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Tina Kienitz, Marcus Quinkler, Christian J Strasburger, and Manfred Ventz

Objective: TSH-secreting pituitary tumors (TSH-omas) are a rare cause of hyperthyroidism and account for <1% of all pituitary adenomas. Failure to recognize the presence of a TSH-oma may result in dramatic consequences such as thyroid ablation that may cause further growth in pituitary tumor. The primary goal of the treatment of TSH-omas is to remove the pituitary tumor. Medical treatment includes dopaminergic agonists or somatostatin analogs.

Methods and results: We report five cases of TSH-oma diagnosed between 1997 and 2006 and review the literature. All the patients are females with an age range from 54 to 65 years at diagnosis. Four of the five patients had at least one event of thyroid surgery due to goiter or nodule of unknown dignity. Three of the five patients had a stroke before the diagnosis of TSH-oma, probably due to hypertension, or smoking and contraceptive treatment. One patient with invasive tumor growth received stereotactic radiotherapy (and developed panhypopituitarism after operation), another patient received somatostatin analogs preoperatively and successfully underwent transsphenoidal operation. Three of the five patients received dopaminergic agonists (bromocriptine 5 mg daily or cabergoline 0.5–0.75 mg per week), because they refused surgical therapy or the tumor was stable under dopaminergic therapy. All patients have been followed-up for 2.5–8 years. A normalization of circulating thyroid hormone levels was achieved in all patients. The patient who underwent operation shows no recurrence of the disease. The other patients have a stable pituitary mass without signs of growth.

Conclusion: We report the successful long-term treatment of TSH-omas with different therapies.

Restricted access

Jürgen Kratzsch, Werner F Blum, Manfred Ventz, Thomas Selisko, Gerd Birkenmeyer, and Eberhard Keller

Kratzsch J. Blum WF, Ventz M, Selisko T, Birkenmeyer G, Keller E. Growth hormone-binding proteinrelated immunoreactivity in the serum of patients with acromegaly is regulated inversely by growth hormone concentration. Eur J Endocrinol 1994;132:306–12. ISSN 0804–4643

In this report we describe a newly developed radioimmunoassay (RIA) for the determination of the high-affinity growth hormone-binding protein (GHBP) in human blood. Using this RIA for the measurement of GHBP in serum of 29 patients with acromegaly, decreased concentrations were found compared to the normal range, depending on the activity of the disease. Growth hormonebinding protein was correlated inversely to log GH (r = −0.7, p < 0.001). A weaker relationship was shown between the GHBP activity determined in a functional assay based on charcoal separation and log GH (r = −0.51, p< 0.01). While insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) were correlated directly to log GH (r = 0.77 and r = 0.66, p < 0.001), an inverse and weaker relationship was evident between GHBP measured by RIA and IGF-I or IGFBP-3 (r = −0.61 and r = −0.57,p < 0.01). In contrast, no correlation could be detected between data of the functional GHBP assay and IGF-I or IGFBP-3, These results suggest, that: (1) in patients with acromegaly the GH receptor density in tissue reflected by the GHBP serum levels seems to be down-regulated, depending on the increased GH level; (2) low GHBP concentrations indicate an active disease in acromegaly and may be of diagnostic interest; (3) presuming that the GH receptor density is related to GH sensitivity, the variation of GH sensitivity is less important for IGF-I and IGFBP-3 production than the circulating GH concentration, at least in the situation of acromegaly; (4) because endogenous GH does not interfere in that assay, the RIA provides a valuable tool for the investigation of regulations between GH, GHBP and the GH receptor, especially in patients with acromegaly. The GHBP levels may be used as a sensitive parameter of GH oversecretion and tissue sensitivity to this hormone.

Jürgen Kratzsch, Inst. Clin. Chem., University of Leipzig, Paul-List-Str. 13–15, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Free access

Marcus Quinkler, Roy Miodini Nilsen, Kathrin Zopf, Manfred Ventz, and Marianne Øksnes

Objective

Patients with adrenal insufficiency (AI) have impaired health-related quality of life (HRQoL), which is thought to be in part due to unphysiological glucocorticoid replacement therapy. The aim was to compare once-daily hydrocortisone (HC) dual-release tablet (modified-release) with conventional HC therapy regarding clinical data and HRQoL.

