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Open access

Frederique Van de Velde, Marlies Bekaert, Anja Geerts, Anne Hoorens, Arsène-Hélène Batens, Samyah Shadid, Margriet Ouwens, Yves Van Nieuwenhove and Bruno Lapauw

Purpose

Obese subjects with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are more prone to develop additional metabolic disturbances such as systemic insulin resistance (IR) and type 2 diabetes. NAFLD is defined by hepatic steatosis, lobular inflammation, ballooning and stage of fibrosis, but it is unclear if and which components could contribute to IR.

Objective

To assess which histological components of NAFLD associate with IR in subjects with obesity, and if so, to what extent.

Methods

This cross-sectional study included 78 obese subjects (mean age 46 ± 11 years; BMI 42.2 ± 4.7 kg/m2). Glucose levels were analysed by hexokinase method and insulin levels with electrochemiluminescence. Homeostasis model assessment-estimated insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) was calculated. Liver biopsies were evaluated for histological components of NAFLD.

Results

A positive association between overall NAFLD Activity Score and HOMA-IR was found (r s = 0.259, P = 0.022). As per individual components, lobular inflammation and fibrosis stage were positively associated with HOMA-IR, glucose and insulin levels (P < 0.05), and HOMA-IR was higher in patients with more inflammatory foci or higher stage of fibrosis. These findings were independent of age, BMI, triglyceride levels, diabetes status and sex (all P < 0.043). In a combined model, lobular inflammation, but not fibrosis, remained associated with HOMA-IR.

Conclusion

In this group of obese subjects, a major contributing histological component of NAFLD to the relation between NAFLD severity and IR seems to be the grade of hepatic lobular inflammation. Although no causal relationship was assessed, preventing or mitigating this inflammatory response in obesity might be of importance in controlling obesity-related metabolic disturbances.

Open access

Clara Odilia Sailer, Sophia Julia Wiedemann, Konrad Strauss, Ingeborg Schnyder, Wiebke Kristin Fenske and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Osmotic stimulus or stress results in vasopressin release. Animal and human in vitro studies have shown that inflammatory parameters, such as interleukin-8 (IL-8) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), increase in parallel in the central nervous system and bronchial, corneal or intestinal epithelial cell lines in response to osmotic stimulus. Whether osmotic stimulus directly causes a systemic inflammatory response in humans is unknown. We therefore investigated the influence of osmotic stimulus on circulatory markers of systemic inflammation in healthy volunteers. In this prospective cohort study, 44 healthy volunteers underwent a standardized test protocol with an osmotic stimulus leading into the hyperosmotic/hypernatremic range (serum sodium ≥150 mmol/L) by hypertonic saline infusion. Copeptin – a marker indicating vasopressin activity – serum sodium and osmolality, plasma IL-8 and TNF-α were measured at baseline and directly after osmotic stimulus. Median (range) serum sodium increased from 141 mmol/L (136, 147) to 151 mmol/L (145, 154) (P < 0.01), serum osmolality increased from 295 mmol/L (281, 306) to 315 mmol/L (304, 325) (P < 0.01). Median (range) copeptin increased from 4.3 pg/L (1.1, 21.4) to 28.8 pg/L (19.9, 43.4) (P < 0.01). Median (range) IL-8 levels showed a trend to decrease from 0.79 pg/mL (0.37, 1.6) to 0.7 pg/mL (0.4, 1.9) (P < 0.09) and TNF-α levels decreased from 0.53 pg/mL (0.11, 1.1) to 0.45 pg/mL (0.12, 0.97) (P < 0.036). Contrary to data obtained in vitro, circulating proinflammatory cytokines tend to or decrease in human plasma after osmotic stimulus. In this study, osmotic stimulus does not increase circulating markers of systemic inflammation.

