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A Colao, G Vitale, R Pivonello, A Ciccarelli, C Di Somma and G Lombardi

Several experimental and clinical studies have indicate that the heart is an end-organ of GH action. Patients with either childhood- or adulthood-onset GH deficiency (GHD) have abnormalities of cardiac structure and function, such as reduced cardiac mass, impaired diastolic filling and reduced left ventricular response at peak exercise. These cardiovascular abnormalities can be reversed, at least partially, after GH replacement therapy. On the other hand, the chronic overproduction of GH and IGF-I in acromegaly leads to the development of a specific cardiomyopathy. Concentric cardiac hypertrophy occurs in more than two-thirds of patients at diagnosis and is commonly associated with diastolic dysfunction. In later stages, impaired systolic function ending in heart failure can occur if GH/IGF-I excess is not controlled. Additionally, acromegalic cardiomyopathy is complicated by abnormalities of cardiac rhythm and cardiac valves. Successful control of acromegaly is accompanied by a decrease of the left ventricular mass and improvement of cardiac function. These beneficial effects appear earlier in young patients with short disease duration than in elderly patients. In conclusion, GH and IGF-I play a main role in the regulation of cardiac development and performance.

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A Colao, R Pivonello, S Lastoria, A Faggiano, D Ferone, G Lombardi and G Fenzi

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D Ferone, PM van Hagen, R Pivonello, A Colao, SW Lamberts and LJ Hofland

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A Colao, A Faggiano, R Pivonello, FP Giraldi, F Cavagnini and G Lombardi

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of inferior petrosal sinus sampling (IPSS) in the differential diagnosis of ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome as compared with pituitary imaging techniques. DESIGN AND METHODS: We retrospectively studied the diagnostic accuracy of basal and post corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) IPSS, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography in distinguishing pituitary from ectopic ACTH secretion in 97 Cushing's syndrome patients: 74 with Cushing's disease (CD) and 10 with ectopic ACTH secretion (EAS). Thirteen patients were excluded because of unconfirmed diagnosis. The difference between IPSS and pituitary imaging techniques in the correctly localized pituitary adenoma in the patients with CD was also investigated. RESULTS: The basal ACTH inferior petrosal sinus:periphery (IPS:P) ratio was > or = 2 in 63/74 patients with CD (85%), and in 1/10 EAS patients (10%); after stimulation with CRH, the ratio was > or = 3 in 60/68 patients with CD (88%) and < 3 in all patients with EAS. The basal and post-CRH ACTH IPS:P ratios had a diagnostic accuracy of 86% and 90% respectively. The diagnostic accuracy of IPSS with both ratios was significantly higher than magnetic resonance imaging (50%) and computed tomography (40%). The IPS:P ratio suggested by receiver-operator characteristic (ROC) analysis that better distinguished CD from EAS was 2.10 for the basal and 2.15 for the post-CRH ratios. Using these cut-offs, the specificity of basal ratio and the sensitivity of the post-CRH test rose to 100% and 93% respectively. Diagnostic accuracy remained substantially unchanged for the basal ratio (87% vs 86%), while it rose from 90% to 94% for the post-CRH ratio. The sensitivity of IPSS was significantly higher than that of magnetic resonance and computerized tomography. IPSS was less reliable in identifying the adenoma site found at surgery than magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography (65% vs 75% and 79% respectively). CONCLUSION: In conclusion, IPSS improved the diagnostic performance of imaging techniques. It can help in excluding transsphenoidal surgery in EAS patients. More striking results were obtained when a > or = 2.1:1 basal ratio or a > or = 2.15:1 post-CRH ratio were considered as criteria to distinguish between patients with CD and EAS. To establish correctly the location of the pituitary adenoma, IPSS is less reliable than imaging techniques.

