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Open access

M P Schuijt, C G J Sweep, R van der Steen, A J Olthaar, N M M L Stikkelbroeck, H A Ross and A E van Herwaarden

Objective

Increased maternal testosterone concentration during pregnancy may affect the fetus. Therefore it is clinically relevant to have a quick and reliable method to determine free testosterone levels. Current calculators for free testosterone are suspected to perform poorly during pregnancy due to suggested competition between high levels of estradiol and free (bio-active) testosterone for sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) binding. Therefore, it is claimed that reliable calculation of free testosterone concentration is not possible. However, recent evidence on SHBG-binding sites questions the estradiol effect on the testosterone-SHBG binding during pregnancy. In this study, we investigated whether the free testosterone concentration can be calculated in pregnant women.

Design and methods

Free testosterone was measured with a specially developed equilibrium dialysis method combined with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Free testosterone was also calculated with the formulas of Vermeulen et al. and Ross et al.

Results

Total and free testosterone measured in healthy men and women were in good agreement with earlier reports. In pregnant women, total testosterone values were higher than in non-pregnant women, whereas free testosterone values were comparable. Calculated free testosterone levels in pregnant women were highly correlated, but marginally higher, compared to measured free testosterone levels.

Conclusions

We developed an equilibrium dialysis–LC-MS/MS method for the measurement of free testosterone in the low range of pregnant and non-pregnant women. Although during pregnancy total testosterone is increased, this is not the case for free testosterone. The free testosterone formulas perform well in pregnant women.

Open access

Satoshi Higuchi, Hideki Ota, Takuya Ueda, Yuta Tezuka, Kei Omata, Yoshikiyo Ono, Ryo Morimoto, Masataka Kudo, Fumitoshi Satoh and Kei Takase

Objective

Regional differences in cardiac magnetic resonance, which can reveal catecholamine-induced myocardial injury in patients with pheochromocytoma, have not yet been assessed using 3T magnetic resonance imaging. We evaluated these differences using myocardial T1-mapping and strain analysis.

Design and Methods

We retrospectively reviewed 16 patients newly diagnosed with catecholamine-producing tumors (CPT group) and 16 patients with essential hypertension (EH group), who underwent cardiac magnetic resonance imaging between May 2016 and March 2018. We acquired 3T magnetic resonance cine and native T1-mapping images and performed feature-tracking-based strain analysis in the former.

Results

Global cardiac function, morphology, global strain and peak strain rate were similar, but end-diastolic wall thickness differed between groups (CPT vs EH: 10.5 ± 1.7 vs 12.6 ± 2.8 mm; P < 0.05). Basal, but not apical, circumferential strain was significantly higher in the CPT than the EH group (19.4 ± 3.2 vs 16.8 ± 3.6 %; P < 0.05). Native T1 values were significantly higher in CPT than in EH patients, in both the basal septum (1307 ± 48 vs 1241 ± 45 ms; P < 0.01) and the apical septum (1377 ± 59 vs 1265 ± 58 ms; P < 0.01) mid-walls. In the CPT, but not in the EH group, native T1 values in the apical wall were significantly higher than those in the basal wall (P < 0.01).

Conclusion

3T magnetic resonance-based T1-mapping can sensitively detect subclinical catecholamine-induced myocardial injury; the influence of catecholamines may be greater in the apical than in the basal wall.

Open access

Angela Köninger, Antonella Iannaccone, Ensar Hajder, Mirjam Frank, Boerge Schmidt, Ekkehard Schleussner, Rainer Kimmig, Alexandra Gellhaus and Hans Dieplinger

Background

Patients suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are often insulin resistant and at elevated risk for developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). The aim of this study was to explore afamin, which can be determined preconceptionally to indicate patients who will subsequently develop GDM. Serum concentrations of afamin are altered in conditions of oxidative stress like insulin resistance (IR) and correlate with the gold standard of IR determination, the HOMA index.

Methods

Afamin serum concentrations and the HOMA index were analyzed post hoc in 63 PCOS patients with live births. Patients were treated at Essen University Hospital, Germany, between 2009 and 2018. Mann–Whitney U test, T test, Spearman’s correlation, linear regression models and receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were performed for statistical analysis.

Results

Patients who developed GDM showed significantly higher HOMA and serum afamin values before their pregnancy (P < 0.001, respectively). ROCs for afamin concentrations showed an area under the curve of 0.78 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.65–0.90) and of 0.77 (95% CI 0.64–0.89) for the HOMA index. An afamin threshold of 88.6 mg/L distinguished between women who will develop GDM and those who will not with a sensitivity of 79.3% and a specificity of 79.4%. A HOMA index of 2.5 showed a sensitivity of 65.5% and a specificity of 88.2%.

Conclusion

The HOMA index and its surrogate parameter afamin are able to identify pre-pregnant PCOS patients who are at risk to develop GDM. Serum afamin concentrations are independent of fasting status and therefore an easily determinable biomarker.