Open access

Jiashu Li, Aihua Liu, Haixia Liu, Chenyan Li, Weiwei Wang, Cheng Han, Xinyi Wang, Yuanyuan Zhang, Weiping Teng and Zhongyan Shan

Thyroid dysfunction is a frequently found endocrine disorder among reproductively aged women. Subclinical hypothyroidism is the most common condition of thyroid disorders during pregnancy and is defined as manifesting a thyroid-stimulating hormone concentration exceeding the trimester-specific reference value, with a normal free thyroxine concentration. Here, we evaluated the prospective association between spontaneous miscarriage and first-trimester thyroid function. We conducted a case–control study (421 cases and 1684 controls) that was nested. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (FT4), thyroid-peroxidase antibody (TPOAb) and thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb) status were measured. We found that higher TSH was related to spontaneous miscarriage (OR 1.21; 95% CI, 1.13–1.30, P < 0.001). Compared with women with TSH levels of 0.4–<2.5 mIU/L, the risk of miscarriage was increased in women with TSH levels of 2.5–<4.87 mIU/L (OR 1.47; 95% CI, 1.16–1.87) and TSH greater than 4.87 mIU/L (OR 1.97; 95% CI, 1.22–3.18). After controlling for the confounding factor, TPOAb positivity status and FT4, the results were similar. The present study showed that higher TSH was associated with miscarriage in early pregnancy. In fact, TSH levels between 2.5 and 4.87 mIU/L increased the risk for miscarriage, with TSH greater than 4.87 mIU/L increasing the risk even further.

Open access

Christian Høst, Anders Bojesen, Mogens Erlandsen, Kristian A Groth, Kurt Kristensen, Anne Grethe Jurik, Niels H Birkebæk and Claus H Gravholt

Context and objective

Males with Klinefelter syndrome (KS) are typically hypogonadal with a high incidence of metabolic disease, increased body fat and mortality. Testosterone treatment of hypogonadal patients decrease fat mass, increase lean body mass and improve insulin sensitivity, but whether this extends to patients with KS is presently unknown.

Research design and methods

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, BMI-matched cross-over study, 13 males with KS (age: 34.8 years; BMI: 26.7 kg/m2) received testosterone (Andriol®) 160 mg per day (testosterone) or placebo treatment for 6 months. Thirteen age- and BMI-matched healthy controls were recruited. DEXA scan, abdominal computed tomography (CT) scan and a hyperinsulinemic–euglycemic clamp, muscle strength and maximal oxygen uptake measurement were performed.

Results

Total lean body mass and body fat mass were comparable between testosterone-naïve KS and controls using DEXA, whereas visceral fat mass, total abdominal and intra-abdominal fat by CT was increased (P < 0.05). Testosterone decreased total body fat (P = 0.01) and abdominal fat by CT (P = 0.04). Glucose disposal was similar between testosterone-naïve KS and controls (P = 0.3) and unchanged during testosterone (P = 0.8). Free fatty acid suppression during the clamp was impaired in KS and maximal oxygen uptake was markedly lower in KS, but both were unaffected by treatment. Testosterone increased hemoglobin and IGF-I.

Conclusion

Testosterone treatment in adult males with KS for 6 months leads to favorable changes in body composition with reductions in fat mass, including abdominal fat mass, but does not change measures of glucose homeostasis.

Open access

Pablo Abellán-Galiana, Carmen Fajardo-Montañana, Pedro Riesgo-Suárez, Marcelino Pérez-Bermejo, Celia Ríos-Pérez and José Gómez-Vela

Objectives

To analyze the usefulness of plasma ACTH in predicting CD remission after surgery and to evaluate the prognostic usefulness of ACTH measurement after the cortisol and ACTH nadir (48 h prior to discharge).

Design

A prospective study was made of 65 patients with CD operated upon between 2005 and 2016.

Methods

Postsurgery plasma ACTH and cortisol were measured every 6 h, in the absence of corticosteroid coverage. Hydrocortisone was started in the presence of adrenal insufficiency or cortisol <55.2 nmol/L. Plasma ACTH was again determined before discharge.

Main outcome measure

Usefulness of plasma ACTH in predicting CD remission.

Results

Remission at 3 months of CD was achieved in 56 of 65 cases, with late recurrence in 18 of 58 cases. Following resection, the ACTH nadir was significantly lower referred to late remission (2.8 vs 6.5 pmol/L; P = 0.031) and higher for recurrence (2.1 vs 4.8 pmol/L; P < 0.001), and identical results were obtained for the ACTH values before discharge. In the analysis of the ROC curves, nadir and before discharge ACTH values <1.9 pmol/L and <2.6 pmol/L were respectively indicative of early remission (AUC 0.827; P < 0.001); <6.2 pmol/L of remission at 3 months (AUC 0.847; P = 0.001) and >3.2 pmol/L of recurrence (AUC 0.810; P < 0.001) in both ACTH values. A time to ACTH nadir <46 h was indicative of early remission (AUC 0.751; P = 0.001), while a time >39 h was indicative of recurrence (AUC 0.773; P = 0.001).

