 production. Other key regulators of bone metabolism, such as estrogens or prolactin, are elevated during pregnancy, but their role is uncertain. An increase in the ratio of receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL) to osteoprotegerin (OPG) acts as an additional pro-resorbing factor in bone. The increase in bone resorption may lead to osteoporosis and fragility fracture, which have been diagnosed, although rarely. However, the condition is transitory as long-term studies do not link the number of pregnancies with osteoporosis. Prevention is limited by the lack of identifiable risk factors. When fractures are diagnosed, rest, analgesics, or, when indicated, orthopedic intervention have demonstrated efficacy. Systemic treatment with anti-osteoporotic drugs is effective, but the potential harm to the fetus imposes caution in their use.

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R Pasquali, F Casanueva, M Haluzik, L van Hulsteijn, S Ledoux, M P Monteiro, J Salvador, F Santini, H Toplak, and O M Dekkers

Obesity is an emerging condition, with a prevalence of ~20%. Although the simple measurement of BMI is likely a simplistic approach to obesity, BMI is easily calculated, and there are currently no data showing that more sophisticated methods are more useful to guide the endocrine work-up in obesity. An increased BMI leads to a number of hormonal changes. Additionally, concomitant hormonal diseases can be present in obesity and have to be properly diagnosed – which in turn might be more difficult due to alterations caused by body fatness itself. The present European Society of Endocrinology Clinical Guideline on the Endocrine Work-up in Obesity acknowledges the increased prevalence of many endocrine conditions in obesity. It is recommended to test all patients with obesity for thyroid function, given the high prevalence of hypothyroidism in obesity. For hypercortisolism, male hypogonadism and female gonadal dysfunction, hormonal testing is only recommended if case of clinical suspicion of an underlying endocrine disorder. The guideline underlines that weight loss in obesity should be emphasized as key to restoration of hormonal imbalances and that treatment and that the effect of treating endocrine disorders on weight loss is only modest.

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L T van Hulsteijn, R Pasquali, F Casanueva, M Haluzik, S Ledoux, M P Monteiro, J Salvador, F Santini, H Toplak, and O M Dekkers

Objective

The increasing prevalence of obesity is expected to promote the demand for endocrine testing. To facilitate evidence guided testing, we aimed to assess the prevalence of endocrine disorders in patients with obesity. The review was carried out as part of the Endocrine Work-up for the Obesity Guideline of the European Society of Endocrinology.

Design

Systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature.

Methods

A search was performed in MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science and COCHRANE Library for original articles assessing the prevalence of hypothyroidism, hypercortisolism, hypogonadism (males) or hyperandrogenism (females) in patients with obesity. Data were pooled in a random-effects logistic regression model and reported with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).

Results

Sixty-eight studies were included, concerning a total of 19.996 patients with obesity. The pooled prevalence of overt (newly diagnosed or already treated) and subclinical hypothyroidism was 14.0% (95% CI: 9.7–18.9) and 14.6% (95% CI: 9.2–20.9), respectively. Pooled prevalence of hypercortisolism was 0.9% (95% CI: 0.3–1.6). Pooled prevalence of hypogonadism when measuring total testosterone or free testosterone was 42.8% (95% CI: 37.6–48.0) and 32.7% (95% CI: 23.1–43.0), respectively. Heterogeneity was high for all analyses.

Conclusions

The prevalence of endocrine disorders in patients with obesity is considerable, although the underlying mechanisms are complex. Given the cross-sectional design of the studies included, no formal distinction between endocrine causes and consequences of obesity could be made.

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Elena Valassi, Antoine Tabarin, Thierry Brue, Richard A Feelders, Martin Reincke, Romana Netea-Maier, Miklós Tóth, Sabina Zacharieva, Susan M Webb, Stylianos Tsagarakis, Philippe Chanson, Marija Pfeiffer, Michael Droste, Irina Komerdus, Darko Kastelan, Dominique Maiter, Olivier Chabre, Holger Franz, Alicia Santos, Christian J Strasburger, Peter J Trainer, John Newell-Price, Oskar Ragnarsson, and the ERCUSYN Study Group

Objective

Patients with Cushing’s syndrome (CS) have increased mortality. The aim of this study was to evaluate the causes and time of death in a large cohort of patients with CS and to establish factors associated with increased mortality.

