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F. Roelfsema, A.J. Moolenaar and M. Frölich

Abstract. The urinary excretion of the androgen metabolites aetiocholanolone (E) and androsterone (A) as well as DHEA, 11-hydroxy-androsterone and the cortisol metabolites 11-oxo-aetiocholanolone and 11-hydroxy-aetiocholanolone in normoprolactinaemic and hyperprolactinaemic male and female acromegalics was studied and compared with that of appropriate control groups. In addition several plasma hormones were also measured. The growth hormone level in the patient group varied from 10–550 mU/l. The excretion of both 11-hydroxy-androsterone and DHEA was normal. The excretion of androsterone had decreased, while aetiocholanolone and cortisol metabolite excretion had increased. The ratio between aetiocholanolone and androsterone (E/A) excretion was significantly increased in all patient groups, but no correlation was found between the growth hormone level and the E/A ratio. Treatment with bromocriptine caused a decrease in the E/A ratio in patients with decreased growth hormone levels, but not in patients in whom the growth hormone level remained unchanged. After selective transsphenoidal removal of the pituitary adenoma the E/A ratio decreased significantly. The increased E/A ratio in untreated patients could not be attributed to eventual changes in plasma levels of cortisol, thyroxine, prolactin, testosterone or oestrogens. We therefore suggest that growth hormone is involved in androgen metabolism in acomegaly.

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YJ Janssen, M Frolich, P Deurenberg and F Roelfsema

OBJECTIVE: Recent studies suggest an involvement of the obese (OB) gene and its product leptin in the regulation of body fat. Since adults with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) have a high body fat mass which can be normalized with recombinant human (rh) GH therapy, we investigated whether GH influences serum leptin directly or indirectly via its lipolytic effect. DESIGN: Fourteen adults with GHD were treated with subcutaneous injections of rhGH given every evening for 52 weeks. Serum leptin, fat mass and body fat percentage were measured at baseline and after 4 and 52 weeks of treatment. METHODS: Serum leptin was measured with a commercially available RIA. Total body water was determined by dilution of deuterium. Fat free mass was estimated by assuming a hydration of 73%. Fat mass was estimated by subtracting fat free mass from weight. RESULTS: At baseline, serum leptin levels were exponentially related to body fat percentage (r = 0.88; P < 0.0005). rhGH treatment for 4 weeks did not significantly influence serum leptin levels, whereas treatment for 52 weeks significantly decreased serum leptin levels (15.6 +/- 2.9 to 10.8 +/- 2.1 micrograms/l; P = 0.020). Fat percentage was significantly decreased after 52 weeks of treatment (37.6 +/- 2.1 to 33.8 +/- 2.5%; P < 0.0005). The decrease in serum leptin could largely be explained by the decrease in body fat percentage, whereas the relation between leptin and body fat percentage did not change. CONCLUSIONS: The influence of GH on serum leptin in indirect, via its effect on body fat percentage.

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RG Veldman, M Frolich, SM Pincus, JD Veldhuis and F Roelfsema

The episodicity of 24 h leptin release was studied in seven women (mean age 39 years, range 22-56 years) with pituitary-dependent hypercortisolism and in seven age- and body mass index (BMI)-matched female controls. Pulsatile leptin release was quantified by model-free cluster analysis and deconvolution, the orderliness of leptin patterns by the approximate entropy statistic (ApEn), and nyctohemeral leptin rhythmicity by cosinor analysis. Blood samples were taken at 10 min intervals for 24 h. Both cluster and deconvolution analysis revealed 2.4-fold increased leptin secretion in patients, caused by combined and equal amplification of basal and pulsatile secretion. Cluster analysis identified 7.1+/-1.5 peaks per 24 h in patients and 6.0+/-0.5 in controls (not significant). The statistical distribution of the individual sample secretory rates was similarly skewed in patients and controls (0.55+/-0.12 vs 0.52+/-0.07). The acrophase (timing of the nyctohemeral leptin peak) in patients occurred at 2314 h (+/-76 min) and at 0058 h (+/-18 min) in controls (not significant). The approximate entropy of leptin release was equivalent in patients and controls (1.67+/-0.03 vs 1.61+/-0.05). The approximate entropy (ApEn) for cortisol in patients was 1.53+/-0.09 and in controls was 0.93+/-0.07 (P<0.0005). Cross-ApEn showed significant pattern synchrony between leptin and cortisol release, which (unexpectedly) was not disrupted by the cortisol excess (patients, 2.02+/-0.04; controls, 1.88+/-0.09; P=0.233). Insulin levels in fasting patients ('fasting insulin') were 27+/-5.7 mU/l vs 14+/-1.6 mU/l in controls (P=0.035). Leptin secretion correlated with fasting insulin levels (R(2)=0.34, P=0.028) and with the cortisol production rate (R(2)=0.33, P=0.033) when patients and controls were combined. In summary, Cushing's disease in women increases leptin production about twofold in an amplitude-specific way. The pulse-generating, nyctohemeral phase-determining, and entropy-control mechanisms that govern the 24 h leptin release are not altered. The increased secretion is not explained by BMI and is probably only partly explained by increased insulin production, suggesting a cortisol-dependent change in adipose leptin secretion.

