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Open access

Kristine Zøylner Swan, Steen Joop Bonnema, Marie Louise Jespersen and Viveque Egsgaard Nielsen

Thyroid nodular disease is common, but predicting the risk of malignancy can be difficult. In this prospective study, we aimed to assess the diagnostic accuracy of shear wave elastography (SWE) in predicting thyroid malignancy. Patients with thyroid nodules were enrolled from a surgical tertiary unit. Elasticity index (EI) measured by SWE was registered for seven EI outcomes assessing nodular stiffness and heterogeneity. The diagnosis was determined histologically. In total, 329 patients (mean age: 55 ± 13 years) with 413 thyroid nodules (mean size: 32 ± 13 mm, 88 malignant) were enrolled. Values of SWE region of interest (ROI) for malignant and benign nodules were highly overlapping (ranges for SWE-ROImean: malignant 3–100 kPa; benign 4–182 kPa), and no difference between malignant and benign nodules was found for any other EI outcome investigated (P = 0.13–0.96). There was no association between EI and the histological diagnosis by receiver operating characteristics analysis (area under the curve: 0.51–0.56). Consequently, defining a cut-off point of EI for the prediction of malignancy was not clinically meaningful. Testing our data on previously proposed cut-off points revealed a low accuracy of SWE (56–80%). By regression analysis, factors affecting EI included nodule size >30 mm, heterogeneous echogenicity, micro- or macrocalcifications and solitary nodule. In conclusion, EI, measured by SWE, showed huge overlap between malignant and benign nodules, and low diagnostic accuracy in the prediction of thyroid malignancy. Our study supports that firmness of thyroid nodules, as assessed by SWE, should not be a key feature in the evaluation of such lesions.

Open access

Sara Storvall, Helena Leijon, Eeva Ryhänen, Johanna Louhimo, Caj Haglund, Camilla Schalin-Jäntti and Johanna Arola

Introduction

Parathyroid carcinoma represents a rare cause of primary hyperparathyroidism. Distinguishing carcinoma from the benign tumors underlying primary hyperparathyroidism remains challenging. The diagnostic criteria for parathyroid carcinoma are local and/or metastatic spreading. Atypical parathyroid adenomas share other histological features with carcinomas but lack invasive growth. Somatostatin receptors are commonly expressed in different neuroendocrine tumors, but whether this also holds for parathyroid tumors remains unknown.

Aim

Our aim is to examine the immunohistochemical expression of somatostatin receptor 1–5 in parathyroid typical adenomas, atypical adenomas and carcinomas.

Methods

We used a tissue microarray construct from a nationwide cohort of parathyroid carcinomas (n = 32), age- and gender-matched typical parathyroid adenomas (n = 72) and atypical parathyroid adenomas (n = 27) for immunohistochemistry of somatostatin receptor subtypes 1–5. We separately assessed cytoplasmic, membrane and nuclear expression and also investigated the associations with histological, biochemical and clinical characteristics.

Results

All parathyroid tumor subgroups expressed somatostatin receptors, although membrane expression appeared negligible. Except for somatostatin receptor 1, expression patterns differed between the three tumor types. Adenomas exhibited the weakest and carcinomas the strongest expression of somatostatin receptor 2, 3, 4 and 5. We observed the largest difference for cytoplasmic somatostatin receptor 5 expression.

Conclusions

Parathyroid adenomas, atypical adenomas and carcinomas all express somatostatin receptor subtypes 1–5. Somatostatin receptor 5 may serve as a potential tumor marker for malignancy. Studies exploring the role of somatostatin receptor imaging and receptor-specific therapies in patients with parathyroid carcinomas are needed.

Open access

Boni Xiang, Ran Tao, Xinhua Liu, Xiaoming Zhu, Min He, Zengyi Ma, Yehong Yang, Zhaoyun Zhang, Yiming Li, Zhenwei Yao, Yongfei Wang and Hongying Ye

Objective

The aim of this study was to evaluate thyroid functions in Cushing’s syndrome (CS), the dynamic changes of thyroid hormones and antithyroid antibodies in Cushing’s disease (CD) pre- and postoperatively.

