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Open access

Mirjam Christ-Crain

Diabetes insipidus (DI), be it from central or nephrogenic origin, must be differentiated from secondary forms of hypotonic polyuria such as primary polydipsia. Differentiation is crucial since wrong treatment can have deleterious consequences. Since decades, the gold standard for differentiation has been the water deprivation test, which has limitations leading to an overall unsatisfying diagnostic accuracy. Furthermore, it is cumbersome for patients with a long test duration. Clinical signs and symptoms and MRI characteristics overlap between patients with DI and primary polydipsia. The direct test including vasopressin (AVP) measurement upon osmotic stimulation was meant to overcome these limitations, but failed to enter clinical practice mainly due to technical constraints of the AVP assay. Copeptin is secreted in equimolar amount to AVP but can easily be measured with a sandwich immunoassay. A high correlation between copeptin and AVP has been shown. Accordingly, copeptin mirrors the amount of AVP in the circulation and has led to a ‘revival’ of the direct test in the differential diagnosis of DI. We have shown that a baseline copeptin, without prior thirsting, unequivocally identifies patients with nephrogenic DI. In contrast, for the differentiation between central DI and primary polydipsia, a stimulated copeptin level of 4.9 pmol/L upon hypertonic saline infusion differentiates these two entities with a high diagnostic accuracy and is superior to the water deprivation test. Close sodium monitoring during the test is a prerequisite. Further new test methods are currently evaluated and might provide an even simpler way of differential diagnosis in the future.

Free access

Stefanie Neidert, Philipp Schuetz, Beat Mueller, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Background

Suppression of the adrenal function after glucocorticoid treatment is common, potentially dangerous, and unpredictable. Identification of patients at risk is of clinical importance. We hypothesized that the dexamethasone suppression test predicts the development of corticosteroid-induced impaired adrenal function.

Methods

We included 39 healthy male volunteers. After a 1-μg ACTH test, all participants underwent an overnight 0.5-mg dexamethasone suppression test. Participants then took prednisone, 0.5 mg/kg body weight, for 14-day. After the withdrawal of prednisone, a 1-μg ACTH test was performed and a clinical score was assessed on days 1, 3, 7, and 21.

Results

On days 1, 3, 7, and 21, 100, 50, 26.5 and 32.4% of the participants had a suppressed adrenal function. The risk of developing suppressed adrenal function decreased from 44 to 0% in patients with cortisol levels after the administration of dexamethasone in the lowest and highest quartiles respectively. Receiver operating curve (ROC) analysis performed to predict a suppressed adrenal function on day 7 after the withdrawal of prednisone showed an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.76 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.58–0.89) for cortisol after the administration of dexamethasone, which was in the range of the AUC of 0.78 (95% CI 0.6–0.9) for pre-intervention cortisol after the administration of ACTH. Basal cortisol before intake of prednisone (AUC 0.62 (95% CI 0.44–0.78)) and the clinical score (AUC 0.64 (95% CI 0.45–0.79)) had significantly lower AUCs.

Conclusion

Circulating cortisol levels after a dexamethasone suppression test and a pre-intervention-stimulated cortisol level are predictive of later development of a suppressed adrenal function after a 14-day course of prednisone, and are superior to a clinical score or basal cortisol levels. This may allow a more targeted concept for the need of stress prophylaxis after cessation of steroid therapy.

Free access

Philipp Schuetz, Beat Müller, Charly Nusbaumer, Melanie Wieland, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Background

Circulating levels of GH are increased during critical illness and correlate with outcome in children with meningococcal sepsis. We assessed the prognostic implications of GH on admission and during follow-up in critically ill adult patients admitted to a medical intensive care unit.

Materials and methods

We measured GH, IGF1 and IGF-binding protein3 (IGFBP-3) plasma concentrations in 103 consecutive critically ill patients and compared it with two clinical severity scores (APACHE II, SAPS II).

Results

Median GH levels on admission were similar in septic (n=53) and non-septic (n=50) patients and about 7-fold increased in the 24 non-survivors as compared with survivors (9.50 (interquartile ranges (IQR) 3.53–18.40) vs 1.4 (IQR 0.63–5.04), P<0.0001). GH levels increased with increasing severity of sepsis (sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock, P=0.019). By contrast, IGF1 and IGFBP-3 did not correlate with severity of disease or mortality. Logistic regression models showed that GH and both clinical scores were independent predictors of mortality with a similar prognostic accuracy (GH: area under the curve (AUC) 0.81 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.71–0.92), APACHE II: AUC 0.71 (95% CI, 0.58–0.83), P=0.16, SAPS II: AUC 0.75 (95% CI, 0.63–0.86, P=0.36)). GH improved the prognostic accuracy of the APACHE II score to an AUC of 0.78 (95% CI, 0.66–090, P=0.04) and tended to improve the SAPS II score to an AUC of 0.79 (95% CI, 0.67–0.90, P=0.09).