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R Groote Veldman, G van den Berg, SM Pincus, M Frolich, JD Veldhuis and F Roelfsema

To quantify prolactin (PRL) secretion patterns, ten untreated (female) microprolactinoma patients and six (male) macroprolactinoma patients underwent repetitive blood sampling every 10 min over 24 h. PRL release activity was analyzed from plasma PRL concentration (immunofluorimetric assay) profiles via a model-independent discrete peak detection program (Cluster) and a waveform-independent deconvolution technique (Pulse). Diurnal variations were analyzed by cosinor analysis. The number of distinct PRL pulses (mean +/- S.E.M.) was increased in patients: microprolactinoma 18.6 +/- 0.6/24 h versus female controls 12.4 +/- 0.6 (P = 6.7 x 10-s), and macroprolactinoma 18.0 +/- 0.9 versus male controls 13.5 +/- 0.8/24 h (P = 0.003). In patients, PRL pulse height, amplitude, pulse area and interpeak nadir concentrations were each greatly elevated compared with gender-matched controls. By 2-component deconvolution analysis, the mean nadir PRL secretion rate in microprolactinoma patients was augmented 20-fold at 0.408 +/- 0.089 microgram/l per min versus in female controls 0.019 +/- 0.009 microgram/l per min (P < 0.001); and in macroprolactinoma by 130-fold at 2.067 +/- 0.693 micrograms/l per min versus male controls 0.016 +/- 0.001 microgram/l per min (P = 0.001). Corresponding 24 h mean PRL secretion rates were in women, 0.658 +/- 0.147 and 0.044 +/- 0.018 (P < 0.001), and in men, 3.309 +/- 1.156 and 0.035 +/- 0.010 micrograms/l per min (P = 0.001), being respectively 15- and 94-fold increased in tumors. The estimated PRL production per day was 160 +/- 15 and 187 +/- 20 micrograms in male and female controls respectively. PRL production was 2860 +/- 640 micrograms in female patients with microadenomas (P < 0.001), and 37,800 +/- 5900 micrograms in male macroadenoma patients (P = 0.001). Cosinor analysis of the plasma concentrations revealed a significant rhythm in nine of ten, patients with a microadenoma, and in five of six with a macroadenoma. The same method applied to pulse height and amplitude disclosed a significant rhythm for PRL pulse height, but not for pulse amplitude, suggesting preserved rhythmicity of baseline interpulse nadir PRL concentrations. Approximate entropy (ApEn), a scale- and model-independent regularity statistic, averaged 1.6559 +/- 0.028 in microprolactinoma patients versus 0.8128 +/- 0.079 in female controls (P = 1.7 x 10(-8)); ApEn in macroadenomas was 1.5674 +/- 0.054 versus male controls 0.8773 +/- 0.076 (P = 1.7 x 10(-5), signifying greater secretory irregularity in the patients. Compared with microadenomas, macroadenomas exhibited a higher mean plasma concentration, overall mean PRL secretion rate, nadir secretion rate and pulse area, but similar peak frequency. We conclude that PRL secretion by prolactinomas is characterized by increased plasma PRL episodicity of release, increased total (15- to 100-fold) and basal (20- to 130-fold) secretion rates, and increased disorderlines of minute-to-minute secretion. These abnormalities of secretory control are very similar to those for GH and ACTH identified earlier in acromegaly and Cushing's disease respectively, thus suggesting mechanistic generality of pituitary tumor secretory derangements, independent of the particular hormone.

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Gerrit van den Berg, Steven M Pincus, Johannes D Veldhuis, Marijke Frölich and Ferdinand Roelfsema


We investigated the episodicity of 24-h ACTH and cortisol secretory profiles in 16 patients with Cushing's disease and 25 healthy matched controls, with a recently introduced scale- and modelindependent regularity statistic, approximate entropy (ApEn). The mean (± s.e.m.) ApEn value for plasma ACTH concentrations in Cushing's disease was 1·3817 ± 0·033, and in controls 0·8394 ± 0·049 (P< 10−10); for plasma cortisol concentrations the values were 1·4575 ± 0·052 and 0·8637 ± 0·020 respectively (P<10−10), implying greater irregularity of release for both hormones in Cushing's subjects. The calculated sensitivity and specificity of ApEn for ACTH profiles were 94% and 100% respectively. For cortisol the sensitivity and specificity were both 100%. ApEn was not correlated with sex, age, or the total 24-h secretion rate of ACTH and cortisol in patients and controls. The increased ApEn in patients with Cushing's disease points to an increased disorderliness of ACTH and cortisol secretion compared with healthy controls. In conjunction with the available literature, we hypothesize more generally that autonomous endocrine tumors may be typified by reduced regularity, orderliness, or synchrony of the time structure of hormone release.

