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P Jaquet

Since the initial observation of a GH-lowering effect of l-dopa in acromegalic patients (1, 2), dopamine agonist drugs have been widely employed as therapeutic agents in the treatment of acromegaly. However, cross-sectional analysis of 514 patients treated with bromocriptine (7.5–20 mg daily, with multiple administration) revealed rather disappointing results (3). Long-term treatment with bromocriptine seldom produced significant shrinkage of GH-secreting pituitary adenomas (4) and in fact lowered plasma GH levels to below 5 μg/l in only 21% of cases. If stricter criteria of normality were adopted, to include the achievement of a normal basal level of IGF-I, the efficacy of bromocriptine treatment of acromegalic patients was reduced to about 8%. In addition, the development of a long-acting somatostatin analogue, octreotide, has been a major advance in the medical treatment of acromegaly, and this has diminished the interest in dopamine agonist drugs.

In the present issue of European Journal of Endocrinology

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P Caron, A Tabarin, M Cogne, P Chanson and P Jaquet

OBJECTIVE: Intramuscular injections of 30mg slow-release (SR) lanreotide (every 10 to 14 days) are an effective treatment in acromegalic patients. Because of an ongoing need to assess the efficacy and the tolerance of a new formulation of a depot preparation of lanreotide, we have evaluated prospectively GH profiles following withdrawal of 30mg slow-release lanreotide in a cohort of acromegalic patients. PATIENTS: Fifty-one acromegalic patients, controlled during long-term 30mg SR lanreotide treatment (GH: 1.44 +/- 0.64 microgram/l, IGF-I: 316 +/- 145ng/ml) (mean +/- s.d.), were studied following the withdrawal of the drug. MEASUREMENTS: Mean GH (half-hour samples, 0800-1200h), IGF-I and lanreotide levels were evaluated 14, 28, and 42 days following the last 30mg SR lanreotide injection. RESULTS: Mean GH levels remained below 2.5 microgram/l in 32 patients (group 1) twenty-eight days following SR lanreotide withdrawal. In these patients, mean GH and IGF-I levels had increased from 1.2 +/- 0.6 to 1.7 +/- 0.5 microgram/l (P < 0001), and from 283 +/- 138 to 359 +/- 168ng/ml (P < 0.001) respectively. In the 19 other patients (group 2), mean GH concentrations had risen above 2.5 microgram/l at 28 days following SR lanreotide withdrawal. Mean GH and IGF-I levels had increased from 1.9 +/- 0.4 to 5.1 +/- 2.8 microgram/l (P < 0.001), and from 371 +/- 143 to 568 +/- 206ng/ml (P < 0.001) respectively. Patients of groups 1 and 2 were comparable with regard to age, sex, tumoral status, mean GH levels before somatostatin analogue treatment, and previous treatments such as radiotherapy and duration of somatostatin analogue therapy, but 75% of group 1 patients underwent surgery compared with 37% of group 2 patients (P < 0.01). Twenty-eight days following SR lanreotide withdrawal, mean lanreotide levels in group 1 and group 2 had decreased from 1.6 +/- 0.7 to 0.6 +/- 0.3ng/ml (P < 0.001), and from 2.7 +/- 2.0 to 0.7 +/- 0.7ng/ml (P < 0.001) respectively. A negative correlation was observed between the lanreotide levels and GH and IGF-I concentrations in the two groups of patients, but the inhibition of GH/IGF-I concentrations by lanreotide levels was higher in group 1 patients than in those of group 2. Six patients of group 1 were treated with 30mg SR lanreotide injected at monthly intervals. During monthly follow-up, mean GH levels increased above 2.5 microgram/l in 2 patients. After 12 months follow-up, mean GH and IGF-I levels from 4 other patients were similar to those obtained with previous therapeutic sequence (i.e. intramuscular injections every 14 days). CONCLUSION: The degree of responsiveness to lanreotide and the duration of somatotroph suppression following lanreotide withdrawal are variable in acromegalic patients controlled during long-term 30mg SR lanreotide treatment. In patients displaying high sensitivity to lanreotide, the interval between i.m. 30mg SR lanreotide injections can be increased to one month, thus reducing the cost of the therapy, without altering its efficacy upon GH/IGF-I control.