Methods

In this cohort study, we analyzed 1564 patients included in the European Registry on CS (ERCUSYN); 1045 (67%) had pituitary-dependent CS, 385 (25%) adrenal-dependent CS, 89 (5%) had an ectopic source and 45 (3%) other causes. The median (IQR) overall follow-up time in ERCUSYN was 2.7 (1.2–5.5) years.

Results

Forty-nine patients had died at the time of the analysis; 23 (47%) with pituitary-dependent CS, 6 (12%) with adrenal-dependent CS, 18 (37%) with ectopic CS and two (4%) with CS due to other causes. Of 42 patients whose cause of death was known, 15 (36%) died due to progression of the underlying disease, 13 (31%) due to infections, 7 (17%) due to cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease and 2 due to pulmonary embolism. The commonest cause of death in patients with pituitary-dependent CS and adrenal-dependent CS were infectious diseases (n = 8) and progression of the underlying tumor (n = 10) in patients with ectopic CS. Patients who had died were older and more often males, and had more frequently muscle weakness, diabetes mellitus and ectopic CS, compared to survivors. Of 49 deceased patients, 22 (45%) died within 90 days from start of treatment and 5 (10%) before any treatment was given. The commonest cause of deaths in these 27 patients were infections (n = 10; 37%). In a regression analysis, age, ectopic CS and active disease were independently associated with overall death before and within 90 days from the start of treatment.

Conclusion

Mortality rate was highest in patients with ectopic CS. Infectious diseases were the commonest cause of death soon after diagnosis, emphasizing the need for careful clinical vigilance at that time, especially in patients presenting with concomitant diabetes mellitus.

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Elena Valassi, Holger Franz, Thierry Brue, Richard A Feelders, Romana Netea-Maier, Stylianos Tsagarakis, Susan M Webb, Maria Yaneva, Martin Reincke, Michael Droste, Irina Komerdus, Dominique Maiter, Darko Kastelan, Philippe Chanson, Marija Pfeifer, Christian J Strasburger, Miklós Tóth, Olivier Chabre, Michal Krsek, Carmen Fajardo, Marek Bolanowski, Alicia Santos, Peter J Trainer, John A H Wass, Antoine Tabarin, and for the ERCUSYN Study Group

Background

Surgery is the definitive treatment of Cushing’s syndrome (CS) but medications may also be used as a first-line therapy. Whether preoperative medical treatment (PMT) affects postoperative outcome remains controversial.

Objective

(1) Evaluate how frequently PMT is given to CS patients across Europe; (2) examine differences in preoperative characteristics of patients who receive PMT and those who undergo primary surgery and (3) determine if PMT influences postoperative outcome in pituitary-dependent CS (PIT-CS).

Patients and methods

1143 CS patients entered into the ERCUSYN database from 57 centers in 26 countries. Sixty-nine percent had PIT-CS, 25% adrenal-dependent CS (ADR-CS), 5% CS from an ectopic source (ECT-CS) and 1% were classified as having CS from other causes (OTH-CS).

Results

Twenty per cent of patients took PMT. ECT-CS and PIT-CS were more likely to receive PMT compared to ADR-CS (P < 0.001). Most commonly used drugs were ketoconazole (62%), metyrapone (16%) and a combination of both (12%). Median (interquartile range) duration of PMT was 109 (98) days. PIT-CS patients treated with PMT had more severe clinical features at diagnosis and poorer quality of life compared to those undergoing primary surgery (SX) (P < 0.05). Within 7 days of surgery, PIT-CS patients treated with PMT were more likely to have normal cortisol (P < 0.01) and a lower remission rate (P < 0.01). Within 6 months of surgery, no differences in morbidity or remission rates were observed between SX and PMT groups.

Conclusions

PMT may confound the interpretation of immediate postoperative outcome. Follow-up is recommended to definitely evaluate surgical results.