European Journal of Endocrinology 136 394–400

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G van den Berg, SM Pincus, M Frolich, JD Veldhuis and F Roelfsema

The episodicity of 24 h GH release was studied in 18 patients with active acromegaly, 12 patients 7-10 days after pituitary surgery, 14 patients long after operation (3-17 years), and 21 healthy gender- and age-matched control subjects, using a recently introduced scale- and model-independent regularity statistic, approximate entropy (ApEn). Blood samples were taken at 10-min intervals for 24 h, and plasma GH concentrations were measured by immunofluorometric assay (detection limit 11.5 ng/l). For this study we selected operated patients who were biochemically in remission, defined by normal circulating IGF-I and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) concentrations, normal glucose-suppressed plasma GH concentration (<0.38 microg/l), and the normalization of the paradoxical rise of GH to TRH or GnRH. In patients with active acromegaly ApEn was 1.23+/-0.04, with no overlap with the control subjects (P = 1.2 x 10[-16]), who had an ApEn of 0.40+/-0.04. ApEn in patients shortly after surgery was 0.71+/-0.09 (P < 0.001 vs controls), and long after surgery 0.56+/-0.05 (P < 0.011 vs controls). ApEn values in treated and untreated patients correlated significantly with the plasma concentration of IGF-I (r=0.531) and IGFBP-3 (r=0.598), and the log-transformed 24h GH secretion rate (r=0.749). Shortly after surgery only one-third of the patients had a normal ApEn value, whereas long after surgery about 70% of the patients had a normal ApEn value. Although ApEn eventually normalized in about 70% of the operated patients, the cause of the persistence of abnormal GH release in the remainder of the subjects is not known, and might reflect permanent hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction or a very early recurrence of the somatotroph adenoma.

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Ferdinand Roelfsema, Alberto M Pereira, Nienke R Biermasz, Marijke Frolich, Daniel M Keenan, Johannes D Veldhuis and Johannes A Romijn


The hypothalamus–pituitary–thyroid axis in Cushing's syndrome may be altered. Previous reports have shown diminished serum TSH concentration and decreased response to TRH.


We analyzed serum TSH profiles in relation to cortisol profiles in patients with hypercortisolism of pituitary (n=16) or primary-adrenal origin (n=11) and after remission by pituitary surgery (n=7) in order to delineate aberrations in the hypothalamus–pituitary–thyroid system.


Patients and controls (n=27) underwent a 24-h blood sampling study. Serum TSH and cortisol were measured with precise methods, and data were analyzed with a deconvolution program, approximate entropy (ApEn), and cosinor regression.


Pulsatile TSH secretion and mean TSH pulse mass were diminished during hypercortisolism, independently of etiology (P<0.001). TSH secretion was increased in patients in remission only during daytime due to increased basal secretion (P<0.01). Pulse frequency and half life of TSH were similar in patients and controls. TSH ApEn (irregularity) was increased in patients with hypercortisolism (P<0.01), but was normal in cured patients. Cross-ApEn between TSH and cortisol, a measure of pattern synchrony loss, was increased in active disease, indicating (partial) loss of secretory synchrony. The TSH rhythm was phase delayed in hypercortisolemic patients, but normal in cured patients (P<0.01). Free thyroxine levels were decreased only in pituitary-dependent hypercortisolism compared with controls (P=0.003). Total 24-h TSH correlated negatively and linearly with log-transformed cortisol secretion (R=0.43, P=0.001).


Cortisol excess decreases TSH secretion by diminishing pulsatile release, whereas surgically cured patients have elevated nonpulsatile TSH release. Diminished TSH secretory regularity in active disease suggests glucocorticoid-induced dysregulation of TRH or somatostatinergic/annexin-1 control.