Conclusion

GH plasma concentrations on admission are independent predictors for mortality in adult critically ill patients and may complement existing risk prediction scores, namely the APACHE II and the SAPS II score.

Restricted access

Laura Potasso, Julie Refardt, Christian Meier, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Objective

Hyponatremia is associated with an increased risk of bone fragility and fractures. Many studies suggest that hyponatremia stimulates osteoclast activation, whereas other studies rather reveal a possible role of acute hyponatremia in impairing osteoblast function. We aimed to assess whether and how correction of hyponatremia in hospitalized patients with the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis (SIAD) has an impact on bone metabolism.

Design and Methods

This was a predefined secondary analysis of 88 hospitalized patients with SIAD undergoing a randomized treatment with SGLT-2 inhibitors or placebo for 4 days. Biochemical markers of bone resorption (CTX) and bone formation (PINP) were collected in serum at baseline and after the intervention (day 5). Bone formation index (defined as PINP/CTX) and its difference between day 5 and baseline were calculated. Patients with steroid therapy (n = 6), fractures (n = 10), or whose data were missing (n = 4) were excluded from the analysis.

Results

Out of 68 patients, 27 (39.7%) were normonatremic at day 5. These patients showed an increase in serum PINP (P = 0.04), whereas persistent hyponatremic patients did not (P = 0.38), with a relevant difference between these two subgroups (P = 0.005). Serum CTX increased similarly in the two groups (P = 0.43). This produced a 47.9 points higher PINP/CTX difference between discharge and admission in normonatremic patients (95% CI: 17.0–78.7, P = 0.003) compared to patients with persistent hyponatremia, independent of age, sex, BMI, smoking habits, randomization arm, and baseline cortisol levels.

Conclusions

Our predefined post hoc analysis shows that correction of hyponatremia in hospitalized patients with SIAD might have a positive impact on osteoblast function.

Free access

Judith Siegenthaler, Carla Walti, Sandrine Andrea Urwyler, Philipp Schuetz, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Objective

The prognostic/diagnostic biomarker copeptin, an arginine vasopressin surrogate, reflects physical stress. Whether copeptin concentration increases upon psychological stress is unknown. We investigated psychological stress effects on copeptin secretion in healthy volunteers and patients with central diabetes insipidus (DI).

Design

A prospective observational study was conducted to study the relation between copeptin concentration and psychological stress.

Methods

A total of 20 healthy adults (ten female) and eight patients with central DI (four female) underwent the Trier Social Stress Test including, in order, 30-min waiting period, 10-min anticipation period, 10-min test period and 40-min recovery. Serum copeptin and cortisol concentrations and self-rated stress component feelings were determined in the pre-/post-anticipation period, post-test period and twice post-recovery.

Results

In healthy volunteers, the median (25th–75th percentile) copeptin concentration peaked immediately during the post-test period at 5.1 (3.2–7.0) pmol/l, vs 3.7 (2.6–5.4) pmol/l at baseline. Over the measurement course, copeptin concentration significantly elevated (coefficient; 95% CI) (0.14; 0.06–0.23, P=0.002). The important predictors of increase in copeptin concentration were feelings of tension (0.06; 0.04–0.08, P<0.001) and avoidance (0.07; 0.04–0.10; P<0.001). Copeptin and cortisol levels were associated (0.43; 0.13–0.72, P<0.005). Patients with DI had lower baseline concentrations (1.55 (1.2–3.1) pmol/l) when compared with healthy volunteers, P=0.006. Patients with DI showed no increase upon psychological stress (peak 2.15 pmol/l (1.5–2.28), P=0.79). By contrast, cortisol values were similar in patients and volunteers.

Conclusions

In healthy volunteers, copeptin levels significantly increased after psychological stress testing; this response was blunted in patients with DI.

Open access

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.

Open access

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

COVID-19 has changed the nature of medical consultations, emphasizing virtual patient counselling, 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 postoperative SIAD. They should know hyponatraemia symptoms. Hyponatraemia in COVID-19 is common with a prevalence of 20–30% and is mostly due to SIAD or hypovolaemia. It mirrors disease severity and is an early predictor of mortality. Hypernatraemia may also develop in COVID-19 patients, with a prevalence of 3–5%, especially in ICU, and derives 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.

Restricted access

Cihan Atila, Odile Gaisl, Deborah R Vogt, Laura Werlen, Gabor Szinnai, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Background

The differential diagnosis of diabetes insipidus is challenging. The most reliable approaches are copeptin measurements after hypertonic saline infusion or arginine, which is a known growth hormone secretagogue but has recently also been shown to stimulate the neurohypophysis. Similar to arginine, glucagon stimulates growth hormone release, but its effect on the neurohypophysis is poorly studied.

Design

Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial including 22 healthy participants, 10 patients with central diabetes insipidus, and 10 patients with primary polydipsia at the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland.

Methods

Each participant underwent the glucagon test (s.c. injection of 1 mg glucagon) and placebo test. The primary objective was to determine whether glucagon stimulates copeptin and to explore whether the copeptin response differentiates between diabetes insipidus and primary polydipsia. Copeptin levels were measured at baseline, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180 min after injection.