Design and methods

This is a retrospective study enrolling 118 patients with CS (102 CD, 10 adrenal CS and 6 ectopic adrenocorticotropic syndrome (EAS)). Thyroid functions (thyroid-stimulation hormone (TSH), T3, free T3 (FT3), T4 and free T4 (FT4)) were measured in all CS at the time of diagnosis and in all CD 3 months after transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection. Postoperative hormone monitoring within 3 months was conducted in 9 CD patients completing remission. Twenty-eight remitted CD patients experienced hormone and antithyroid antibody evaluation preoperatively and on the 3rd, 6th and 12th month after surgery.

Results

TSH, T3 and FT3 were below the reference range in 31%, 69% and 44% of the 118 CS patients. Remitted CD patients (81/102) had significantly higher TSH (P = 0.000), T3 (P = 0.000) and FT3 (P = 0.000) than those in the non-remission group (21/102). After remission of CD, TSH, T3 and FT3 showed a significant increase, with a few cases above the reference range. By 12 months, most CD patients’ thyroid functions returned to normal. Thyroid hormones (including TSH, T3 and FT3) were negatively associated with serum cortisol levels both before and after surgery. No significant changes of antithyroid autoantibodies were observed.

Conclusions

TSH, T3 and FT3 are suppressed in endogenous hypercortisolemia. After remission of CD, TSH, T3 and FT3 increased significantly, even above the reference range, but returned to normal 1 year after surgery in most cases. Antithyroid antibodies did not change significantly after remission of CD.

Open access

Jingya Zhou, Meng Zhang, Lin Lu, Xiaopeng Guo, Lu Gao, Weigang Yan, Haiyu Pang, Yi Wang and Bing Xing

Objective

To investigate the validity of discharge ICD-10 codes in detecting the etiology of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in hospitalized patients.

Methods

We evaluated the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of CS etiology-related ICD-10 codes or code combinations by comparing hospital discharge administrative data (DAD) with established diagnoses from medical records.

Results

Coding for patients with adrenocortical adenoma (ACA) and those with bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia (BMAH) demonstrated disappointingly low sensitivity at 78.8% (95% CI: 70.1–85.6%) and 83.9% (95% CI: 65.5–93.9%), respectively. BMAH had the lowest PPV of 74.3% (95% CI: 56.4–86.9%). In confirmed ACA patients, the sensitivity for ACA code combinations was higher in patients initially admitted to the Department of Endocrinology before surgery than that in patients directly admitted to the Department of Urology (90.0 vs 73.1%, P = 0.033). The same phenomenon was observed in the PPV for the BMAH code (100.0 vs 60.9%, P = 0.012). Misinterpreted or confusing situations caused by coders (68.1%) and by the omission or denormalized documentation of symptomatic diagnosis by clinicians (26.1%) accounted for the main source of coding errors.

Conclusions

Hospital DAD is an effective data source for evaluating the etiology of CS but not ACA and BMAH. Improving surgeons’ documentation, especially in the delineation of symptomatic and locative diagnoses in discharge abstracts; department- or disease-specific training for coders and more multidisciplinary collaboration are ways to enhance the applicability of administrative data for CS etiologies.

Open access

Qi Che, Xirong Xiao, Jun Xu, Miao Liu, Yongning Lu, Suying Liu and Xi Dong

Accumulating evidence revealed that the leading risk factor of endometrial cancer is exposure to endogenous and exogenous estrogens, while the exact mechanism underlying estrogen contribution to endometrial cancer progression has not been elucidated clearly. Interleukin (IL)-6 has been verified to be critical for tumor progression in several human cancers. In this study, we provided evidence that 17β-estradiol (E2) could significantly promote endometrial cancer cells viability, migration and invasion through activation of IL-6 pathway, which involved in its downstream pathway and target genes (p-Stat3, Bcl-2, Mcl-1, cyclin D1 and MMP2). Meanwhile, utilization of IL-6-neutralizing antibody could partially attenuate the increased cancer growth and invasion abilities in Ishikawa and RL95-2 endometrial cancer cell lines and an orthotopic endometrial cancer model. We established a causative link between estrogen and IL-6 signaling activation in the development of endometrial cancer. The molecular mechanism defined in this study provided the evidence that E2 promotes endometrial carcinoma progression via activating the IL-6 pathway, indicating that interruption of IL-6 might be an essential therapeutic strategy in estrogen-dependent endometrial cancer.

