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Katica Bajuk Studen, Miran Šebeštjen, Marija Pfeifer and Janez Preželj

Objective

Accumulating evidence connects polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Endothelial dysfunction is present in PCOS and represents an early, reversible marker of cardiovascular damage. As androgens and renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system are implicated in the atherogenesis process of PCOS, we tested the hypothesis that treatment with spironolactone, an androgen and mineralocorticoid receptor blocking drug, might reverse endothelial dysfunction in PCOS.

Patients

A total of 30 non-obese PCOS patients, compared with 20 body mass index matched control subjects, were evaluated. PCOS patients were given spironolactone 100 mg daily in 21-day long intervals followed by a 7-day pause, for 6 months.

Measurements

Flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), glyceryl trinitrate-induced dilatation, free testosterone, androstenedione, DHEA-sulfate, total, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, and triglycerides were determined at baseline and after 6 months.

Results

Results are expressed as median (25–75th percentile). At baseline, FMD was significantly lower in PCOS patients than in controls: 6.0 (0.0–11.7) vs 10.2 (6.8–15.9) %, P=0.018. This difference disappeared after 6 months of spironolactone treatment, as FMD in PCOS patients significantly increased to 8.3 (5.7–10.3) %, P=0.034, and was no longer different from controls. In PCOS patients, serum androgen levels did not change during treatment, while total and LDL-cholesterol decreased significantly from 4.8 (4.1–5.1) mmol/l to 4.4 (3.9–4.8) mmol/l and from 2.5 (2.1–3.1) to 2.2. (2.1–2.5) mmol/l, P<0.05 and P<0.05 respectively.

Conclusion

Treatment with spironolactone normalized endothelial function and improved cholesterol levels in non-obese PCOS patients.

Open access

Mojca Jensterle Sever, Tomaz Kocjan, Marija Pfeifer, Nika Aleksandra Kravos and Andrej Janez

Objective

The effect of metformin on weight reduction in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is often unsatisfactory. In this study, we investigated the potential add-on effect of treatment with the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist liraglutide on weight loss in obese nondiabetic women with PCOS who had lost <5% body weight during pretreatment with metformin.

Methods

A total of 40 obese women with PCOS, who had been pretreated with metformin for at least 6 months, participated in a 12-week open-label, prospective study. They were randomized to one of three treatment arms: metformin (MET) arm 1000 mg BID, liraglutide (LIRA) arm 1.2 mg QD s.c., or combined MET 1000 mg BID and LIRA (COMBI) 1.2 mg QD s.c. Lifestyle intervention was not actively promoted. The primary outcome was change in body weight.

Results

Thirty six patients (aged 31.3±7.1 years, BMI 37.1±4.6 kg/m2) completed the study: 14 on MET, 11 on LIRA, and 11 on combined treatment. COMBI therapy was superior to LIRA and MET monotherapy in reducing weight, BMI, and waist circumference. Subjects treated with COMBI lost on average 6.5±2.8 kg compared with a 3.8±3.7 kg loss in the LIRA group and a 1.2±1.4 kg loss in the MET group (P<0.001). The extent of weight loss was stratified: a total of 38% of subjects were high responders who lost ≥5% body weight, 22% of them in the COMBI arm compared with 16 and 0% in the LIRA and MET arm respectively. BMI decreased by 2.4±1.0 in the COMBI arm compared with 1.3±1.3 in LIRA and 0.5±0.5 in the MET arm (P<0.001). Waist circumference also decreased by 5.5±3.8 cm in the COMBI arm compared with 3.2±2.9 cm in LIRA and 1.6±2.9 cm in the MET arm (P=0.029). Subjects treated with liraglutide experienced more nausea than those treated with metformin, but severity of nausea decreased over time and did not correlate with weight loss.

Conclusions

Short-term combined treatment with liraglutide and metformin was associated with significant weight loss and decrease in waist circumference in obese women with PCOS who had previously been poor responders regarding weight reduction on metformin monotherapy.

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Mojca Jensterle, Andrej Janez, Barbara Mlinar, Janja Marc, Janez Prezelj and Marija Pfeifer

Objective

The insulin-resistant state of the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) was found to be associated with a decreased glucose transporter GLUT4 expression in the insulin target tissues. This study was performed to explore whether the well-known clinical, hormonal and metabolic efficacy of metformin or rosiglitazone treatment is reflected in the modulation of adipocyte GLUT4 mRNA expression in patients with PCOS.

Methods

We enrolled 35 women with PCOS. They received either metformin or rosiglitazone for 6 months. A history, blood samples for the measurement of androgens and s.c. adipose tissue samples were taken at baseline and end point. Quantification of GLUT4 mRNA expression in adipose tissue was performed using real-time quantitative PCR. Homeostasis model assessment (HOMAIR) score calculation was applied as a measure for insulin resistance (IR).

