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Matti Hero, Carina Ankarberg-Lindgren, Marja-Riitta Taskinen, and Leo Dunkel

Objective: In males, the pubertal increase in sex hormone production has been associated with proatherogenic changes in lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. Aromatase inhibitors, a novel treatment modality for some growth disorders, may significantly influence these risk factors for cardiovascular disease by suppressing oestrogen biosynthesis and stimulating gonadal androgen production. In the current study, we explored the effects of aromatase inhibition on lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, body composition and serum adiponectin in peripubertal boys.

Design: Prospective, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled clinical study.

Methods: Thirty-one boys, aged 9.0–14.5 years, with idiopathic short stature were treated with the aromatase inhibitor letrozole (2.5 mg/day) or placebo for 2 years. During the treatment, the concentrations of sex hormones, IGF-I, lipids, lipoproteins and adiponectin were followed-up. The percentage of fat mass (FM) was assessed by skinfold measurements and insulin resistance by homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) index.

Results: In pubertal boys, who received letrozole, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) decreased by 0.47 mmol/l (P<0.01) during the study. Simultaneously, their percentage of FM decreased from 17.0 to 10.5 (P<0.001), in an inverse relationship with serum testosterone. The concentrations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and HOMA index remained at pretreatment level in both groups. Serum adiponectin decreased similarly in letrozole- and placebo-treated pubertal boys (2.9 and 3.3 mg/l respectively).

Conclusions: In males, aromatase inhibition reduces HDL-C and decreases relative FM after the start of puberty. The treatment does not adversely affect insulin sensitivity in lean subjects.

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Juho Kärkinen, Päivi J Miettinen, Taneli Raivio, and Matti Hero

Objective:

To describe the etiology of severe short stature in the Helsinki University Hospital district covering a population of 1.2 million that is subject to frequent growth monitoring and screening rules during childhood.

Design:

Retrospective cohort study.

Methods:

We identified all subjects born 1990 or later with a height SD score <−3, after the age of 3 years, from the Helsinki University Hospital district growth database. A total of 785 subjects (376 females and 409 males) fulfilled our inclusion criteria; we reviewed their medical records and growth data and report their underlying diagnoses.

Results:

A pathological cause for short stature was diagnosed in 76% of the girls and 71% of the boys (P = NS). Syndromes were the most numerous pathological cause (n = 160; 20%), followed by organ disorders (n = 127; 16%), growth hormone deficiency (GHD, n = 94; 12%), SGA without catch-up growth (n = 73; 9%), and skeletal dysplasias (n = 57; 7%). Idiopathic short stature (ISS) was diagnosed in 210 (27%) subjects. The probability of growth-related pathology, particularly of a syndrome or skeletal dysplasia, increased with the shorter height SD score and the greater deviation from the target height. Sitting height to height SDS was increased in subjects with ISS, GHD, and SGA (all P < 0.01).

Conclusions:

Height <−3 SDS after 3 years of age usually results from a pathological cause and should be thoroughly investigated in specialized health care. The chance of finding a specific etiology increased with the severity of short stature, and the mismatch with target height.

Free access

Tero Varimo, Leo Dunkel, Kirsi Vaaralahti, Päivi J Miettinen, Matti Hero, and Taneli Raivio

Objective

Makorin ring finger protein 3 (MKRN3) gene restrains the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis. In girls, peripheral levels of MKRN3 decline prior to the onset of puberty. We described longitudinal changes in serum MKRN3 levels in boys before and during puberty and assessed the effect of inhibition of estrogen biosynthesis on MKRN3 levels.

Design

Longitudinal serum samples from a double-blind, randomized controlled study in 30 boys (age range: 9.1–14.2years) with idiopathic short stature who received placebo (Pl; n=14) or aromatase inhibitor letrozole (Lz; 2.5mg/day; n=16) for 2years.

Methods

We analyzed the relationships between serum MKRN3 and clinical and biochemical markers of puberty by using summary measures.

Results

Serum MKRN3 declined by 669±713 pg/mL per year (P<0.001). This change was biphasic, as the levels decreased during Tanner genital stage G1 (–2931±2750 pg/mL per year) and plateaued thereafter (–560±1510 pg/mL per year) (P<0.05). During G1, MKRN3 levels in Lz-treated subjects decreased slower than in Pl-treated boys (–782±3190 vs –2030±821 pg/mL per year, P<0.05). The decrease in serum MKRN3 levels in G1 was associated with increases in LH (r=–0.5, P<0.01), testosterone (r=–0.6, P<0.01), and inhibin B (r=–0.44, P<0.05) (n=26).

Conclusion

Peripheral MKRN3 levels in boys appear to serve as a readout of the diminishing central inhibition that controls the onset of puberty.