Open access

Tatiana V Novoselova, Peter J King, Leonardo Guasti, Louise A Metherell, Adrian J L Clark and Li F Chan

The melanocortin-2-receptor (MC2R), also known as the ACTH receptor, is a critical component of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. The importance of MC2R in adrenal physiology is exemplified by the condition familial glucocorticoid deficiency (FGD), a potentially fatal disease characterised by isolated cortisol deficiency. MC2R mutations cause ~25% of cases. The discovery of a MC2R accessory protein MRAP, mutations of which account for ~20% of FGD, has provided insight into MC2R trafficking and signalling. MRAP is a single transmembrane domain accessory protein highly expressed in the adrenal gland and essential for MC2R expression and function. Mouse models helped elucidate the action of ACTH. The Mc2r-knockout (Mc2r / ) mice was the first mouse model developed to have adrenal insufficiency with deficiencies in glucocorticoid, mineralocorticoid and catecholamines. We recently reported the generation of the Mrap / mice which better mimics the human FGD phenotype with isolated glucocorticoid deficiency alone. The adrenal glands of adult Mrap / mice were grossly dysmorphic with a thickened capsule, deranged zonation and deranged WNT4/beta-catenin and sonic hedgehog (SHH) pathway signalling. Collectively, these mouse models of FGD highlight the importance of ACTH and MRAP in adrenal progenitor cell regulation, cortex maintenance and zonation.

Open access

Masafumi Tetsuka and Misato Tanakadate

The bovine cumulus-oocyte complex (COC) is capable of converting cortisone, an inert glucocorticoid to active cortisol. This mechanism is mediated by 11β-hydroxysteroid oxidoreductase type 1 (HSD11B1), whose expression dramatically increases in the mature COC. In this study, we investigate the time course expression of HSD11B1 and the enzyme activity in the bovine COC undergoing maturation and fertilization in relation to key events taking place in the COC. Bovine COCs were subjected to in vitro maturation (IVM) and fertilization (IVF). The activities of HSD11B1 and HSD11B2, which mediates the opposite reaction, were measured using a radiometric conversion assay. In parallel studies, cumulus expansion, P4 production and the expression of genes associated with ovulation were measured. The reductive activity of HSD11B1 increased in the latter half of IVM and remained high during IVF, whereas the oxidative activity of HSD11B2 remained unchanged over both periods. Consequently, the net glucocorticoid metabolism in the bovine COC shifted from inactivation to activation around the time of ovulation and fertilization. The increase in HSD11B1 expression lagged behind that of P4 increase and cumulus expansion but ahead of the expressions of genes responsible for PGE2 synthesis. The reductive activity of HSD11B1 was well correlated with the cumulus expansion rate. This outcome indicates that the ability of the cumulus to activate glucocorticoids is related to its ability to synthesize hyaluronan. These results also indicate that the activation of HSD11B1 is an integral part of the sequential events taking place at the ovulation and fertilization in the bovine COC.

Open access

Mengxue Yang, Bowen Sun, Jianhui Li, Bo Yang, Jie Xu, Xue Zhou, Jie Yu, Xuan Zhang, Qun Zhang, Shan Zhou and Xiaohua Sun

Objectives

The pathogenesis of Graves’ disease (GD) remains unclear. In terms of environmental factors, GD development may be associated with chronic inflammation caused by alteration of the intestinal flora. This study explored the association of intestinal flora alteration with the development of GD among the Han population in southwest China.

Design and methods

Fifteen GD patients at the Affiliated Hospital of Zunyi Medical College between March 2016 and March 2017 were randomly enrolled. Additionally, 15 sex- and age-matched healthy volunteers were selected as the control group during the same period. Fresh stool samples were collected, and bacterial 16S RNA was extracted and amplified for gene sequencing with the Illumina MiSeq platform. The sequencing results were subjected to operational taxonomic unit-based classification, classification verification, alpha diversity analysis, taxonomic composition analysis and partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA).