Conclusions

We propose an ACTH value <3.3 pmol/L as a good long-term prognostic marker in the postoperative period of CD. Reaching the ACTH nadir in less time is associated to a lesser recurrence rate.

Open access

Maria Cristina De Martino, Richard A Feelders, Claudia Pivonello, Chiara Simeoli, Fortuna Papa, Annamaria Colao, Rosario Pivonello and Leo J Hofland

Adrenocortical carcinomas (ACCs) are rare tumors with scant treatment options for which new treatments are required. The mTOR pathway mediates the intracellular signals of several growth factors, including the insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), and therefore represents a potential attractive pathway for the treatment of several malignancies including ACCs. Several mTOR inhibitors, including sirolimus, temsirolimus and everolimus, have been clinically developed. This review summarizes the results of the studies evaluating the expression of the mTOR pathway components in ACCs, the effects of the mTOR inhibitors alone or in combination with other drugs in preclinical models of ACCs and the early experience with the use of these compounds in the clinical setting. The mTOR pathway seems a potential target for treatment of patients with ACC, but further investigation is still required to define the potential role of mTOR inhibitors alone or in combination with other drugs in the treatment of ACC patients.

Open access

B Shahida, P Sahlstrand Johnson, R Jain, H Brorson, P Åsman, M Lantz and T Planck

Background

Smoking is a strong risk factor for the development of Graves’ ophthalmopathy (GO). Immediate early genes (IEGs) are overexpressed in patients with active GO compared to healthy controls. The aim of this study was to study the effects of tobacco smoking and simvastatin on preadipocytes and orbital fibroblasts (OFs) in the adipogenic process.

Methods

Cigarette smoke extract (CSE) was generated by a validated pump system. Mouse 3T3-L1 preadipocytes or OFs were exposed to 10% CSE with or without simvastatin. Gene expression was studied in preadipocytes and OFs exposed to CSE with or without simvastatin and compared to unexposed cells or cells treated with a differentiation cocktail.

Results

In 3T3-L1 preadipocytes, Cyr61, Ptgs2, Egr1 and Zfp36 expression levels were two-fold higher in cells exposed to CSE than in unexposed cells. Simvastatin downregulated the expression of these genes (1.6-fold, 5.5-fold, 3.3-fold, 1.4-fold, respectively). CSE alone could not stimulate preadipocytes to differentiate. Scd1, Ppar-γ and adipogenesis were downregulated in simvastatin-treated preadipocytes compared to nontreated preadipocytes 18-, 35- and 1.7-fold, respectively. In OFs, similar effects of CSE were seen on the expression of CYR61 (1.4-fold) and PTGS2 (3-fold). Simvastatin downregulated adipogenesis, PPAR-γ (2-fold) and SCD (27-fold) expression in OFs.

Conclusion

CSE upregulated early adipogenic genes in both mouse 3T3-L1 preadipocytes and human OFs but did not by itself induce adipogenesis. Simvastatin inhibited the expression of both early and late adipogenic genes and adipogenesis in preadipocytes and human OFs. The effect of simvastatin should be investigated in a clinical trial of patients with GO.

Open access

Roberto Cosimo Melcangi, Livio Casarini, Marco Marino, Daniele Santi, Samantha Sperduti, Silvia Giatti, Silvia Diviccaro, Maria Grimoldi, Donatella Caruso, Guido Cavaletti and Manuela Simoni

Context

Post-finasteride syndrome (PFS) occurs in patients with androgenic alopecia after suspension of the finasteride treatment, leading to a large variety of persistent side effects. Despite the severity of the clinical picture, the mechanism underlying the PFS symptoms onset and persistence is still unclear.

Objective

To study whether epigenetic modifications occur in PFS patients.