Results

GLUT4 mRNA expression in adipose tissue increased significantly in both groups (P<0.001). The increase was more pronounced in the rosiglitazone group (P=0.040). There was a statistically significant improvement of HOMAIR in both groups (P=0.008). After treatment, frequencies of menstrual bleeding were significantly higher (P<0.001) and serum total testosterone levels significantly lower in both groups (P=0.001).

Conclusions

A 6-month therapy with insulin sensitizers resulted in marked improvement in adipose tissue GLUT4 mRNA expression in PCOS patients, rosiglitazone being more effective when compared with metformin. The augmentation of the insulin signal transduction was accompanied by a significant improvement of HOMAIR, menstrual pattern and androgen profile.

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Barbara Mlinar, Marija Pfeifer, Eda Vrtačnik-Bokal, Mojca Jensterle and Janja Marc

Objective

In polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), insulin resistance (IR) appears with high prevalence and represents the major cause of cardiometabolic complications. Lipin 1β regulates lipid metabolism and augments insulin sensitivity. The impact of lipin 1β expression in visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue of PCOS patients on IR was studied for the first time.

Methods

Eighty-five PCOS patients and 44 controls were enrolled for subcutaneous tissue biopsy, of whom 25 patients and 30 controls also underwent visceral adipose tissue biopsy. Gene expression of lipin 1β was measured, together with that of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ, lipoprotein lipase, hormone-sensitive lipase, adiponectin and glucose transporter 4 in subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue. Markers of obesity, IR and PCOS were also measured.

Results

In PCOS patients, lipin 1β expression in both adipose depots was lower than in controls: 0.76 (0.67–0.84) vs 1.16 (0.90–1.43) for visceral and 0.91 (0.73–1.10) vs 1.30 (1.03–1.57) for s.c. depot (both P<10−4). The difference remained significant after adjustment for body mass index (BMI) and also when comparing only lean patients with lean controls. In PCOS patients, visceral adipose lipin 1β expression correlated negatively with homeostasis model assessment–IR (r=−0.474, P=0.017), BMI (r=−0.511, P=0.009) and waist circumference (r=−0.473, P=0.017), waist circumference remaining significant (P=0.027) in multiple regression. Subcutaneous lipin 1β expression in PCOS correlated negatively with BMI, waist circumference and plasma triglycerides, and positively with high density lipoprotein-cholesterol. Subcutaneous, but not visceral lipin 1β expression, correlated positively with the studied genes.

Conclusions

Lipin 1β appears to be involved in the pathogenesis of IR in PCOS.

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Mojca Jensterle, Miran Sebestjen, Andrej Janez, Janez Prezelj, Tomaz Kocjan, Irena Keber and Marija Pfeifer

Objective

There is evidence of preclinical cardiovascular disease even in young women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The aim of our study was to assess and compare the effects of metformin (MET) and rosiglitazone (ROSI) on endothelial function in PCOS patients.

Methods

For 6 months, 26 women with PCOS received either MET or ROSI. Blood samples for assessment of androgens, lipids, and high-sensitive C-reactive protein were taken at baseline and at endpoint. Endothelium-dependent flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and glyceryl trinitrate-induced endothelium-independent dilation of brachial artery were studied before and after treatment. Homeostasis model assessment (HOMAIR) calculation was applied as a measure of insulin resistance (IR).

Results

With treatment, FMD of brachial artery improved significantly from 4.2±6.6 to 10.2±5.9% in MET group (P=0.036) and from 2.9±3.2 to 7.6±4.9% in ROSI group (P=0.026), MET being as effective as ROSI (P=0.70). The endothelium-independent dilation did not change. Additionally, administration of MET was associated with a significant decrease in HOMAIR (P=0.003), serum total and serum-free testosterone (P=0.045 and P=0.008 respectively) and significantly higher frequencies of menstrual bleeding (P=0.006).

Conclusions

A 6-month therapy with insulin sensitizers, MET and ROSI, resulted in marked improvement of endothelial function in young PCOS patients without clinically evident atherosclerosis who were not severely insulin resistant. Neither drug was superior to the other. We conclude that therapeutic intervention with either insulin sensitizer may reverse the atherosclerotic process in PCOS patients at its early stage.