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D Jaquet, E Khallouf, C Levy-Marchal and P Czernichow

Congenital generalized lipoatrophy (CGL) is a syndrome with multiple clinical manifestations and complete atrophy of adipose tissue. The exact mechanism of this disease remains unknown. One hypothesis presupposes an abnormal development of adipocytes. Leptin, the adipocyte-specific product of the ob gene, acts as a regulatory factor of body weight. In children, as in adults, leptin levels are correlated with body mass index (BMI) and body fat mass. Some authors have demonstrated that adults with congenital or acquired generalized lipoatrophy have decreased leptin concentrations. In order to study serum leptin profile during childhood in this disease, we measured serum leptin concentrations in six children aged 5.5-11 years suffering from CGL, and investigated the relationship between metabolic parameters and the variations in leptin levels. Serum leptin concentrations (1.19+/-0.32 ng/ml (+/- S.D.)) were extremely low compared with those observed in normal children. No significant correlation was found with BMI, which is known to be one of the major determinants of serum leptin. Serum leptin values were significantly correlated with fasting insulin levels (r=0.83, P=0.024). In conclusion, extremely low leptin values measured in children with CGL could be regarded as one among other diagnostic parameters. However, the detectable levels observed in all of these children support the evidence that a small amount of body fat is likely to be present in these patients, despite complete subcutaneous lipoatrophy. Our data suggest that this small amount of adipose tissue could be metabolically active and, at least in part, sensitive to insulin. Further investigations are required to uncover the pathophysiological mechanisms of this syndrome, known to be commonly associated with insulin resistance.

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R Valero, S Vallette-Kasic, B Conte-Devolx, P Jaquet and T Brue

OBJECTIVE: Taking advantage of the over-expression of V3 receptors in adenomatous corticotroph cells, we evaluated the response to the vasopressin agonist desmopressin in 22 patients operated on for Cushing's disease, with a mean follow-up of 4.5 years. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Twenty-two patients (17 women) operated on for Cushing's disease with a follow-up >2 years (median, 48; range, 24-141 months) underwent one desmopressin test (10 mug i.v. bolus) 3-6 months postoperatively. Twelve were in remission (R group), five had immediate failure (IF) after surgery and five had late recurrence (LR). RESULTS: Both ACTH and cortisol peaks after desmopressin were significantly lower in the R group than in the LR group (P=0.003 and P=0.013 respectively). The receiver operator characteristic curve method defined an ACTH peak threshold >/=22 pg/ml or ACTH rise >/=35%; cortisol peak >/=350 nmol/l or cortisol rise >/=14%. None of twelve patients in remission had ACTH or cortisol peaks above these thresholds vs three of five patients from the LR group and five of five in the IF group. DISCUSSION: On the basis of ACTH or cortisol peaks respectively, the desmopressin test was predictive of a later recurrence with a positive predictive value of 100% or 80% respectively, and a negative predictive value of 92%. Sensitivity and specificity were 80% and 100% respectively based on ACTH peak, and 80% and 92% respectively based on cortisol peak. CONCLUSION: In this first long-term study, a marked response of ACTH or cortisol to desmopressin was predictive of a later recurrence with good specificity and sensitivity.

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S Krantic, I Goddard, A Saveanu, N Giannetti, J Fombonne, A Cardoso, P Jaquet and A Enjalbert

The first part of this contribution reviews the current knowledge about endocrine and neuromodulatory actions of somatostatin. These biological actions are exerted according to endocrine, paracrine and autocrine modes of action and involve five distinct types of membrane receptors belonging to the 'super-family' of G-protein-coupled receptors.A new concept concerning a juxtacrine mode of action has recently been introduced to refer to the intervention of cytokines and growth factors in direct, cell-to-cell communication. The evidence in favor of juxtacrine actions of somatostatin will be presented in the second part of this review and illustrated by our own results on macrophage-lymphocyte T interactions in the immune system and spermatogonia-Sertoli cell interactions in mammalian testis. Another phenomenon such as ligand-induced somatostatin receptor homo- and hetero-dimerization resulting in 'poly'-receptors (with characteristics different from those of each of the two receptors forming the complex) is also at the origin of a novel mode of somatostatin action. The latter will be illustrated by the data obtained on human pituitary adenomas with somatostatin analogs specific for either 'poly'-receptor or relevant individual receptors.The arguments in favor of the analogous mode of actions among different families of chemical messengers such as peptides, cytokines and growth factors are discussed in the concluding section. The emerging unifying concepts on such functional analogies might provide a useful basis for the development of synthetic analogs not only for bioactive peptides but also for other types of chemical messengers.