Methods

Retrospective analysis of a multicentric, prospective, longitudinal, case–control clinical trial, enrolling 16 PFS patients, compared to 20 age-matched healthy men. Main outcomes were methylation pattern of SRD5A1 and SRD5A2 promoters and concentration of 11 neuroactive steroids, measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, in blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples.

Results

SRD5A1 and SRD5A2 methylation analysis was performed in all blood samples (n = 16 PFS patients and n = 20 controls), in 16 CSF samples from PFS patients and in 13 CSF samples from controls. The SRD5A2 promoter was more frequently methylated in CSF of PFS patients compared to controls (56.3 vs 7.7%). No promoter methylation was detected in blood samples in both groups. No methylation occurred in the SRD5A1 promoter of both groups. Unmethylated controls compared to unmethylated SRD5A2 patients showed higher pregnenolone, dihydrotestosterone and dihydroprogesterone, together with lower testosterone CSF levels. Andrological and neurological assessments did not differ between methylated and unmethylated subjects.

Conclusions

For the first time, we demonstrate a tissue-specific methylation pattern of SRD5A2 promoter in PFS patients. Although we cannot conclude whether this pattern is prenatally established or induced by finasteride treatment, it could represent an important mechanism of neuroactive steroid levels and behavioural disturbances previously described in PFS.

Open access

Arno Téblick, Lies Langouche and Greet Van den Berghe

Critical illness is hallmarked by major changes in all hypothalamic–pituitary–peripheral hormonal axes. Extensive animal and human studies have identified a biphasic pattern in circulating pituitary and peripheral hormone levels throughout critical illness by analogy with the fasting state. In the acute phase of critical illness, following a deleterious event, rapid neuroendocrine changes try to direct the human body toward a catabolic state to ensure provision of elementary energy sources, whereas costly anabolic processes are postponed. Thanks to new technologies and improvements in critical care, the majority of patients survive the acute insult and recover within a week. However, an important part of patients admitted to the ICU fail to recover sufficiently, and a prolonged phase of critical illness sets in. This prolonged phase of critical illness is characterized by a uniform suppression of the hypothalamic–pituitary–peripheral hormonal axes. Whereas the alterations in hormonal levels during the first hours and days after the onset of critical illness are evolutionary selected and are likely beneficial for survival, endocrine changes in prolonged critically ill patients could be harmful and may hamper recovery. Most studies investigating the substitution of peripheral hormones or strategies to overcome resistance to anabolic stimuli failed to show benefit for morbidity and mortality. Research on treatment with selected and combined hypothalamic hormones has shown promising results. Well-controlled RCTs to corroborate these findings are needed.

Open access

Lena-Maria Levin, Henry Völzke, Markus M Lerch, Jens-Peter Kühn, Matthias Nauck, Nele Friedrich and Stephanie Zylla

Objective

Chemerin and adiponectin are adipokines assumed to be involved in the development of metabolic syndrome-related phenotypes like hepatic steatosis. We aimed to evaluate the associations of circulating chemerin and adiponectin concentrations with liver enzymes, liver fat content, and hepatic steatosis in the general population.

Methods

Data of 3951 subjects from the population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP-TREND) were used. Hepatic steatosis was assumed when either a hyperechogenic liver (assessed via ultrasound) or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-quantified liver fat content >5% was present. Adjusted sex-specific quantile and logistic regression models were applied to analyze the associations of chemerin and adiponectin with liver enzymes, liver fat content and hepatic steatosis.

Results

The observed associations of chemerin and adiponectin with liver enzymes were very divergent depending on sex, fasting status and the specific enzyme. More consistent results were seen in the analyses of these adipokines in relation to MRI-quantified liver fat content. Here, we observed inverse associations to adiponectin in both sexes as well as a positive (men) or U-shaped (women) association to chemerin. Similarly, the MRI-based definition of hepatic steatosis revealed strongly consistent results: in both sexes, high chemerin concentrations were associated with higher odds of hepatic steatosis, whereas high adiponectin concentrations were associated with lower odds.

Conclusion

Our results suggest a role of these adipokines in the pathogenesis of hepatic steatosis independent of metabolic or inflammatory disorders. However, experimental studies are needed to further clarify the underlying mechanisms and the inter-play between adipokine concentrations and hepatic steatosis.