Design and methods

We conducted an open, prospective trial at one endocrine center. There were 15 of 26 patients with primary AI, nine of 18 patients with secondary AI, and six congenital adrenal hyperplasia patients switched to modified-release HC therapy by their own decision. We evaluated clinical outcome and disease-specific HRQoL by using AddiQoL questionnaire at baseline and at follow-up (median 202 days (85–498)).

Results

Patients on modified-release HC (n=30) showed significant decreases in BMI (26.0±0.75–25.6±0.71, P for change=0.006) and HbA1c (6.04±0.29–5.86±0.28, P for change=0.005), whereas patients remaining on conventional HC (n=20) showed no change in these parameters (P for interaction=0.029 and 0.017 respectively). No significant change in AddiQoL score were found in the modified-release HC group (83.8 baseline and 84.9 at follow-up; P for change=0.629). In the conventional HC group, there was a significant decrease in scores (84.0 baseline and 80.9 at follow-up; P for change=0.016), with a between-treatment P for interaction of 0.066. The fatigue subscore of AddiQoL showed the same pattern with a significant decrease (P for change=0.024) in patients on conventional HC therapy (P for interaction=0.116).

Conclusions

Modified-release HC decreases BMI and HbA1c compared with conventional HC treatment. In addition, it seems to stabilize HRQoL over time.

Free access

Julia Schulz, Kathrin R Frey, Mark S Cooper, Kathrin Zopf, Manfred Ventz, Sven Diederich, and Marcus Quinkler

Objective

Individuals with primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI) or congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) receive life-long glucocorticoid (GC) replacement therapy. Current daily GC doses are still higher than the reported adrenal cortisol production rate. This GC excess could result in long-term morbidities such as osteoporosis. No prospective trials have investigated the long-term effect of GC dose changes in PAI and CAH patients.

Methods

This is a prospective and longitudinal study including 57 subjects with PAI (42 women) and 33 with CAH (21 women). Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry at baseline and after 2 years. Subjects were divided into three groups (similar baseline characteristics) depending on changes in daily hydrocortisone equivalent dose (group 1: unchanged 25.2±8.2 mg (mean±s.d., n=50); group 2: increased 18.7±10.3 to 25.9±12.0 mg (n=13); group 3: decreased 30.8±8.5 to 21.4±7.2 mg (n=27)).

Results

Subjects in group 1 showed normal lumbar and femoral Z-scores which were unchanged over time. Group 2 subjects showed a significant decrease in femoral neck Z-scores over time (−0.15±1.1 to −0.37±1.0 (P<0.05)), whereas group 3 subjects showed a significant increase in lumbar spine and hip Z-scores (L1–L4: −0.93±1.2 to –0.65±1.5 (P<0.05); total hip: −0.40±1.0 to −0.28±1.0 (P<0.05)). No changes in BMI over time were seen within any group. Reduction in GC dose did not increase the risk of adrenal crisis.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates for the first time that cautious reduction in hydrocortisone equivalent doses leads to increases in BMD, whereas dose increments reduced BMD. These data emphasize the need for the lowest possible GC replacement dose in AI patients to maintain health and avoid long-term adverse effects.

Free access

Benjamin Bleicken, Stefanie Hahner, Melanie Loeffler, Manfred Ventz, Bruno Allolio, and Marcus Quinkler

Context

Recent studies have suggested that current glucocorticoid replacement therapies fail to fully restore well-being in patients with adrenal insufficiency (AI).

Objective

To investigate the effect of different glucocorticoid preparations used for replacement therapy on subjective health status (SHS) in AI.

Design and patients

In a cross-sectional study, primary and secondary AI patients were contacted by mail. Individual glucocorticoid replacement regimens, underlying diagnoses and comorbidities were verified by questionnaires and review of medical records. Patients were asked to complete three validated self-assessment questionnaires (Short Form 36 (SF-36), Giessen Complaint List (GBB-24), and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). Results were compared with sex- and age-matched controls drawn from the questionnaire-specific reference cohort.

Results

Of the 883 patients identified, 526 agreed to participate in the study. Completed questionnaire sets were available from 427 patients (primary AI n=232; secondary AI n=195). AI patients showed significantly impaired SHS compared with controls irrespective of the glucocorticoid used for replacement. The only difference in SHS between patients on prednisolone (PR) and hydrocortisone (all patients and sub-analysis for primary AI) was significant higher bodily pain (lower Z-score in SF-36) in patients on PR (P<0.05, P<0.01 respectively). In patients with secondary AI, the PR group showed significantly (P<0.05) less heart complaints (lower Z-score) in the GBB questionnaire compared with the cortisone acetate group.