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A Saveanu, I Morange-Ramos, G Gunz, H Dufour, A Enjalbert and P Jaquet

OBJECTIVE: Evaluation of the efficiency of somatostatin analogues in the treatment of a mixed luteinizing hormone (LH)-, alpha-subunit-, prolactin (PRL)-secreting pituitary adenoma. DESIGN: A 30-year-old woman, with amenorrhaea-galactorrhaea, presented with a pituitary macroadenoma. The endocrine evaluation showed high plasma levels of PRL, LH, and alpha-subunit inhibited by 65%, 65% and 33% respectively under octreotide test (200 microg, s.c.). Long-term treatment with slow release (SR) lanreotide (30 mg/10 days, i.m.) restored menstrual cycles and normalized PRL values. Due to persisting supranormal levels of LH and alpha-subunit, and to the absence of tumoral shrinkage, the adenoma was resected by the transsphenoidal route. METHODS: In vitro characterization of the somatostatin receptor subtypes (SSTR) expression and functionality. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed to quantify the expression of SSTR mRNAs and functionality of the SSTRs was assessed in cell culture studies with various concentrations of native somatostatin (SRIF-14) and of analogues preferential for SSTR2 or SSTR5. RESULTS: This adenoma presented with high levels of SSTR2, SSTR3 and SSTR5 mRNAs, as compared with a series of gonadotroph adenomas. In cell culture studies, PRL, LH and alpha-subunit were inhibited by 60%, 47% and 33% respectively by SRIF-14 at a concentration of 10 nmol/l. The SSTR2 (BIM-23197, lanreotide) and SSTR5 (BIM-23268) preferential analogues both produced a partial 21-38% inhibition of PRL, LH, and alpha-subunit release. DISCUSSION: In this plurihormonal-secreting adenoma, the high efficacy of somatostatin analogues to inhibit PRL, LH and alpha-subunit secretion in vivo may be explained by the unusually high level of expression and by the functionality of both SSTR2 and SSTR5 receptor subtypes.

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F Castinetti, I Morange, P Jaquet, B Conte-Devolx and T Brue

Context

Although transsphenoidal surgery remains the first-line treatment in Cushing's disease (CD), recurrence is observed in about 20% of cases. Adjunctive treatments each have specific drawbacks. Despite its inhibitory effects on steroidogenesis, the antifungal drug ketoconazole was only evaluated in series with few patients and/or short-term follow-up.

Objective

Analysis of long-term hormonal effects and tolerance of ketoconazole in CD.

Design

A total of 38 patients were retrospectively studied with a mean follow-up of 23 months (6–72).

Setting

All patients were treated at the same Department of Endocrinology in Marseille, France.

Patients

The 38 patients with CD, of whom 17 had previous transsphenoidal surgery.

Intervention

Ketoconazole was begun at 200–400 mg/day and titrated up to 1200 mg/day until biochemical remission.

Main outcome measures

Patients were considered controlled if 24-h urinary free cortisol was normalized.

Results

Five patients stopped ketoconazole during the first week because of clinical or biological intolerance. On an intention to treat basis, 45% of the patients were controlled as were 51% of those treated long term. Initial hormonal levels were not statistically different between patients controlled or uncontrolled. Ketoconazole was similarly efficacious as a primary or postoperative treatment. Among 15 patients without visible adenoma at initial evaluation, subsequent follow-up allowed identification of the lesion in five cases. No adrenal insufficiency was observed. Adverse effects were rare in patients treated long term.

Conclusions

Ketoconazole is a safe and efficacious treatment in CD, particularly in patients for whom surgery is contraindicated, or delayed because of the absence of image of adenoma on magnetic resonance imaging.

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F Castinetti, I Morange, H Dufour, P Jaquet, B Conte-Devolx, N Girard and T Brue

Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)-stimulated petrosal sinus sampling is currently the gold standard method for the differential diagnosis between pituitary and ectopic ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome. Our objective was to determine sensitivity and specificity of desmopressin test during petrosal sinus sampling.