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Gerard Conway, Didier Dewailly, Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis, Héctor F Escobar-Morreale, Stephen Franks, Alessandra Gambineri, Fahrettin Kelestimur, Djuro Macut, Dragan Micic, Renato Pasquali, Marija Pfeifer, Duarte Pignatelli, Michel Pugeat and Bulent O Yildiz

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common ovarian disorder associated with androgen excess in women, which justifies the growing interest of endocrinologists. Great efforts have been made in the last 2 decades to define the syndrome. The presence of three different definitions for the diagnosis of PCOS reflects the phenotypic heterogeneity of the syndrome. Major criteria are required for the diagnosis, which in turn identifies different phenotypes according to the combination of different criteria. In addition, the relevant impact of metabolic issues, specifically insulin resistance and obesity, on the pathogenesis of PCOS, and the susceptibility to develop earlier than expected glucose intolerance states, including type 2 diabetes, has supported the notion that these aspects should be considered when defining the PCOS phenotype and planning potential therapeutic strategies in an affected subject. This paper offers a critical endocrine and European perspective on the debate on the definition of PCOS and summarises all major aspects related to aetiological factors, including early life events, potentially involved in the development of the disorder. Diagnostic tools of PCOS are also discussed, with emphasis on the laboratory evaluation of androgens and other potential biomarkers of ovarian and metabolic dysfunctions. We have also paid specific attention to the role of obesity, sleep disorders and neuropsychological aspects of PCOS and on the relevant pathogenetic aspects of cardiovascular risk factors. In addition, we have discussed how to target treatment choices based according to the phenotype and individual patient's needs. Finally, we have suggested potential areas of translational and clinical research for the future with specific emphasis on hormonal and metabolic aspects of PCOS.

Open access

Christian J Strasburger, Peter Vanuga, Juraj Payer, Marija Pfeifer, Vera Popovic, László Bajnok, Miklós Góth, Veˇra Olšovská, L‘udmila Trejbalová, Janos Vadasz, Eyal Fima, Ronit Koren, Leanne Amitzi, Martin Bidlingmaier, Oren Hershkovitz, Gili Hart and Beverly M K Biller

Objective

Growth hormone (GH) replacement therapy currently requires daily injections, which may cause distress and low compliance. C-terminal peptide (CTP)-modified growth hormone (MOD-4023) is being developed as a once-weekly dosing regimen in patients with GH deficiency (GHD). This study’s objective is to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics (PK), pharmacodynamics (PD) and efficacy of MOD-4023 administered once-weekly in GHD adults.

Design

54 adults with GHD currently treated with daily GH were normalized and randomized into 4 weekly dosing cohorts of MOD-4023 at 18.5%, 37%, 55.5% or 123.4% of individual cumulative weekly molar hGH dose. The study included 2 stages: Stage A assessed the effectiveness and PK/PD profiles of the 4 dosing regimens of MOD-4023. Stage B was an extension period of once-weekly MOD-4023 administration (61.7% molar hGH content) to collect further safety data and confirm the results from Stage A.

Results

Dose-dependent response was observed for both PK and PD data of weekly MOD-4023 treatment. Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) SDS levels were maintained within normal range. The 18.5% cohort was discontinued due to low efficacy. MOD-4023 was well tolerated and exhibited favorable safety profile in all dose cohorts. The reported adverse events were consistent with known GH-related side effects.

Conclusions

Once-weekly MOD-4023 administration in GHD adults was found to be clinically effective while maintaining a favorable safety profile and may obviate the need for daily injections. Weekly GH injections may improve compliance and overall outcome. The promising results achieved in this Phase 2 study led to a pivotal Phase 3 trial, which is currently ongoing.

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Gerard Conway, Didier Dewailly, Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis, Hector F Escobar-Morreale, Steven Franks, Alessandra Gambineri, Fahrettin Kelestimur, Djuro Macut, Dragan Micic, Renato Pasquali, Marija Pfeifer, Duarte Pignatelli, Michel Pugeat and Bulent O Yildiz

Background

There is evidence for differences between endocrinologists and other specialists in their approach to diagnosis and management of the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Objective

A mailed survey consisting of a simple questionnaire aiming to understand current practice for diagnosis and management of the PCOS by specialists across Europe.

Methods

The questionnaire consisted of 23 questions grouped to achieve information on i) the general characteristics of the respondents, ii) patients with PCOS seen by endocrinologists, iii) the main diagnostic criteria, iv) biochemical parameters used in the differential diagnosis of hyperandrogenism, v) long-term concerns, and, finally vi) treatment choices. A total of 357 questionnaires representing 13.3% of the members of European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) were available for final analysis; 93% of the respondents were endocrinologists

Results

In relation to the diagnostic criteria, respondents were most likely to select menstrual irregularity as the most frequent criteria used for the diagnosis of PCOS although very high rates were achieved for the use of hirsutism and biochemical hyperandrogenism. It therefore appears that the NIH criteria were followed by the majority of respondents. The most frequent biochemical parameters in the differential diagnosis of hyperandrogenism were total testosterone or free androgen index. Obesity and type 2 diabetes were regarded as the principal long-term concerns for PCOS. The most common treatments for patients with PCOS were metformin (33%), lifestyle modification (25%), and oral contraceptives (22%). More direct treatments of infertility include clomiphene citrate alone or in combination with metformin, prescribed by 9 and 23%, respectively, whereas only 6% used other methods for induction of ovulation.