Conclusions

Glucocorticoid replacement therapy with PR seems to be equivalent to hydrocortisone regarding SHS in patients with AI. However, SHS remains impaired in all patient groups suggesting a need for further improved glucocorticoid replacement strategies.

Free access

Stefanie Hahner, Melanie Loeffler, Benjamin Bleicken, Christiane Drechsler, Danijela Milovanovic, Martin Fassnacht, Manfred Ventz, Marcus Quinkler, and Bruno Allolio

Objective

Adrenal crisis (AC) is a life-threatening complication of adrenal insufficiency (AI). Here, we evaluated frequency, causes and risk factors of AC in patients with chronic AI.

Methods

In a cross-sectional study, 883 patients with AI were contacted by mail. Five-hundred and twenty-six patients agreed to participate and received a disease-specific questionnaire.

Results

Four-hundred and forty-four datasets were available for analysis (primary AI (PAI), n=254; secondary AI (SAI), n=190). Forty-two percent (PAI 47% and SAI 35%) reported at least one crisis. Three hundred and eighty-four AC in 6092 patient years were documented (frequency of 6.3 crises/100 patient years). Precipitating causes were mainly gastrointestinal infection and fever (45%) but also other stressful events (e.g. major pain, surgery, psychic distress, heat and pregnancy). Sudden onset of apparently unexplained AC was also reported (PAI 6.6% and SAI 12.7%). Patients with PAI reported more frequent emergency glucocorticoid administration (42.5 vs 28.4%, P=0.003). Crisis incidence was not influenced by educational status, body mass index, glucocorticoid dose, DHEA treatment, age at diagnosis, hypogonadism, hypothyroidism or GH deficiency. In PAI, patients with concomitant non-endocrine disease were at higher risk of crisis (odds ratio (OR)=2.02, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05–3.89, P=0.036). In SAI, female sex (OR=2.18, 95% CI 1.06–4.5, P=0.035) and diabetes insipidus (OR=2.71, 95% CI 1.22–5.99, P=0.014) were associated with higher crisis incidence.

Conclusion

AC occurs in a substantial proportion of patients with chronic AI, mainly triggered by infectious disease. Only a limited number of risk factors suitable for targeting prevention of AC were identified. These findings indicate the need for new concepts of crisis prevention in patients with AI.

Free access

Robert Kopetschke, Mario Slisko, Aylin Kilisli, Ulrich Tuschy, Henri Wallaschofski, Martin Fassnacht, Manfred Ventz, Felix Beuschlein, Martin Reincke, Nicole Reisch, and Marcus Quinkler

Context

Adrenal and extra-adrenal phaeochromocytoma are chromaffin cell-derived tumours that are discovered due to classical symptom triad with headache, sweating and palpitations combined with persistent or paroxysmal hypertension. However, an increasing proportion of phaeochromocytoma seems to be discovered incidentally upon abdominal imaging.

Objective

To specify the exact circumstances of discovery of adrenal and extra-adrenal phaeochromocytoma.

Design and patients

Four German endocrine centres participated in this retrospective study. Medical records of 201 patients with adrenal and extra-adrenal phaeochromocytoma who were diagnosed between 1973 and 2007 were analyzed.

Results

The typical triad of symptoms was found only in 10% of cases. Ten percent of patients presented were without clinical symptoms and 6.1% were normotensive. Documented blood pressure peaks occurred in 44.1% of cases. In 24 patients (12.2%), phaeochromocytoma was malignant. Before 1985, <10% of cases were incidentally discovered, whereas thereafter the frequency was >25% (29.4% of the total study population). Patients with incidentally detected phaeochromocytoma were significantly older (53.1±1.9 vs 47.0±1.3 years; P<0.05) and often had less blood pressure peaks (37.0 vs 70.7%; P<0.001) than patients in whom the diagnosis was suspected on clinical grounds. Of phaeochromocytomas 94.4% were intra-adrenal tumours, of which 12.9% were bilateral. Bilateral tumours were significantly smaller than unilateral tumours (36.6±14.7 vs 52.5±34.3 mm; P<0.05), whereas extra-adrenal tumours had a mean diameter of 52.6±28.7 mm.

Conclusions

Owing to better availability and accessibility of imaging procedures, the number of incidentally discovered phaeochromocytoma is increasing and reaches nearly 30% in our study population. Every adrenal incidentaloma should be investigated for the presence of phaeochromocytoma.