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SW van Thiel, JA Romijn, NR Biermasz, BE Ballieux, M Frolich, JW Smit, EP Corssmit, F Roelfsema and AM Pereira

OBJECTIVE: Recently a new depot preparation of the long-acting somatostatin analogue, lanreotide Autogel was introduced for the treatment of acromegaly. Like octreotide long-acting repeatable (LAR), it has high binding affinity for the somatostatin receptor subtype SSTR 2 and less binding affinity for SSTR 5. We hypothesized that the ability to suppress growth hormone (GH) secretion in patients with acromegaly would be similar for these depot preparations. PATIENTS AND STUDY DESIGN: Seven patients (mean age+/-S.E.M. 48.4+/-7 years) on long-term octreotide LAR treatment at a monthly injection interval for a mean of 2.8 years were enrolled in the study. They underwent a GH secretory profile study with 10 min sampling for 24 h, 28 days after an injection. At 2, 4 and 6 weeks after the next injection fasting GH profiles (every 30 min for 3.5 h) and serum IGF-I measurements were measured. These investigations were repeated 12 months later, when the patients were on an individually titrated stable dose of lanreotide Autogel. RESULTS: Secretory characteristics and total 24 h GH secretion, estimated by deconvolution analysis of the 10 min 24 h plasma GH concentrations, did not show differences between these two long-acting somatostatin analogues. Both drugs were equally effective in GH and IGF-I suppression as measured at 2, 4 and also at 6 weeks following an injection. CONCLUSION: The efficacy of lanreotide Autogel and octreotide LAR was equal, notwithstanding that these drugs are administered in a different way and have different pharmacokinetics.

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Claire E H M Donjacour, N Ahmad Aziz, Marijke Frölich, Ferdinand Roelfsema, Sebastiaan Overeem, Gert Jan Lammers and Hanno Pijl


Hypocretin deficiency causes narcolepsy and may affect neuroendocrine systems, including TSH, ACTH and LH secretion. Symptoms can be treated effectively with sodium oxybate (SXB) in many patients. This study was performed to compare prolactin (PRL) secretion in patients and matched controls and establish the effect of SXB administration on PRL and sleep in both the groups.


Open label intervention. Blood was sampled before and after 5 days of SXB treatment. The study was performed at the Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Subjects were admitted to the clinical research centre on both occasions.

Patients or participants

Eight male hypocretin-deficient narcolepsy with cataplexy patients and eight controls matched for sex, age, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio and fat percentage were enrolled.


SXB two times 3 g per night for five consecutive nights.


Patients and controls underwent 24 h blood sampling at 10 min intervals for measurement of PRL concentrations. The PRL concentration time series was analysed with a new deconvolution programme, approximate entropy (ApEn) and Cosinor analysis. Sleep was polygraphically recorded. Basal and pulsatile PRL secretion, as well as pulse regularity and frequency, ApEn and diurnal parameters were similar in patients and controls. SXB treatment caused similar nocturnal increase in PRL secretion, advance of the acrophase and decrease in ApEn in patients and controls. Slow wave sleep was increased to a similar extent in patients and controls.


This detailed study did not demonstrate altered PRL secretion in hypocretin-deficient narcolepsy patients during the basal state or during SXB administration. Therefore, hypocretin signalling is unlikely to be a regulator of the lactotrophic system.

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A A van der Klaauw, A M Pereira, S W van Thiel, J W A Smit, E P M Corssmit, N R Biermasz, M Frolich, A Iranmanesh, J D Veldhuis, F Roelfsema and J A Romijn

Background: Radiotherapy for pituitary adenomas frequently leads to GH deficiency (GHD). The characteristics of GH secretion in GHD induced by postoperative radiotherapy for acromegaly are not known.

Hypothesis: In the long term, stimulated and spontaneous GH release is not different between patients with GHD treated by postoperative radiotherapy for acromegaly or for other pituitary adenomas.

Design/subjects: We compared the characteristics of basal and stimulated GH secretion in patients with GHD, who had previously received adjunct radiotherapy after surgery for GH-producing adenomas (n=10) vs for other pituitary adenomas (n=10). All patients had a maximal GH concentration by insulin tolerance test (ITT) of 3 μg/l or less, compatible with severe GHD. Mean time after radiation was 17 and 18.7 years, respectively. Stimulated GH release was also evaluated by infusion of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), GHRH–arginine and arginine, and spontaneous GH by 10 min blood sampling for 24 h. Pulse analyses were performed by Cluster and approximate entropy.

Outcomes: There were no differences between both patient groups in stimulated GH concentrations in any test. Spontaneous GH secretion was not different between both patient groups, including basal GH release, pulsatility and regularity. Pulsatile secretion was lost in two acromegalic and three non-acromegalic patients. Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) was below −2 s.d. score in nine patients in each group.

Conclusion: Acromegalic patients treated by surgery and postoperative radiotherapy with an impaired response to the ITT do not differ, in the long term, in GH secretory characteristics from patients treated similarly for other pituitary tumors with an impaired response to the ITT. The ITT (or the GHRH–arginine test) is therefore reliable in establishing the diagnosis of GHD in patients treated for acromegaly by surgery and radiotherapy.