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A Colao, S Cannavo, P Marzullo, R Pivonello, S Squadrito, G Vallone, B Almoto, E Bichisao, F Trimarchi and G Lombardi

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the role of age, gender, duration and control of acromegaly on the reversibility of arthropathy. PATIENTS AND DESIGN: 30 de novo patients with active acromegaly, 30 cured patients and 30 healthy subjects were studied in a tranverse and an open longitudinal study design. METHODS: Shoulder, wrist and knee thickening was measured by ultrasonography at study entry in all 90 subjects and after 12 Months of treatment with octreotide-LAR (OCT-LAR) at a dose of 10-40 mg every 28 days in the 30 de novo patients. RESULTS: Thickness at all joint sites was greater in the active than in the cured patients and controls (P<0.001), and was greater in the cured patients than in the controls (P<0.001). There was no gender difference, but joint thickness was less in the patients with disease duration >10 Years. Age significantly correlated with wrist (r=-0.55; P<0.001), right knee (r=-0.45; P=0.01), and left knee thickness (r=-0.42; P=0.02) in patients with active disease, and with wrist thickness (r=0.88; P<0.0001) in controls. Twelve Months of OCT-LAR treatment led to disease control in 18 patients (60%). There was a decrease in the thickness of the shoulder (15.1+/-3.2%), wrist (20.5+/-3.1%), right knee (22.2+/-3.4%) and left knee (18.2+/-2.8%) in all patients but the reduction in joint thickness at all sites was greater in the patients with controlled disease after OCT-LAR treatment than in the uncontrolled patients (P<0.01). Shoulder and right knee thickening normalized in respectively 11 (61.1%) and 16 (88.9%) well-controlled patients. CONCLUSIONS: Growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) suppression by 12 Months' OCT-LAR treatment is accompanied by a significant decrease in the thickness of both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing joints (mainly in patients whose disease is controlled) regardless of disease duration. These findings suggest that tIssue hypertrophy in the context of the acromegalic arthropathy can be improved by suppressing IGF-I levels.

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A Colao, S Spiezia, C Di Somma, P Marzullo, G Cerbone, R Pivonello, A Faggiano and G Lombardi

BACKGROUND: The role of IGF-I in prostate development is currently under thorough investigation since it has been claimed that IGF-I is a positive predictor of prostate cancer. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of chronic GH and IGF-I deficiency alone or associated with testosterone deficiency on prostate pathophysiology in a series of patients with hypopituitarism. DESIGN: Pituitary, androgen and prostate hormonal assessments and transrectal prostate ultrasonography (TRUS) were performed in 30 men with adulthood onset GH deficiency (GHD) and 30 age-matched healthy controls, free from previous or concomitant prostate disorders. RESULTS: Plasma IGF-I levels were significantly lower in GHD patients than in controls (Pearson's coefficient P<0.0001). At study entry, 6 of the 13 hypogonadal patients and 7 of the 17 eugonadal patients had plasma IGF-I below the age-adjusted normal range. At study entry, testosterone levels were low in 13 patients (mean +/-s.e.m., 3.8+/-1.0 nmol/l) while they were normal in the remaining 17 (19.4+/-1.4 nmol/l). No difference in prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and PSA density was found between GHD patients (either hypo- or eugonadal) and controls, while free PSA levels were significantly higher in eugonadal GHD than in controls (0.4+/-0.04 vs 0.2+/-0.03 microg/l; P<0.01). No difference in antero-posterior prostate diameter and transitional zone volume (TZV) was observed among groups, while both transverse and cranio-caudal diameters were significantly lower in hypogonadal (P<0.01) and eugonadal GHD patients (P<0.05) than in controls. Prostate volume (PV) was significantly lower in hypogonadal GHD patients (18.2+/-3.0 ml) and eugonadal GHD patients (22.3+/-1.6 ml), than in controls (25.7+/-1.4, P<0.05). The prevalence of prostate hyperplasia (PV>30 ml) was significantly lower in hypogonadal and eugonadal GHD patients, without any difference between them (15.3% and 5.8%), than in controls (43.3%) (chi(2)=6.90, P=0.005). No difference was found in PV between patients with normal or deficient IGF-I levels both in the hypogonadal group (19. 9+/-4.7 vs 17.3+/-4.0 ml) and in the eugonadal group (22.6+/-2.3 vs 21.8+/-2.5 ml). When controls and patients were divided according to age (<60 years and >60 years), PV was significantly lower in hypogonadal GHD patients aged below 60 years than in age-matched controls (P<0.01) or eugonadal GHD patients (P<0.01), without any difference between controls and eugonadal GHD patients. Controls aged above 60 years had significantly higher PV than both hypogonadal and eugonadal GHD patients (P<0.01). Calcifications, cysts or nodules were found in 56.7% of patients and in 50% of controls (chi(2)=0.067, P=0.79). In controls, but not in GHD patients, PV and TZV were correlated with age (r=0.82, r=0.46, P<0. 0001 and P<0.01 respectively). PV was also correlated with GH (r=-0. 52, P=0.0026), IGF-I (r=-0.62, P=0.0002) and IGF-binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) levels (r=-0.39, P=0.032) but neither with testosterone or dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels. In GHD patients TZV but not PV was correlated with age (r=0.58, P=0.0007) and neither TZV nor PV were correlated with GH, IGF-I or IGFBP-3 levels. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic GH deficiency in adulthood causes a decrease in prostate size, mostly in patients with concomitant androgen deficiency and age below 60 years, without significant changes in the prevalence of structural prostate abnormalities.