Open access

Stefano Mangiola, Ryan Stuchbery, Patrick McCoy, Ken Chow, Natalie Kurganovs, Michael Kerger, Anthony Papenfuss, Christopher M Hovens and Niall M Corcoran

Prostate cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and cancer-related death worldwide. Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is the cornerstone of management for advanced disease. The use of these therapies is associated with multiple side effects, including metabolic syndrome and truncal obesity. At the same time, obesity has been associated with both prostate cancer development and disease progression, linked to its effects on chronic inflammation at a tissue level. The connection between ADT, obesity, inflammation and prostate cancer progression is well established in clinical settings; however, an understanding of the changes in adipose tissue at the molecular level induced by castration therapies is missing. Here, we investigated the transcriptional changes in periprostatic fat tissue induced by profound ADT in a group of patients with high-risk tumours compared to a matching untreated cohort. We find that the deprivation of androgen is associated with a pro-inflammatory and obesity-like adipose tissue microenvironment. This study suggests that the beneficial effect of therapies based on androgen deprivation may be partially counteracted by metabolic and inflammatory side effects in the adipose tissue surrounding the prostate.

Open access

Sofia S Pereira, Mariana P Monteiro, Sonir R Antonini and Duarte Pignatelli

Apoptosis evading is a hallmark of cancer. Tumor cells are characterized by having an impaired apoptosis signaling, a fact that deregulates the balance between cell death and survival, leading to tumor development, invasion and resistance to treatment. In general, patients with adrenocortical carcinomas (ACC) have an extremely bad prognosis, which is related to disease progression and significant resistance to treatments. In this report, we performed an integrative review about the disruption of apoptosis in ACC that may underlie the characteristic poor prognosis in these patients. Although the apoptosis has been scarcely studied in ACC, the majority of the deregulation phenomena already described are anti-apoptotic. Most importantly, in a near future, targeting apoptosis modulation in ACC patients may become a promising therapeutic.

Open access

Nassim Ghaffari-Tabrizi-Wizsy, Christina Angelika Passegger, Laura Nebel, Fabian Krismer, Gudrun Herzer-Schneidhofer, Gert Schwach and Roswitha Pfragner

Preclinical trials of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) therapeutics require both in vitro and in vivo analyses. Human tumour xenografted rodent models, which are considered the ‘gold standard’ to study and validate the efficacy and toxicity of lead compounds before translation to clinical trials, are very expensive, subject to organismal variability and ethical controversies. The avian chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay provides an alternative versatile, cost-effective and ethically less objectionable short-term, in vivo model for reliable screening of drugs. In this work, we grafted two MTC cell lines and patient-derived MTC tumour samples onto the avian CAM and characterised the resulted tumours histologically and immunohistochemically. Our findings provide the evidence that the CAM assay is a suitable model for studying the pathophysiology of MTC and can even be used as in vivo system for drug testing.

Open access

Shenglong Le, Leiting Xu, Moritz Schumann, Na Wu, Timo Törmäkangas, Markku Alén, Sulin Cheng and Petri Wiklund

Background

The directional influences between serum sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), adiposity and insulin resistance during pubertal growth remain unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate bidirectional associations between SHBG and insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and adiposity from childhood to early adulthood.

Methods

Participants were 396 healthy girls measured at baseline (age 11.2 years) and at 1, 2, 4 and 7.5 years. Serum concentrations of estradiol, testosterone and SHBG were determined by ELISA, glucose and insulin by enzymatic photometry, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) by time-resolved fluoroimmunoassays, whole-body fat mass by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and HOMA-IR were determined by homeostatic model assessment. The associations were examined using cross-lagged path models.

Results

In a cross-lagged path model, SHBG predicted HOMA-IR before menarche β = −0.320 (95% CI: −0.552 to −0.089), P = 0.007, independent of adiposity and IGF-1. After menarche, no directional effect was found between SHBG and insulin resistance or adiposity.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that in early puberty, decline in SHBG predicts development of insulin resistance, independent of adiposity. However, after menarche, no directional influences between SHBG, adiposity and insulin resistance were found, suggesting that observational associations between SHBG, adiposity and insulin resistance in pubertal children may be subject to confounding. Further research is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms of the associations between SHBG and cardiometabolic risk markers in peripubertal children.

Open access

Stan Ursem, Vito Francic, Martin Keppel, Verena Schwetz, Christian Trummer, Marlene Pandis, Felix Aberer, Martin R Grübler, Nicolas D Verheyen, Winfried März, Andreas Tomaschitz, Stefan Pilz, Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch and Annemieke C Heijboer

Objective

PTH can be oxidised in vivo, rendering it biologically inactive. Non-oxidised PTH (n-oxPTH) may therefore give a better image of the hormonal status of the patient. While vitamin D supplementation decreases total PTH (tPTH) concentration, the effect on n-oxPTH concentration is unexplored. We investigated the effect of vitamin D on n-oxPTH concentration in comparison to tPTH and compared the correlations between parameters of calcium, bone and lipid metabolism with n-oxPTH and tPTH.

