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Federica Guaraldi, Guglielmo Beccuti, Davide Gori and Lucia Ghizzoni

GnRH analogues (GnRHa) are the treatment of choice for central precocious puberty (CPP), with the main objective to recover the height potential compromised by the premature fusion of growth cartilages. The aim of this review was to analyze long-term effects of GnRHa on height, body weight, reproductive function, and bone mineral density (BMD) in patients with CPP, as well as the potential predictors of outcome. Because randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness and long-term outcomes of treatment are not available, only qualified conclusions about the efficacy of interventions can be drawn. GnRHa treatment appears to improve adult height in girls with CPP, especially if diagnosed before the age of 6, whereas a real benefit in terms of adult height is still controversial in patients with the onset of puberty between 6 and 8 years of age. No height benefit was shown in patients treated after 8 years. Gonadal function is promptly restored in girls after cessation of treatment, and reproductive potential appears normal in young adulthood. Data are conflicting on the long-term risk of polycystic ovarian syndrome in both treated and untreated women. Fat mass is increased at the start of treatment but normalizes thereafter, and GnRHa itself does not seem to have any long-term effect on BMI. Similarly, analogue treatment does not appear to have a negative impact on BMD. Owing to the paucity of data available, no conclusions can be drawn on the repercussions of CPP and/or its treatment on the timing of menopause and on the health of the offspring.

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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.

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Lucia Ghizzoni, Adima Lamborghini, Mariangela Ziveri, Cecilia Volta, Costantino Panza, Paolo Balestrazzi and Sergio Bernasconi

Abstract.

To determine whether the quantitative and qualitative aspects of GH secretion in girls with Turner's syndrome are similar to those of short-normal children we studied the 24-h GH secretion of 10 patients with Turner's syndrome and 9 short-normal children with comparable auxological features. GH profiles, obtained by 30-min sampling, were analysed by the Pulsar programme. The pulsatile GH release over the 24 h in Turner's syndrome was similar to that in normal children. However, when the GH release over the 12 day and night hours were separately analysed, only normal children showed a night-time increase in the sum of peak amplitudes. Moreover, patients with Turner's syndrome had significantly decreased number and frequency of peaks in the night-time compared with short children. In shortnormal children but not in Turner's syndrome, height velocity was related to the 24-h integrated concentration of GH, area under the curve over zero-line and over baseline, sum of peak areas, and amplitudes. Night-time GH area over zero-line and over baseline, mean peak amplitude, height, area, sum of peak areas, and amplitudes were positively correlated with height velocity in short children, whereas in Turner's syndrome height velocity was related to daytime parameters only. In conclusion, girls with Turner's syndrome have a discrete pattern of pulsatile GH release. However, the relation of GH secretion to growth, in these patients, is uncertain.

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Cecilia Volta, Sergio Bernasconi, Lorenzo lughetti, Lucia Ghizzoni, Maurizio Rossi, Mauro Costa and Antonella Cozzini

Volta C. Bernasconi S, lughetti L, Ghizzoni L, Rossi M, Costa M, Cozzini A. Growth hormone response to growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), insulin, clonidine and arginine after GHRH pretreatment in obese children: evidence of somatostatin increase? Eur J Endocrinol 1995; 132:716–21. ISSN 0804–4643

To clarify the possible neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying the impairment in growth hormone (GH) secretion present in obesity, the GH response to GH-releasing hormone (GHRH, N = 6), insulin hypoglycemia (N = 6), clonidine (N = 7) and arginine (N = 8) after GHRH pretreatment (1 μg/kg iv 2 h before the tests) was evaluated in 27 obese peripubertal children and in a group of normal-weight short-normal children (N = 26). Growth hormone-releasing hormone pretreatment and all further stimuli elicited a statistically significant GH response in both obese and short-normal children; in the latter group arginine did not induce a significant GH response. No differences were found among the GH responses after the second stimuli in obese children, while in short-normal children the arginine peak and area values were lower than after GHRH and clonidine. Comparison between the two groups showed similar baseline but higher stimulated GH levels in normal-weight children after all tests except ariginine, after which no difference was present. In conclusion, the neuroregulation of GH release seems to be similar qualitatively in normal-weight and obese youngsters; the different behavior observed after arginine, which is supposed to act through somatostatin inhibition, might be due to a chronic increase in somatostatinergic tone responsible for the lower stimulated GH levels in obesity.