Results

In healthy participants, glucagon stimulated copeptin with a median increase of 7.56 (2.38; 28.03) pmol/L, while placebo had no effect (0.10 pmol/L (−0.70; 0.68); P < 0.001). In patients with diabetes insipidus, copeptin showed no relevant increase upon glucagon, with an increase of 0.55 (0.21; 1.65) pmol/L, whereas copeptin was stimulated in patients with primary polydipsia with an increase of 15.70 (5.99; 24.39) pmol/L. Using a copeptin cut-off level of 4.6pmol/L had a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI: 100–100) and a specificity of 90% (95% CI: 70–100) to discriminate between diabetes insipidus and primary polydipsia.

Conclusion

Glucagon stimulates the neurohypophysis, and glucagon-stimulated copeptin has the potential for a safe, novel, and precise test in the differential diagnosis of diabetes insipidus.

Free access

Eleonora Seelig, Stefanie Meyer, Katharina Timper, Nicole Nigro, Martina Bally, Ida Pernicova, Philipp Schuetz, Beat Müller, Marta Korbonits, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Objectives

Patients receiving glucocorticoid treatment are prone to develop metabolic complications. In preclinical studies, metformin prevented the development of the metabolic syndrome during glucocorticoid excess. We herein investigated the metabolic effect of metformin during glucocorticoid treatment in non-diabetic patients.

Methods

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, patients starting glucocorticoid treatment (prednisone, prednisolone or methylprednisolone) for four weeks were randomised to concomitantly receive metformin (850 mg once daily for one week followed by 850 mg twice daily for three weeks) or placebo. All patients underwent a standardised oral glucose tolerance test at baseline and after four weeks. The primary endpoint was change in the 2-h area under the curve (AUC) of glucose during the oral glucose tolerance test between baseline and four weeks.

Results

29 of 34 randomised non-diabetic patients completed the trial (17 metformin and 12 placebo). In patients allocated to placebo, median glucose 2-h AUC increased from baseline to four weeks (836 (IQR 770–966) to 1202 (1009–1271) mmol/L per min; P = 0.01). In contrast, glucose levels remained similar to baseline in the metformin group (936 (869–1003) to 912 (825–1011) mmol/L per min; P = 0.83). This change within four weeks was different between both groups (P = 0.005). Glucocorticoid equivalent doses were similar in both groups (placebo: 980.0 (560.0–3259.8) mg/28 days; metformin: 683.0 (437.5–1970.5) mg/28 days; P = 0.26).

Conclusions

In this first randomised controlled trial of metformin targeting metabolic complications in patients needing glucocorticoid therapy, we observed a beneficial effect of metformin on glycaemic control. Metformin thus seems to be a promising drug for preventing metabolic side effects during systemic glucocorticoid treatment.

Free access

Bettina Winzeler, Nica Jeanloz, Nicole Nigro, Isabelle Suter-Widmer, Philipp Schuetz, Birsen Arici, Martina Bally, Claudine Blum, Andreas Bock, Andreas Huber, Beat Mueller, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Background

Hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte abnormality in hospitalized patients and given its impact on mortality and morbidity, a relevant medical condition. Nevertheless, little is known about factors influencing long-term outcome.

Methods

This is a prospective observational 12-month follow-up study of patients with profound hyponatremia (≤125 mmol/L) admitted to the emergency department of two tertiary care centers between 2011 and 2013. We analyzed the predictive value of clinical and laboratory parameters regarding the following outcomes: 1-year mortality, rehospitalization and recurrent profound hyponatremia.

Results

Median (IQR) initial serum sodium (s-sodium) level of 281 included patients was 120 mmol/L (116–123). During the follow-up period, 58 (20.6%) patients died. The majority (56.2%) were rehospitalized at least once. Recurrent hyponatremia was observed in 42.7%, being profound in 16%. Underlying comorbidities, assessed by the Charlson Comorbidity Index, predicted 1-year mortality (odds ratio (OR) 1.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.25–1.64, P < 0.001). Furthermore, ‘s-sodium level at admission’ (OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.01–1.29, P = 0.036) and ‘correction of hyponatremia’ defined as s-sodium ≥135 mmol/L at discharge were associated with mortality (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.23–0.94, P = 0.034). Mortality rate fell with decreasing baseline s-sodium levels and was lower in the hyponatremia category ≤120 mmol/L vs >120 mmol/L (14.8% and 27.8%, P < 0.01). Patients with s-sodium level ≤120 mmol/L were more likely to have drug-induced hyponatremia, whereas hypervolemic hyponatremia was more common in patients with s-sodium >120 mmol/L.

Conclusion

Hyponatremia is associated with a substantial 1-year mortality, recurrence and rehospitalization rate. The positive correlation of s-sodium and mortality emphasizes the importance of the underlying disease, which determines the outcome besides hyponatremia itself.