Results

The diversity indices for the GD group were lower than those for the control group. The GD group showed significantly higher abundances of Firmicutes, Proteobacteria and Actinobacillus and a higher Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio than the control group. PLS-DA suggested the satisfactory classification of the flora between the GD group and the control group. The abundances of the genera Oribacterium, Mogibacterium, Lactobacillus, Aggregatibacter and Mogibacterium were significantly higher in the GD group than in the control group (P < 0.05).

Conclusions

The intestinal flora of GD patients was significantly different from that of the healthy population. Thus, alteration of intestinal flora may be associated with the development of GD.

Open access

Tingting Xia, Hongru Sun, Hao Huang, Haoran Bi, Rui Pu, Lei Zhang, Yuanyuan Zhang, Ying Liu, Jing Xu, Justina Ucheojor Onwuka, Yupeng Liu, Binbin Cui and Yashuang Zhao

According to its incidence patterns, colorectal cancer (CRC) tends to occur more frequently in males than in females, and the evidence shows that CRC is a hormone-related tumor. These findings indicate that androgen receptor (AR) gene methylation might be important for the regulation of the CRC risk in the different sexes. We used a case–control study to investigate the association between AR methylation in peripheral blood (PBL) and CRC risk. A cohort study was conducted to analyze the effect of AR methylation levels in both PBL and tissue on the prognosis of CRC. AR methylation levels were detected using methylation-sensitive high-resolution melting (MS-HRM). The results indicate that the hypomethylation of AR was significantly associated with the risk of CRC (OR = 1.869, 95% CI: 1.629–2.141, P < 0.001), and the results remained similar after adjusting for the propensity score (PS) (OR = 1.344, 95% CI: 1.147–1.575, P < 0.001) and PS matching (OR = 1.138, 95% CI: 1.000–1.292 P = 0.049). The hypomethylation of AR was significantly associated with CRC in males (OR = 2.309, 95% CI: 1.200–4.245; P = 0.012) but not females (OR = 1.000, 95% CI: 0.567–1.765; P = 0.999). The methylation status of AR in PBL and tissue does not seem to be associated with prognosis in colorectal cancer (OR = 1.425, 95% CI: 0.895–2.269, P = 0.135; OR = 0.930, 95% CI: 0.674–1.285, P = 0.661). We conclude that AR hypomethylation in PBL is associated with a high risk of CRC and may serve as a biomarker. Further studies involving large sample sizes are needed to validate the results of this study.

Open access

Simon Schimmack, Yongchao Yang, Klaus Felix, Markus Herbst, Yixiong Li, Miriam Schenk, Frank Bergmann, Thilo Hackert and Oliver Strobel

Objective

Elevated pre-operative C-reactive protein (CRP) serum values have been reported to be associated with poor overall survival for patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (pNEN). The aim of this study was to identify mechanisms linking CRP to poor prognosis in pNEN.

Methods

The malignant properties of pNENs were investigated using the human pNEN cell-lines BON1 and QGP1 exposed to CRP or IL-6. Analyses were performed by ELISA, Western blot, flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry as well as invasion and proliferation assays. To compare cytokine profiles and CRP levels, 76 serum samples of pNEN patients were analyzed using Luminex technology. In parallel, the expression of CRP and growth signaling pathway proteins was assessed on cell lines and paraffin-embedded primary pNEN.

Results

In BON1 and QGP1 cells, inflammation (exposure to IL-6) significantly upregulated CRP expression and secretion as well as migratory properties. CRP stimulation of BON1 cells increased IL-6 secretion and invasion. This was accompanied by activation/phosphorylation of the ERK, AKT and/or STAT3 pathways. Although known CRP receptors – CD16, CD32 and CD64 – were not detected on BON1 cells, CRP uptake of pNEN cells was shown after CRP exposure. In patients, increased pre-operative CRP levels (≥5 mg/L) were associated with significantly higher serum levels of IL-6 and G-CSF, as well as with an increased CRP expression and ERK/AKT/STAT3 phosphorylation in pNEN tissue.

Conclusion

The malignant properties of pNEN cells can be stimulated by CRP and IL-6 promoting ERK/AKT/STAT pathways activation as well as invasion, thus linking systemic inflammation and poor prognosis.