Sergio Bernasconi, Clinica Pediatrica, Via Gransci 14, 43100 Parma, Italy

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Sergio Bernasconi, Cecilia Volta, Antonella Cozzini, Mariangela Ziveri, Lucia Ghizzoni, Costantino Panza and Ezio Ghigo

To determine whether differences in the neuroendocrine control of GH are present between children and adult subjects, the GH response to GHRH (1 μg/kg) (group 1), insulin-induced hypoglycemia (0.1 U/kg iv) (group 2), clonidine (150 μg/m2 po) (group 3) and iv arginine (0.5 g/kg in 30 min) (group 4) after GHRH pretreatment (1 μg/kg) was studied in 26 short-stature normal children (mean age 10.2 years). The results were compared with historical data in adults. No differences were present among mean peak GH levels after the first and second stimuli in groups 1, 2 and 3, while in group 4 the GH response to arginine administration was lower than that obtained after the initial GHRH (0.43±0.04 vs 0.9±0.13 nmol/l). Moreover, comparing the GH peak values following the second stimulus, it appears that the greatest GH responses were elicited by GHRH (1.31±0.23 nmol/l) and clonidine (1.11±0.22 nmol/l), while the lowest was elicited by arginine (0.43±0.04 nmol/l). In adults, sequential GHRH administration leads to inhibition of the response of the somatotropes, probably mediated by an increase in hypothalamic somatostatin. Our results confirm that after GHRH prestimulation GHRH elicits a significant GH response suggesting that activation of the somatostatinergic tone is less effective in children. This hypothesis also explains the low GH response to arginine which acts selectively through somatostatin inhibition.

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Raffaele Virdis, Maria Zampolli, Maria E Street, Maurizio Vanelli, Neus Potau, Cesare Terzi, Lucia Ghizzoni and Lourdes Ibanez

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the pituitary-ovarian function in adolescent girls with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM).

Design: Clinical case-control study.

Methods: The GnRH analog leuprolide acetate was administered subcutaneously to 16 adolescents with IDDM (seven eumenorrheic and nine oligomenorrheic) and 13 controls between 0800 and 0900 h. Blood samples were collected at baseline and 0·5, 3, 6 and 24 h after leuprolide to measure levels of gonadotropins, 17α-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP), androgens and estradiol.

Results: Mean baseline serum LH levels were significantly higher in eumenorrheic compared with oligomenorrheic IDDM patients, while peak LH responses to GnRH analog testing were similar in all subjects. Oligomenorrheic IDDM girls showed, as a group, a distinct 17-OHP response to GnRH analog stimulation, which in five out of nine girls was in the range of functional ovarian hyperandrogenism (≥ 8·6 nmol/l). Androgen and estradiol levels were not significantly altered in any group. No correlation was found between steroid levels and HbA1c levels, although the latter were significantly higher in oligomenorrheic than in eumenorrheic patients.

Conclusion: About 50% of the oligomenorrheic IDDM adolescents had an increased ovarian 17-OHP response to GnRH analog stimulation in the range of functional ovarian hyperandrogenism. Factors other than metabolic control, such as stress, may play an etiologic role in IDDM ovarian dysfunction.

European Journal of Endocrinology 136 624–629

Free access

Maria Apellaniz-Ruiz, Leanne de Kock, Nelly Sabbaghian, Federica Guaraldi, Lucia Ghizzoni, Guglielmo Beccuti and William D Foulkes

Objective

Familial multinodular goiter (MNG), with or without ovarian Sertoli-Leydig cell tumor (SLCT), has been linked to DICER1 syndrome. We aimed to search for the presence of a germline DICER1 mutation in a large family with a remarkable history of MNG and SLCT, and to further explore the relevance of the identified mutation.

Design and methods

Sanger sequencing, Fluidigm Access Array and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) techniques were used to screen for DICER1 mutations in germline DNA from 16 family members. Where available, tumor DNA was also studied. mRNA and protein extracted from carriers’ lymphocytes were used to characterize the expression of the mutant DICER1.