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A Colao, AD Sarno, P Cappabianca, F Briganti, R Pivonello, CD Somma, A Faggiano, B Biondi and G Lombardi

BACKGROUND: Gender differences in tumor size are supposed to exist in hyperprolactinemia since microadenomas are more commonly found in women and macroadenomas in men. Whether this reflects only a delay in diagnosis in men or a true gender difference in tumor pathogenesis is still unclear. OBJECTIVE: To prospectively analyze gender differences in the presentation and response to cabergoline treatment in 219 consecutive newly diagnosed patients with hyperprolactinemia. DESIGN: An open prospective design. SUBJECTS: Of the 219 patients of which 145 were women; 107 patients had macroprolactinoma, 97 had microprolactinoma, and 15 had non-tumoral hyperprolactinemia. METHODS: Presenting clinical symptoms, prolactin levels and tumor size at magnetic resonance imaging were measured before and 3-6 Months after cabergoline therapy. RESULTS: Prevalence of microprolactinomas (56% vs 22%, P=<0.0001) and non-tumoral hyperprolactinemia (10% vs 0%, P=0.01) was higher in women than in men. Men and women were of similar age (median 32 vs 29 Years; P=0.2) and a similar number had gonadal/sexual dysfunction (85 vs 83%, P=0.6); weight gain (70 vs 46%; P=<0.0001) and galactorrhea (52 vs 19%; P=<0.0001) were more common in women. Prolactin levels were higher in men than in women, whether exhibiting macro- (2848+/-2954 vs 1132+/-2351 microg/l, P=<0.0001) or microadenomas (187.8+/-51.8 vs 135.4+/-60.5 microg/l, P=0.009) and the size of the adenoma was larger in men than in women irrespective of macro- (25.8+/-12.4 vs 17.2+/-7.2 mm, P=<0.0001) or microadenoma diagnosis (8.0+/-1.4 vs 7.1+/-1.6 mm, P=0.04). After treatment, prolactin levels decreased by 89.2-96.4% in all groups, and normalized more frequently in micro- than in macroadenoma patients (86 vs 64%, P<0.0001), regardless of gender (70% vs 69%, P=0.9). Menses resumed in 82% of women, libido disturbances improved in 57% of men. Tumor size was reduced by 45+/-25% and 52+/-24% in macroprolactinoma patients and by 44+/-31 and 38+/-29% in microprolactinoma patients in women and men respectively. Visual field defects disappeared in 61% of women and in 71% of men (P=0.6). CONCLUSIONS: Prevalence of macroprolactinomas was similar in men and women; microprolactinomas and non-tumoral hyperprolactinemia were more frequent in women. Clinical symptoms at presentation differed according to gender, with galactorrhea and weight gain more frequent in women. The successful response to cabergoline treatment for 6 Months was higher in micro- than in macroprolactinoma patients and was similar in women and men.

