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Mark Sherlock and Chris J Thompson

Hyponatraemia is the commonest electrolyte abnormality, and syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH) is the most frequent underlying pathophysiology. Hyponatraemia is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, and as such appropriate treatment is essential. Treatment options for SIADH include fluid restriction, demeclocycline, urea, frusemide and saline infusion, all of which have their limitations. The introduction of the vasopressin-2 receptor antagonists has allowed clinicians to specifically target the underlying pathophysiology of SIADH. Initial studies have shown good efficacy and safety profiles in the treatment of mild to moderate hyponatraemia. However, studies assessing the efficacy and safety of these agents in acute severe symptomatic hyponatraemia are awaited. Furthermore, the cost of these agents at present may limit their use.

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Aoife Garrahy, Mark Sherlock, and Christopher J Thompson

Advances in the management of traumatic brain injury, subarachnoid haemorrhage and intracranial tumours have led to improved survival rates and an increased focus on quality of life of survivors. Endocrine sequelae of the acute brain insult and subsequent neurosurgery, peri-operative fluid administration and/or cranial irradiation are now well described. Unrecognised acute hypopituitarism, particularly ACTH/cortisol deficiency and diabetes insipidus, can be life threatening. Although hypopituitarism may be transient, up to 30% of survivors of TBI have chronic hypopituitarism, which can diminish quality of life and hamper rehabilitation. Patients who survive SAH may also develop hypopituitarism, though it is less common than after TBI. The growth hormone axis is most frequently affected. There is also accumulating evidence that survivors of intracranial malignancy, who have required cranial irradiation, may develop hypopituitarism. The time course of the development of hormone deficits is varied, and predictors of pituitary dysfunction are unreliable. Furthermore, diagnosis of GH and ACTH deficiency require dynamic testing that can be resource intensive. Thus the surveillance and management of neuroendocrine dysfunction in neurosurgical patients poses significant logistic challenges to endocrine services. However, diagnosis and management of pituitary dysfunction can be rewarding. Appropriate hormone replacement can improve quality of life, prevent complications such as muscle atrophy, infection and osteoporosis and improve engagement with physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

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Amar Agha, Mark Sherlock, Jack Phillips, William Tormey, and Christopher J Thompson

Background and objectives: Posterior pituitary function remains poorly investigated after traumatic brain injury (TBI). We report the results of a study designed to prospectively define the natural history of post-traumatic diabetes insipidus (DI) and syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH) using standard reliable methodology.

Design and methods: 50 consecutive patients with severe or moderate TBI (initial Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score 3/15–13/15) were prospectively studied on three occasions: at the acute phase and at 6 months and at 12 months following TBI. In the acute phase, DI was diagnosed either by the presence of hypernatraemia in association with hypotonic polyuria or by the water-deprivation test (WDT) and, at 6 and 12 months by the WDT in all patients. Normative data on response to the WDT were obtained from healthy matched volunteers. Functional outcome was assessed using the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS).

Results: 13 patients (26%) had DI in the acute post-TBI phase, of whom nine patients recovered by 6 months and one additional patient recovered by 12 months. Of the remaining three patients with permanent DI, two had partial vasopressin deficiency. Acute-phase peak plasma osmolality correlated negatively with the initial GCS scores (r = −0.39, P = 0.005) and with the GOS scores (r = −0.45, P = 0.001). Seven patients had SIADH in the acute phase of TBI but none did at 6 or 12 months. No new cases of DI or SIADH were noted after the acute phase.

Conclusion: This prospective study shows that posterior pituitary dysfunction is common following TBI. Most cases recover completely but there is an appreciable frequency of long-term DI which can be subtle and should be recognized and managed appropriately.

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Mirjam Christ-Crain, Ewout J Hoorn, Mark Sherlock, Chris J Thompson, and John A H Wass

COVID-19 has changed the nature of medical consultations, emphasizing virtual patient counseling, with relevance for patients with diabetes insipidus (DI) or hyponatraemia. The main complication of desmopressin treatment in DI is dilutional hyponatraemia. Since plasma sodium monitoring is not always possible in times of COVID-19, we recommend to delay the desmopressin dose once a week until aquaresis occurs allowing excess retained water to be excreted. Patients should measure their body weight daily. Patients with DI admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 have a high risk for mortality due to volume depletion. Specialists must supervise fluid replacement and dosing of desmopressin. Patients after pituitary surgery should drink to thirst and measure their body weight daily to early recognize the development of the postoperative syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis (SIAD). They should know hyponatraemia symptoms. The prevalence of hyponatraemia in patients with pneumonia due to COVID-19 is not yet known, but seems to be low. In contrast, hypernatraemia may develop in COVID-19 patients in ICU, from different multifactorial reasons, for example, due to insensible water losses from pyrexia, increased respiration rate and use of diuretics. Hypernatraemic dehydration may contribute to the high risk of acute kidney injury in COVID-19. IV fluid replacement should be administered with caution in severe cases of COVID-19 because of the risk of pulmonary oedema.