Results

Nine of 16 tested individuals carried a germline, in-frame DICER1 deletion (c.4207-41_5364+1034del), which resulted in the loss of exons 23 and 24 from the cDNA. The mutant transcript does not undergo nonsense-mediated decay and the protein is devoid of specific metal ion-binding amino acids (p.E1705 and p.D1709) in the RNase IIIb domain. In addition, characteristic somatic ‘second hit’ mutations in this region were found on the other allele in tumors.

Conclusions

Patients with DICER1 syndrome usually present a combination of a typically truncating germline DICER1 mutation and a tumor-specific hotspot missense mutation within the sequence encoding the RNase IIIb domain. The in-frame deletion found in this family suggests that the germline absence of p.E1705 and p.D1709, which are crucial for RNase IIIb activity, may be enough to permit DICER1 syndrome to occur.

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Mohamad Maghnie, Gianluca Aimaretti, Simonetta Bellone, Gianni Bona, Jaele Bellone, Roberto Baldelli, Carlo de Sanctis, Luigi Gargantini, Roberto Gastaldi, Lucia Ghizzoni, Andrea Secco, Carmine Tinelli and Ezio Ghigo

Objective: A consensus exists that severe growth hormone deficiency (GHD) in adults is defined by a peak GH response to insulin-induced hypoglycemia (insulin tolerance test, ITT) of less than 3 μg/l based on a cohort of subjects with a mean age of 45 years.

Design and methods: By considering one of the following two criteria for the diagnosis of probable permanent GHD, i.e. the severity of GHD (suggested by the presence of multiple pituitary hormone deficiencies (MPHD)) or the magnetic resonance (MR) imaging identification of structural hypothalamic–pituitary abnormalities, 26 patients (17 males, 9 females, mean age 20.8±2.3 years, range 17–25 years) were selected for re-evaluation of the GH response to ITT and their IGF-I concentration. Eight subjects had isolated GHD (IGHD) and 18 had MPHD. Normative data for peak GH were obtained after ITT in 39 healthy subjects (mean age 21.2±4.4 years, range 15.1–30.0 years) and the reference range for IGF-I was calculated using normative data from 117 healthy individuals.

Results: Mean peak GH response to ITT was significantly lower in the 26 patients (1.8±2.0 μg/l, range 0.1–6.1 μg/l) compared with the 39 controls (18.5±15.5 μg/l, range 6.1–84.0 μg/l; P < 0.0001). One subject with septo-optic dysplasia had a peak GH response of 6.1 μg/l that overlapped the lowest peak GH response obtained in normal subjects. There was an overlap for IGF-I SDS between subjects with IGHD and MPHD, as well as with normal controls. The diagnostic accuracy of a peak GH response of 6.1 μg/l showed a 96% sensitivity with 100% specificity. The maximum diagnostic accuracy with IGF-I SDS was obtained with a cut-off of −1.7 SDS (sensitivity 77%, specificity 100%) while an IGF-I ≤ − 2.0 SDS showed a sensitivity of 62%.

Conclusion: Our data show that the cut-off value of the peak GH response to ITT of less than 3 μg/l or 5 μg/l and of IGF-I of less than −2.0 SDS are too restrictive for the diagnosis of permanent GH deficiency in the transition period. We suggest that permanent GHD could be investigated more accurately by means of an integrated analysis of clinical history, the presence of MPHD, IGF-I concentration and the MR imaging findings of structural hypothalamic–pituitary abnormalities.

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Ginevra Corneli, Carolina Di Somma, Flavia Prodam, Jaele Bellone, Simonetta Bellone, Valentina Gasco, Roberto Baldelli, Silvia Rovere, Harald Jörn Schneider, Luigi Gargantini, Roberto Gastaldi, Lucia Ghizzoni, Domenico Valle, Mariacarolina Salerno, Annamaria Colao, Gianni Bona, Ezio Ghigo, Mohamad Maghnie and Gianluca Aimaretti

Objective

To define the appropriate diagnostic cut-off limits for the GH response to GHRH+arginine (ARG) test and IGF-I levels, using receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve analysis, in late adolescents and young adults.