Patients and methods: Forty-three patients had petrosal sinus sampling because of the lack of visible adenoma on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and/or because of discordant cortisol response to high-dose dexamethasone suppression test. ACTH sampling was performed in an antecubital vein, right and left petrosal sinuses, then at each location 5 and 10 min after injection of desmopressin. Diagnosis was based on the ACTH ratio between petrosal sinus and humeral vein ACTH after desmopressin test. Diagnosis was confirmed after surgery. A receiver operating characteristics curve was used to determine optimal sensitivity and specificity.

Results: Thirty-six patients had Cushing’s disease (CD) and seven had ectopic ACTH secretion. A ratio > 2 after desmopressin was found in 35 of the 36 cases of CD (sensitivity: 95%). A ratio ≤ 2 was found in the seven patients with ectopic ACTH secretion (specificity: 100%). Sinus sampling was ineffective in determining the left or right localization of the adenoma (sensitivity = 50%). No major adverse effects were observed during or after the procedure.

Conclusion: Desmopressin test during petrosal sinus sampling is a safe and effective diagnostic procedure in ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome. It thus represents a valuable alternative to CRH.

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F Castinetti, M Nagai, H Dufour, J-M Kuhn, I Morange, P Jaquet, B Conte-Devolx, J Regis and T Brue

Objective: Though transsphenoidal surgery remains the first-line treatment of Cushing’s disease, recurrence occurs frequently. Conventional radiotherapy and anticortisolic drugs both have adverse effects. Stereotactic radiosurgery needs to be evaluated more precisely. The aim of this study was to determine long-term hormonal effects and tolerance of gamma knife (GK) radiosurgery in Cushing’s disease.

Design: Forty patients with Cushing’s disease treated by GK were prospectively studied over a decade, with a mean follow-up of 54.7 months. Eleven of them were treated with GK as a primary treatment.

Methods: Radiosurgery was performed at the Department of Functional Neurosurgery of Marseille, France, using the Leksell Gamma Unit B and C models. Median margin dose was 29.5 Gy. Patients were considered in remission if they had normalized 24-h free urinary cortisol and suppression of plasma cortisol after low-dose dexamethasone suppression test.

Results: Seventeen patients (42.5%) were in remission after a mean of 22 months (range 12–48 months). The two groups did not differ in terms of initial hormonal levels. Target volume was significantly higher in uncured than in remission group (909.8 vs 443 mm3, P = 0.038). We found a significant difference between patients who were on or off anticortisolic drugs at the time of GK (20 vs 48% patients in remission respectively, P = 0.02).

Conclusion: With 42% of patients in remission after a median follow-up of 54 months, GK stereotactic radiosurgery, especially as an adjunctive treatment to surgery, may represent an alternative to other therapeutic options in view of their adverse effects.

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S Vallette-Kasic, H Dufour, M Mugnier, J Trouillas, H Valdes-Socin, P Caron, S Morange, N Girard, F Grisoli, P Jaquet and T Brue

OBJECTIVE: To assess the postsurgical outcome of patients with corticotroph microadenomas and to define predictors of the long-term outcome, with special emphasis on markers of tumor extension. DESIGN: Prospective study of 53 corticotroph microadenomas treated by enlarged adenomectomy. Patients followed for at least 2 years were classified into two groups: those in long-term remission and uncured patients (immediate failures and recurrences). Pre-, per- and postoperative parameters were analyzed as predictors of the long-term outcome. METHODS: Baseline hormone assessments were performed preoperatively, 8 days after surgery and every 6-12 months thereafter. Pituitary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allowed analysis of possible tumor extension to adjacent structures. Apparent completeness of the surgical removal was determined, and fragments labeled either 'tumor' or 'surrounding pituitary tissue' were submitted to serial sectioning. RESULTS: Immediate control of hypercortisolism was achieved in 43/53 patients (81%). However, later recurrences were observed in five patients (9%). Preoperative MRI showed tumor extension into adjacent structures with good specificity (91%) for prediction of surgical failure. Evidence of local invasion at surgery was also significantly predictive of the long-term outcome. A corticotroph adenoma was found at histological examination in 96% of the patients, and 26% had irregular limits, a feature significantly correlated with a poor outcome. Immediate postoperative plasma cortisol did not allow discrimination between long-term remissions and recurrences. CONCLUSION: Surgical failure was best predicted by signs of tumor 'invasiveness' at MRI, confirmed by peroperative examination and histology.