Methods

N-oxPTH was measured in 108 vitamin D-insufficient (25(OH)D <75 nmol/L) hypertensive patients, treated with vitamin D (2800 IE daily) or placebo for 8 weeks in the Styrian Vitamin D Hypertension Trial (NCT02136771). We calculated the treatment effect and performed correlation analyses of n-oxPTH and tPTH with parameters of calcium, bone and lipid metabolism and oxidative stress.

Results

After treatment, compared to placebo, 25(OH)D concentrations increased, tPTH decreased by 9% (P < 0.001), n-oxPTH by 7% (P = 0.025) and the ratio of n-oxPTH/tPTH increased (P = 0.027). Changes in phosphate and HDL concentration correlated with changes in n-oxPTH, but not tPTH.

Conclusions

tPTH and n-oxPTH decrease upon vitamin D supplementation. Our study suggests that vitamin D supplementation reduces the oxidation of PTH, as we observed a small but significant increase in the non-oxidised proportion of PTH upon treatment. In addition, we found that changes in phosphate and HDL concentration showed a relationship with changes in n-oxPTH, but not tPTH. This may be explained by the biological activity of n-oxPTH. Further research should be carried out to establish the clinical relevance of n-oxPTH.

Open access

Arpna Sharma, Vijay Simha Baddela, Frank Becker, Dirk Dannenberger, Torsten Viergutz and Jens Vanselow

High-yielding dairy cows postpartum face the challenge of negative energy balance leading to elevated free fatty acids levels in the serum and follicular fluid thus affecting the ovarian function. Here, we investigated effects of physiological concentrations of palmitic acid (PA), stearic acid (SA) and oleic acid (OA) on the viability, steroid production and gene expression in a bovine granulosa cell (GC) culture model. Treatment with individual and combined fatty acids increased the CD36 gene expression, while no significant apoptotic effects were observed. Both PA and SA significantly upregulated the expression of FSHR, LHCGR, CYP19A1, HSD3B1, CCND2 and increased 17β-estradiol (E2) production, while OA downregulated the expression of these genes and reduced E2. Interestingly, STAR was equally downregulated by all fatty acids and combination treatment. E2 was significantly reduced after combination treatment. To validate the effects of OA, in vivo growing dominant follicles (10–19 mm) were injected with bovine serum albumin (BSA) with/without conjugated OA. The follicular fluid was recovered 48 h post injection. As in our in vitro model, OA significantly reduced intrafollicular E2 concentrations. In addition, expression of CD36 was significantly up- and that of CYP19A1 and STAR significantly downregulated in antral GC recovered from aspirated follicles. The ovulation rates of OA-injected follicles tended to be reduced. Our results indicate that elevated free fatty acid concentrations specifically target functional key genes in GC both in vitro and in vivo. Suggestively, this could be a possible mechanism through which elevated free fatty acids affect folliculogenesis in dairy cows postpartum.

Open access

Wenqi Yang, Ling Liu, Yuan Wei, Chunlu Fang, Fu Zhou, Jinbao Chen, Qinghua Han, Meifang Huang, Xuan Tan, Qiuyue Liu, Qiang Pan, Lu Zhang, Xiaojuan Lei and Liangming Li

Objective

The protective effects of exercise against glucose dysmetabolism have been generally reported. However, the mechanism by which exercise improves glucose homeostasis remains poorly understood. The FGF21–adiponectin axis participates in the regulation of glucose metabolism. Elevated levels of FGF21 and decreased levels of adiponectin in obesity indicate FGF21–adiponectin axis dysfunction. Hence, we investigated whether exercise could improve the FGF21–adiponectin axis impairment and ameliorate disturbed glucose metabolism in diet-induced obese mice.

Methods

Eight-week-old C57BL/6J mice were randomly assigned to three groups: low-fat diet control group, high-fat diet group and high-fat diet plus exercise group. Glucose metabolic parameters, the ability of FGF21 to induce adiponectin, FGF21 receptors and co-receptor levels and adipose tissue inflammation were evaluated after 12 weeks of intervention.

Results

Exercise training led to reduced levels of fasting blood glucose and insulin, improved glucose tolerance and better insulin sensitivity in high-fat diet-induced obese mice. Although serum FGF21 levels were not significantly changed, both total and high-molecular-weight adiponectin concentrations were markedly enhanced by exercise. Importantly, exercise protected against high-fat diet-induced impaired ability of FGF21 to stimulate adiponectin secretion. FGF21 co-receptor, β-klotho, as well as receptors, FGFR1 and FGFR2, were upregulated by exercise. We also found that exercise inhibited adipose tissue inflammation, which may contribute to the improvement in the FGF21–adiponectin axis impairment.

Conclusions

Our data indicate exercise protects against high-fat diet-induced FGF21–adiponectin axis impairment, and may thereby exert beneficial effects on glucose metabolism.