Design and methods

We studied 152 patients with childhood-onset organic hypothalamic–pituitary disease (85 males, age (mean±s.e.m.): 19.2±0.2 years) and 201 normal adolescents as controls (96 males, age: 20.7±0.2 years). Patients were divided into three subgroups on the basis of the number of the other pituitary hormone deficits, excluding GH deficiency (GHD): subgroup A consisted of 35 panhypopituitary patients (17 males, age: 21.2±0.4 years), subgroup B consisted of 18 patients with only one or with no more than two pituitary hormone deficits (7 males, age: 20.2±0.9 years); and subgroup C consisted of 99 patients without any known hormonal pituitary deficits (60 males, age: 18.2±0.2 years). Both patients and controls were lean (body mass index, BMI<25 kg/m2). Patients in subgroup A were assumed to be GHD, whereas in patients belonging to subgroups B and C the presence of GHD had to be verified.

Results

For the GHRH+ARG test, the best pair of highest sensitivity (Se; 100%) and specificity (Sp; 97%) was found choosing a peak GH of 19.0 μg/l. For IGF-I levels, the best pair of highest Se (96.6%) and Sp (74.6%) was found using a cut-off point of 160 μg/l (SDS: −1.3). Assuming 19.0 μg/l to be the cut-off point established for GHRH+ARG test, 72.2% of patients in subgroup B and 39.4% in subgroup C were defined as GHD. In patients belonging to group B and C and with a peak GH response <19 μg/l to the test, IGF-I levels were lower than 160 μg/l (or less than 1.3 SDS) in 68.7 and 41.6% of patients respectively predicting severe GHD in 85.7% of panhypopituitary patients (subgroup A).

Conclusions

In late adolescent and early adulthood patients, a GH cut-off limit using the GHRH+ARG test lower than 19.0 μg/l is able to discriminate patients with a suspicion of GHD and does not vary from infancy to early adulthood.

Free access

Lucia Ghizzoni, Marco Cappa, Alessandra Vottero, Graziamaria Ubertini, Daniela Carta, Natascia Di Iorgi, Valentina Gasco, Maddalena Marchesi, Vera Raggi, Anastasia Ibba, Flavia Napoli, Arianna Massimi, Mohamad Maghnie, Sandro Loche and Ottavia Porzio

Objective

Premature pubarche (PP) is the most frequent sign of nonclassic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (NCCAH) due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency in childhood. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between the CYP21A2 genotype and baseline and ACTH-stimulated 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) and cortisol serum levels in patients presenting with PP.

Patients and methods

A total of 152 Italian children with PP were studied. Baseline and ACTH-stimulated 17-OHP and cortisol serum levels were measured and CYP21A2 gene was genotyped in all subjects.

Results

Baseline and ACTH-stimulated serum 17-OHP levels were significantly higher in NCCAH patients than in both heterozygotes and children with idiopathic PP (IPP). Of the patient population, four NCCAH patients (7.3%) exhibited baseline 17-OHP values <2 ng/ml (6 nmol/l). An ACTH-stimulated 17-OHP cutoff level of 14 ng/ml (42 nmol/l) identified by the receiver-operating characteristics curves showed the best sensitivity (90.9%) and specificity (100%) in distinguishing NCCAH patients. This value, while correctly identifying all unaffected children, missed 9% of affected individuals. Cortisol response to ACTH stimulation was <18.2 μg/dl (500 nmol/l) in 14 NCCAH patients (28%) and none of the heterozygotes or IPP children. Among the 55 NCCAH patients, 54.5% were homozygous for mild CYP21A2 mutations, 41.8% were compound heterozygotes for one mild and one severe CYP21A2 gene mutations, and 3.6% had two severe CYP21A2 gene mutations.

Conclusion

In children with PP, baseline 17-OHP levels are not useful to rule out the diagnosis of NCCAH, which is accomplished by means of ACTH testing only. The different percentages of severe and mild CYP21A2 gene mutations found in PP children compared with adult NCCAH patients is an indirect evidence that the enzyme defect is under-diagnosed in childhood, and it might not lead to the development of hyperandrogenic symptoms in adulthood. Stress-dose glucocorticoids should be considered in patients with suboptimal cortisol response to ACTH stimulation.