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Aoife Garrahy, Martin Cuesta, Brian Murphy, Michael W O’Reilly, William P Tormey, Mark Sherlock, and Chris J Thompson

Objective

Severe hyponatraemia (plasma sodium concentration, pNa <120 mmol/L) is reported to be associated with mortality rates as high as 50%. Although there are several international guidelines for the management of severe hyponatraemia, there are few data on the impact of treatment.

Design and methods

We have longitudinally reviewed rates of specialist input, active management of hyponatraemia, treatment outcomes and mortality rates in patients with severe hyponatraemia (pNa <120 mmol/L) in 2005, 2010 and 2015, and compared the recent mortality rate with that of patients with pNa 120–125 mmol/L.

Results

Between 2005 and 2010 there was a doubling in the rate of specialist referral (32 to 68%, P = 0.003) and an increase in the use of active management of hyponatraemia in patients with pNa <120 mmol/L (63 to 88%, P = 0.02), associated with a reduction in mortality from 51 to 15% (P < 0.001). The improved rates of intervention were maintained between 2010 and 2015, but there was no further reduction in mortality. When data from all three reviews were pooled, specialist consultation in patients with pNa <120 mmol/L was associated with a 91% reduction in mortality risk, RR 0.09 (95% CI: 0.03–0.26), P < 0.001. Log-rank testing on in-hospital survival in 2015 found no significant difference between patients with pNa <120 mmol/L and pNa 120–125 mmol/L (P = 0.56).

Conclusion

Dedicated specialist input and active management of severe hyponatraemia are associated with a reduction in mortality, to rates comparable with moderate hyponatraemia.

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Mark Sherlock, Lucy Ann Behan, Mark J Hannon, Aurora Aragon Alonso, Christopher J Thompson, Robert D Murray, Nicola Crabtree, Beverly A Hughes, Wiebke Arlt, Amar Agha, Andrew A Toogood, and Paul M Stewart

Context

Patients with hypopituitarism have increased morbidity and mortality. There is ongoing debate about the optimum glucocorticoid (GC) replacement therapy.

Objective

To assess the effect of GC replacement in hypopituitarism on corticosteroid metabolism and its impact on body composition.

Design and patients

We assessed the urinary corticosteroid metabolite profile (using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) and body composition (clinical parameters and full body DXA) of 53 patients (19 female, median age 46 years) with hypopituitarism (33 ACTH-deficient/20 ACTH-replete) (study A). The corticosteroid metabolite profile of ten patients with ACTH deficiency was then assessed prospectively in a cross over study using three hydrocortisone (HC) dosing regimens (20/10 mg, 10/10 mg and 10/5 mg) (study B) each for 6 weeks. 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (11β-HSD1) activity was assessed by urinary THF+5α-THF/THE.

Setting

Endocrine Centres within University Teaching Hospitals in the UK and Ireland.

Main outcome measures

Urinary corticosteroid metabolite profile and body composition assessment.

Results

In study A, when patients were divided into three groups – patients not receiving HC and patients receiving HC≤20 mg/day or HC>20 mg/day – patients in the group receiving the highest daily dose of HC had significantly higher waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) than the ACTH replete group. They also had significantly elevated THF+5α-THF/THE (P=0.0002) and total cortisol metabolites (P=0.015). In study B, patients on the highest HC dose had significantly elevated total cortisol metabolites and all patients on HC had elevated THF+5α-THF/THE ratios when compared to controls.

Conclusions

In ACTH-deficient patients daily HC doses of >20 mg/day have increased WHR, THF+5α-THF/THE ratios and total cortisol metabolites. GC metabolism and induction of 11β-HSD1 may play a pivitol role in the development of the metabolically adverse hypopituitary phenotype.

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Anne Marie Hannon, Triona O’Shea, Claire A Thompson, Mark J Hannon, Rosemary Dineen, Aftab Khattak, James Gibney, Domhnall J O’Halloran, Steven Hunter, Christopher J Thompson, and Mark Sherlock

Pregnancy is rarely reported in acromegaly. Many patients are diagnosed in later life and younger patients may have subfertility due to hypopituitarism. We present a case series of 17 pregnancies in 12 women with acromegaly.

Twelve women with acromegaly who completed pregnancy were identified from centres involved in the Irish Pituitary Study. Eleven women had pituitary macroadenomas and one woman had a microadenoma. Only 5/17 pregnancies had optimal biochemical control of acromegaly preconception, as defined by IGF-1 concentration in the age-related reference level and plasma GH concentration of <2 μg/L. In 6/17 pregnancies, dopamine agonist treatment was continued during pregnancy; all other acromegaly treatments were discontinued during pregnancy.

Effect of pregnancy on acromegaly: No patient developed new visual field abnormalities, or symptoms suggestive of tumour expansion during pregnancy. In 9/12 patients, plasma IGF-1 concentrations that were elevated preconception normalised during pregnancy. There was a reduction in plasma IGF-1 concentrations, though not into the normal range, in a further two pregnancies.

