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M Wasniewska, T Arrigo, M Cisternino, F De Luca, L Ghizzoni, M Maghnie and M Valenzise

OBJECTIVE: To investigate which pretreatment variables most significantly affect long-term growth response to GH therapy in children with apparently idiopathic GH deficiency (GHD) treated from a similar and very young age (less than 2 years), for the same period (7 years) and with the same therapeutic protocol. DESIGN AND METHODS: Twelve children with either isolated GHD or multiple pituitary hormone deficiency were treated with biosynthetic human GH (0.7IU/kg per week) and were examined every 6 months. Height measurements were performed by Harpenden stadiometers. Bone age was evaluated every 12 months. RESULTS: The onset of therapy was followed in all patients by an important height gain, which attained its zenith during the first year of treatment and became progressively less evident during the next 4 years. Cumulative height gain was 3.0+/-1.7SDS. Thanks to the therapy, at the end of the 7-year treatment period, average height in the entire series was not significantly far from mean target height (TH) (-0.7+/-1.3 vs -0. 3+/-0.4SDS) and average predicted height (PH) (-0.2+/-1.4SDS) was very close to TH. A stepwise regression analysis showed that both catch-up growth under therapy and PH at the end of the 7-year treatment period were positively influenced by birth weight (BW). CONCLUSIONS: a) Our 7-year prospective study on GHD infants treated with GH from less than 2 years of age confirmed the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of GHD in childhood. b) The influence of BW on growth response to GH therapy in GHD children persists over time, at least when treatment is begun from less than 2 years of age.

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T Arrigo, F De Luca, M Maghnie, A Blandino, F Lombardo, MF Messina, M Wasniewska, L Ghizzoni and M Bozzola

In this study, perinatal history, postnatal auxological and clinical evolution and endocrine features were retrospectively evaluated in 49 children, adolescents and young adults with apparently idiopathic hypopituitarism. They were divided into two groups according to magnetic resonance images: 32 patients with isolated pituitary hypoplasia (group A) and 17 with pituitary stalk interruption syndrome (group B). The aim of the study was to assess whether these neuroradiological pictures are associated with specific endocrine and clinical patterns. No significant difference in terms of gestational age, intrauterine growth and rates of adverse perinatal events was found between the two groups. Clinical signs documenting the existence of pituitary dysfunction in utero or shortly after birth were either slightly (micropenis, cryptorchidism, cholestatic jaundice) or significantly (hypoglycemia) more frequent in patients in group B. Although diagnosis of hypopituitarism was made significantly earlier in patients in group B, height deficiency at diagnosis was similar in both groups. Endocrine investigations revealed a more severe and widespread impairment of pituitary function among those in group B. The main conclusion is that the postnatal clinical course is more severe when growth hormone deficiency is associated with pituitary stalk interruption syndrome than when the pituitary is only reduced in height, probably because of the more severe and widespread impairment of pituitary function in the former cases.

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T Arrigo, F De Luca, F Antoniazzi, F Galluzzi, M Segni, M Rosano, MF Messina and F Lombardo

OBJECTIVE: To investigate longitudinally body mass index (BMI) evolution and obesity prevalence in a large and very homogeneous study population consisting only of girls with non-organic central precocious puberty (CPP) who were treated with gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) for at least two years. PATIENTS AND DESIGN: The 101 girls with idiopathic CPP who were selected for this study fulfilled the following inclusion criteria: (a) suppression of gonadotropin and gonadal sex steroid secretion during the overall GnRHa treatment period; (b) adequate compliance with the therapy regimen. All the girls were treated for 44+/-14 months and were followed-up for 15.7+/-7.8 months after therapy withdrawal. RESULTS: At the start of therapy, 23.8% of the girls had a BMI exceeding 2 standard deviation scores (SDS) and were therefore classified as obese; both average BMI-SDS and obesity prevalence significantly decreased during the treatment period (chi(2)=16.6, P<0.0005) and only 4% of the patients, all with pre-existing obesity, were still obese at the end of therapy; during the therapy period, BMI-SDS increased in none of the patients. Both average BMI-SDS and obesity prevalence (from 4 to 0%; chi(2)=4.0, P<0.05) further decreased during the period that followed therapy withdrawal. CONCLUSIONS: (a) girls with idiopathic CPP are frequently obese at the onset of GnRHa therapy (23.8%), probably due to the hormonal changes which accompany the start of puberty; (b) their obesity is neither long-lasting nor related to GnRHa administration; (c) on the contrary, GnRHa therapy may have a favourable effect on BMI decrease, provided that treatment is performed for at least two years and is accompanied by a complete suppression of gonadotropin secretion; (d) this unexpected effect, which has never been reported hitherto, might represent a further indication for GnRHa administration in idiopathic CPP.

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F Lombardo, F De Luca, M Rosano, C Sferlazzas, C Lucanto, T Arrigo, MF Messina, G Crisafulli, M Wasniewska, M Valenzise and D Cucinotta

OBJECTIVE: The loss of pancreatic beta-cells is thought to be one of the principal causes of diabetes mellitus (DM) in cystic fibrosis (CF), but the role of peripheral insulin resistance (IR) in the pathogenesis of DM in CF remains unclear. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether eventual changes of glucose tolerance (GT) over time were associated with modifications of insulin secretion or sensitivity. METHODS: Plasma glucose and insulin responses to an oral GT test (OGTT) were investigated and reinvestigated 13 Years later in 14 CF patients with initial and persistent fasting euglycemia and no history of insulin treatment. Insulin sensitivity (IS) at both tests was assessed on the basis of insulin and glucose levels both in the fasting state and during OGTTs. RESULTS: From the 1st to the 2nd OGTT: (a) the prevalence of DM responses significantly increased; (b) the areas beneath the respective glucose and insulin curves significantly increased and decreased respectively; (c) IR and IS indices decreased and increased respectively, even in the patients who developed DM; (d) pulmonary function significantly worsened in the entire series, especially in the patients who developed DM. CONCLUSIONS: (i) the natural history of glyco-metabolic status in CF is characterized by deteriorating GT over time; (ii) insulinopenia plays a prominent role in the pathogenesis of GT worsening; (iii) IR does not play any significant part in the pathogenesis of DM development; (iv) deterioration of lung function tests is more severe in the subjects who develop DM over time.