Conclusion

The survey produced by ESE is a good start for evaluating the perspective in the diagnosis and treatment of PCOS by endocrinologists in Europe.

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Elena Valassi, Alicia Santos, Maria Yaneva, Miklós Tóth, Christian J Strasburger, Philippe Chanson, John A H Wass, Olivier Chabre, Marija Pfeifer, Richard A Feelders, Stylianos Tsagarakis, Peter J Trainer, Holger Franz, Kathrin Zopf, Sabina Zacharieva, Steven W J Lamberts, Antoine Tabarin and Susan M Webb

Objective

The European Registry on Cushing's syndrome (ERCUSYN) is designed to collect prospective and follow-up data at EU level on Cushing's syndrome (CS).

Design and methods

Baseline data on 481 CS patients (390 females, 91 males; mean age (±s.d.): 44±14 years) collected from 36 centres in 23 countries, including new patients from 2008 and retrospective cases since 2000. Patients were divided into four major aetiologic groups: pituitary-dependent CS (PIT-CS) (66%), adrenal-dependent CS (ADR-CS) (27%), CS from an ectopic source (ECT-CS) (5%) and CS from other aetiologies (2%).

Results

Proportion of men in the ECT-CS group was higher than in the other groups (P<0.05). The ADR-CS group was older than the PIT-CS (P<0.05). Prevalence of hirsutism (92%) and diabetes (74%) in ECT-CS was higher than in the other groups (P<0.05 and P<0.01 respectively). PIT-CS had more skin alterations, menstrual irregularities and hirsutism than ADR-CS (P<0.01). Reduced libido was more prevalent in men than women (P<0.01). Prevalence of spine osteoporosis was higher in men than women (P<0.05), and males had more vertebral and rib fractures than females (52 vs 18% for vertebrae; P<0.001 and 34 vs 23% for ribs; P<0.05). ECT-CS consulted a diabetologist more frequently than ADR-CS (P<0.05), while a gynaecologist was consulted more often by women with PIT-CS or ADR-CS than with ECT-CS (P<0.05). Overall, weight gain was more common in women than men (P<0.01). CushingQoL and EuroQoL visual analogue scale scores did not differ between the groups.

Conclusions

The ERCUSYN project demonstrates a heterogeneous clinical presentation of CS at a European level, depending on gender and aetiology.

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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, Antoine Tabarin, Michal Krsek, Carmen Fajardo, Marek Bolanowski, Alicia Santos, John A H Wass, Peter J Trainer and for the ERCUSYN Study Group

Objective

To evaluate which tests are performed to diagnose hypercortisolism in patients included in the European Registry on Cushing’s syndrome (ERCUSYN), and to examine if their use differs from the current guidelines.

Patients and methods

We analyzed data on the diagnostic tests performed in 1341 patients with Cushing’s syndrome (CS) who have been entered into the ERCUSYN database between January 1, 2000 and January 31, 2016 from 57 centers in 26 European countries. Sixty-seven percent had pituitary-dependent CS (PIT-CS), 24% had adrenal-dependent CS (ADR-CS), 6% had CS from an ectopic source (ECT-CS) and 3% were classified as having CS from other causes (OTH-CS).

Results

Of the first-line tests, urinary free cortisol (UFC) test was performed in 78% of patients, overnight 1 mg dexamethasone suppression test (DST) in 60% and late-night salivary cortisol (LSaC) in 25%. Use of LSaC increased in the last five years as compared with previous years (P < 0.01). Use of HDDST was slightly more frequent in the last 5 years as compared with previous years (P < 0.05). Of the additional tests, late-night serum cortisol (LSeC) was measured in 62% and 48-h 2 mg/day low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (LDDST) in 33% of cases. ACTH was performed in 78% of patients. LSeC and overnight 1 mg DST supported the diagnosis of both PIT-CS and ADR-CS more frequently than UFC (P < 0.05).

Conclusions

Use of diagnostic tests for CS varies across Europe and partly differs from the currently available guidelines. It would seem pertinent that a European consensus be established to determine the best diagnostic approach to CS, taking into account specific inter-country differences with regard to the availability of diagnostic tools.