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S M Webb, X Badia, M J Barahona, A Colao, C J Strasburger, A Tabarin, M O van Aken, R Pivonello, G Stalla, S W J Lamberts and J E Glusman

Chronic exposure to hypercortisolism has significant impact on patient's health and health-related quality of life (HRQoL), as demonstrated with generic questionnaires. We have developed a disease-generated questionnaire to evaluate HRQoL in patients with Cushing's syndrome (CS; CushingQoL).

Objective

Validate the CushingQoL questionnaire in patients with CS in clinical practice conditions.

Design

Observational, international, cross-sectional study.

Methods

A total of 125 patients were recruited by 14 investigators from Spain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Italy over a 2-month period. Clinical and hormonal data were collected and correlated with results of the generic short form 36 (SF-36) questionnaire, a question on self-perceived general health status and the CushingQoL score.

Results

A total of 107 patients were pituitary-dependent and 18 adrenal-dependent CS; 104 (83%) were females, mean age 45 years (range 20–73 years); 39 (31%) were currently hypercortisolemic; and 47 (38%) adrenal insufficient. In clinical practice, CushingQoL was feasible (117; 94% of patients fully responded to the questionnaire in a mean time of 4 min), reliable (Crohnbach's α=0.87), and valid (factorial analysis demonstrated unidimensionality and Rasch analysis lead to a final version with 12 items). A significant (P<0.001) correlation was observed between CushingQoL score and patients self-perceived general health status and dimensions of SF-36 (Pearson's correlation coefficient ≥0.597). Patients with current hypercortisolism scored worse (lower) than those without (44±22 vs 56±21, P=0.004). Linear regression analysis identified female gender and hypercortisolism as significant predictors for worse QoL.

Conclusion

CushingQoL is useful to evaluate HRQoL in patients with CS and correlates with clinical parameters.

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M Arosio, G Reimondo, E Malchiodi, P Berchialla, A Borraccino, L De Marinis, R Pivonello, S Grottoli, M Losa, S Cannavò, F Minuto, M Montini, M Bondanelli, E De Menis, C Martini, G Angeletti, A Velardo, A Peri, M Faustini-Fustini, P Tita, F Pigliaru, G Borretta, C Scaroni, N Bazzoni, A Bianchi, M Appetecchia, F Cavagnini, G Lombardi, E Ghigo, P Beck-Peccoz, A Colao, M Terzolo and for the Italian Study Group of Acromegaly

Objective

To describe demographic and hormonal characteristics, comorbidities (diabetes mellitus and hypertension), therapeutic procedures and their effectiveness, as well as predictors of morbidity and mortality in a nationwide survey of Italian acromegalic patients.

Design

Retrospective multicenter epidemiological study endorsed by the Italian Society of Endocrinology and performed in 24 tertiary referral Italian centers. The mean follow-up time was 120 months.

Results

A total of 1512 patients, 41% male, mean age: 45±13 years, mean GH: 31±37 μg/l, IGF1: 744±318 ng/ml, were included. Diabetes mellitus was reported in 16% of cases and hypertension in 33%. Older age and higher IGF1 levels at diagnosis were significant predictors of diabetes and hypertension. At the last follow-up, 65% of patients had a controlled disease, of whom 55% were off medical therapy. Observed deaths were 61, with a standardized mortality ratio of 1.13 95% (confidence interval (CI): 0.87–1.46). Mortality was significantly higher in the patients with persistently active disease (1.93; 95% CI: 1.34–2.70). Main causes of death were vascular diseases and malignancies with similar prevalence. A multivariate analysis showed that older age, higher GH at the last follow-up, higher IGF1 levels at diagnosis, malignancy, and radiotherapy were independent predictors of mortality.

Conclusions

Pretreatment IGF1 levels are important predictors of morbidity and mortality in acromegaly. The full hormonal control of the disease, nowadays reached in the majority of patients with modern management, reduces greatly the disease-related mortality.