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T Arrigo, M Cisternino, F Galluzzi, S Bertelloni, AM Pasquino, F Antoniazzi, P Borrelli, G Crisafulli, M Wasniewska and F De Luca

The aim of this retrospective study was to analyze the factors which affected the auxological response to GnRH agonist treatment and the final height (FH) outcome in 71 girls with idiopathic and truly precocious (onset before 8 years) central puberty (CTPP) who had been treated with the same therapy protocol (Decapeptyl Depot, 60 microg/kg i.m. every 28 days) for at least 2 years (since 7.0+/-1. 3 (S.D.) years of age) and followed until puberty was completed and FH was reached. During the entire treatment period we observed: (a) a decrease of height standard deviation scores (SDS) (from 1.5+/-1.7 to 0.9+/-1.3 SDS, P<0.01); (b) a striking deceleration of bone age (BA), revealed by the subnormal DeltaBA:Deltachronological age (CA) ratio (0.2+/-0.1); (c) an increase of predicted adult height (from 155.6+/-7.0 to 160.7+/-6.7 cm, P<0.0005). Treatment interruption was followed by an important catch-down growth, with an FH (158.4+/-5.8 cm) lower (P<0.025) than that predicted at the end of therapy. However, FH fell within the population norm and the target range in respectively 87.3 and 90% of the patients. The tallest FH was recorded in the patients who started therapy at less than 6 years of age and in those who discontinued treatment at a BA of 12.0--12.5 years. At stepwise regression analysis, FH in the whole study population was positively affected by the following independent factors: (a) height at the end of therapy (F=45.45, P<0.0001); (b) pretreatment height (F=13.91, P<0.0005); (c) treatment duration (F=8. 51, P<0.005); (d) target height (TH) (F=7.70, P<0.01). We conclude that: (i) most girls with idiopathic CTPP treated by GnRH agonists may achieve an adult height within the population norm and/or their target range; (ii) the height gain from therapy onset until FH attainment, however, is generally rather limited (on average 2.9 cm) and only few patients are able to reach their target percentile; (iii) the most favorable height prognosis with respect to TH is generally observed in the subjects with the tallest height at the end of treatment and the lowest BA2:CA2 ratio, due to the important deterioration of height prognosis which frequently follows therapy interruption; (iv) FH is also significantly conditioned by both TH and treatment duration; (v) in order to strengthen the weak therapeutic effect of GnRH agonists in CTPP this treatment should be started as early as possible and discontinued at a BA of 12.0--12.5 years.

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M Wasniewska, F De Luca, A Cassio, N Oggiaro, P Gianino, M Delvecchio, R Aiazzi, V Stoppioni, F Lombardo, MF Messina, M Valenzise and T Arrigo

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate in a cohort of infants with congenital hypothyroidism (CH): (a) the frequency of bone maturation (BM) retardation at birth and (b) whether BM delay at birth may be considered as a tool to make a prognosis of psychomotor status at the age of 1 Year, irrespective of other variables related to treatment. DESIGN: BM at birth, CH severity and developmental quotient (DQ) at the age of 1 Year were retrospectively evaluated in 192 CH infants selected by the following inclusion criteria: (a) gestation age ranging between 38 and 42 weeks; (b) onset of therapy within the first Month of life; (c) initial thyroxine (l-T(4)) dosage ranging from 10 to 12 microg/kg/day; (d) normalization of serum thyrotropin (TSH) levels before the age of 3 Months; (e) Monthly adjustments of l-T(4) dose during the first Year of life with serum TSH levels ranging from 0.5 to 4 mIU/l; (f) no major diseases and/or physical handicaps associated with CH; (g) availability of both thyroid scanning and knee X-rays at the time of treatment initiation; (h) availability of DQ assessment at an average age of 12 Months. METHODS: BM was considered normal if the distal femur bony nucleus diameter exceeded 3 mm (group A) or retarded if either this nucleus was absent (subgroup B1) or its diameter was <3 mm (subgroup B2). DQ was evaluated with the Brunet-Lezine test. RESULTS: In 44.3% of cases BM was either delayed (23.5%) or severely delayed (20.8%). The risk of BM retardation was higher in the patients with athyreosis than in the remaining patients (41/57 vs 44/135, chi(2)=25.13, P<0.005). BM-retarded infants showed a more severe biochemical picture of CH at birth and a lower DQ at the age of one Year compared with the group A patients. If compared with infants of subgroup B2 those of subgroup B1 exhibited significantly lower T(4) levels at birth and a more frequent association with athyreosis (70.0 vs 30.0%; chi(2)=7.49, P<0.01), whereas DQ was superimposable in both subgroups. CONCLUSIONS: (a) BM at birth is delayed in almost half of CH patients and (b) CH severity per se can affect DQ at the age of 1 Year irrespective of other variables related to therapy.