Effect of acromegaly on pregnancy: 15 healthy babies were born at term; one patient underwent emergency C-section at 32 weeks for pre-eclampsia, and one twin pregnancy had an elective C-section at 35 weeks’ gestation. Blood pressure remained within normal limits in the remainder of the pregnancies. Gestational diabetes did not develop in any pregnancy.

Our data suggests that pregnancy in women with acromegaly is generally safe, from a maternal and foetal perspective. Furthermore, biochemical control tends to improve despite the withdrawal of somatostatin analogue therapy during pregnancy.

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Rosemary Dineen, Julie Martin-Grace, Khalid Mohamed Saeed Ahmed, Isolda Frizelle, Anjuli Gunness, Aoife Garrahy, Anne Marie Hannon, Michael W O’Reilly, Diarmuid Smith, John McDermott, Marie-Louise Healy, Amar Agha, Agnieszka Pazderska, James Gibney, Chris J Thompson, Lucy-Ann Behan, and Mark Sherlock

Background

Adrenal insufficiency (AI) is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and reduced quality of life (QoL). Optimum glucocorticoid (GC) dosing and timing are crucial in the treatment of AI, yet the natural circadian secretion of cortisol is difficult to mimic. The once-daily dual-release hydrocortisone (DR-HC) preparation (Plenadren®), offers a more physiological cortisol profile and may address unmet needs.

Methods

An investigator-initiated, prospective, cross-over study in patients with AI. Following baseline assessment of cardiometabolic risk factors and QoL, patients switched from their usual hydrocortisone regimen to a once-daily dose equivalent of DR-HC and were reassessed after 12 weeks of treatment.

Results

Fifty-one patients (21 PAI/30 SAI) completed the study. Mean age was 41.6 years (s.d. 13), and 58% (n = 30) were male. The median daily HC dose before study entry was 20 mg (IQR 15–20 mg). After 3 months on DR-HC, the mean SBP decreased by 5.7 mmHg, P = 0.0019 and DBP decreased by 4.5 mmHg, P = 0.0011. There was also a significant reduction in mean body weight (−1.23 kg, P = 0.006) and BMI (−0.3 kg/m2, P = 0.003). In a sub-analysis, there was a greater reduction in SBP observed in patients with SAI when compared to PAI post-DR-HC. Patients reported significant improvements in QoL using three validated QoL questionnaires, with a greater improvement in PAI.

Conclusion

Dual-release hydrocortisone decreases BP, weight and BMI compared with conventional HC treatment, even at physiological GC replacement doses. Additionally, DR-HC confers significant improvements in QoL compared to immediate-release HC, particularly in patients with PAI, which is also reflected in the patient preference for DR-HC.

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Joakim Crona, Eric Baudin, Massimo Terzolo, Alexandra Chrisoulidou, Anna Angelousi, Cristina L Ronchi, Cristina Lamas Oliveira, Els J M Nieveen van Dijkum, Filippo Ceccato, Françoise Borson-Chazot, Giuseppe Reimondo, Guido A M Tiberi, Hester Ettaieb, Andreas Kiriakopoulos, Canu Letizia, Darko Kastelan, Esthr Osher, Eugenia Yiannakopoulou, Giorgio Arnaldi, Guillaume Assié, Isabel Paiva, Isabelle Bourdeau, John Newell-Price, Karolina M Nowak, M Tous Romero, Maria Cristina De Martino, Maria João Bugalho, Mark Sherlock, Marie-Christine Vantyghem, Michael Conall Dennedy, Paula Loli, Patrice Rodien, Richard Feelders, Ronald de Krijger, Sam Van Slycke, Simon Aylwin, Valentina Morelli, Laurent Vroonen, Zulfiya Shafigullina, Irina Bancos, Małgorzata Trofimiuk-Müldner, Marcus Quinkler, Michaela Luconi, Matthias Kroiss, Mitsuhide Naruse, Peter Igaz, Radu Mihai, Silvia Della Casa, Alfredo Berruti, Martin Fassnacht, and Felix Beuschlein

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is an orphan disease lacking effective systemic treatment options. The low incidence of the disease and high cost of clinical trials are major obstacles in the search for improved treatment strategies. As a novel approach, registry-based clinical trials have been introduced in clinical research, so allowing for significant cost reduction, but without compromising scientific benefit. Herein, we describe how the European Network for the Study of Adrenal Tumours (ENSAT) could transform its current registry into one fit for a clinical trial infrastructure. The rationale to perform randomized registry-based trials in ACC is outlined including an analysis of relevant limitations and challenges. We summarize a survey on this concept among ENSAT members who expressed a strong interest in the concept and rated its scientific potential as high. Legal aspects, including ethical approval of registry-based randomization were identified as potential obstacles. Finally, we describe three potential randomized registry-based clinical trials in an adjuvant setting and for advanced disease with a high potential to be executed within the framework of an advanced ENSAT registry. Thus we, therefore, provide the basis for future registry-based trials for ACC patients. This could ultimately provide proof-of-principle of how to perform more effective randomized trials for an orphan disease.