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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

Guoquan Zhu, Yuying Deng, Liqin Pan, Wei Ouyang, Huijuan Feng, Juqing Wu, Pan Chen, Jing Wang, Yanying Chen and Jiaxin Luo

The goal of this study was to explore the relationship of the BRAFV600E mutation with clinicopathologic factors and evaluate the effect of radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy in a large group of intermediate and high-risk papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) patients with the BRAFV600E mutation and without distant metastases. We collected data for PTC patients who underwent total or near-total thyroidectomy and RAI treatment in our hospital from January 2014–December 2017. There were 1220 PTC patients who met the criteria, and the BRAFV600E mutation was observed in 979 of them (80.2%). Multivariate analysis identified that the BRAFV600E mutation remained independently associated with age at diagnosis, bilaterality, and TNM stage (OR = 1.023, 95% CI = 1.012–1.039, P < 0.001; OR = 1.685, 95% CI = 1.213–2.341, P = 0.002; OR = 1.748, 95% CI = 0.586–5.499, P = 0.039, respectively). In addition, the patients with bilateral PTCs had a higher prevalence of extrathyroid invasion, capsular invasion, and fusion of metastatic lymph nodes than the unilateral PTC patients. The response to RAI therapy was evaluated in both the entire series and the patients with a high recurrence risk; no significant difference was discerned between the BRAFV600E mutation and the wild-type groups (P = 0.237 and P = 0.498, respectively). To summarize, our results confirmed that PTC patients with the BRAFV600E mutation exhibit more aggressive characteristics. In addition, the patients with bilateral PTC have a higher incidence of extrathyroid invasion. Moreover, BRAFV600E mutation PTC patients did not show a poorer clinical response after postsurgical RAI therapy, suggesting that RAI therapy may improve the general clinical outcome of these patients.

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

Emmanuelle Noirrit, Mélissa Buscato, Marion Dupuis, Bernard Payrastre, Coralie Fontaine, Jean-François Arnal and Marie-Cécile Valera

Estrogen–progestin therapy was previously considered as the standard of care for managing bothersome symptoms associated with menopause, but it increases risks of breast cancer and of thromboembolism. The combination of conjugated estrogen (CE) with bazedoxifene (BZA) named tissue-selective estrogen complex (TSEC) was designed to minimize or even abrogate the undesirable effects on breast, while maintaining the beneficial effects such as prevention of osteoporosis and suppression of climacteric symptoms. The risk on thromboembolism associated with TSEC is unknown, although the clinical available data are reassuring. The aim of this study was to define the impact of a chronic administration of CE, BZA or CE+BZA on hemostasis and thrombosis in ovariectomized mice. As expected, CE, but not BZA neither CE+BZA, induced uterine and vagina hypertrophy. As previously demonstrated for 17beta-estradiol (E2), we found that CE: i) increased tail-bleeding time, ii) prevented occlusive thrombus formation in injured carotid artery, and iii) protected against collagen/epinephrine-induced thromboembolism. Thus, whereas BZA antagonized CE action on reproductive tissues, it had no impact on the effect of CE on hemostasis, thromboembolism and arterial thrombosis in mice. CE+BZA shared the anti-thrombotic actions of CE in these mouse models. If a similar process is at work in women, CE combined with BZA could contribute to minimize the risk of thrombosis associated with hormone replacement therapy.

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

Min Li, Ying Chen, Jingjing Jiang, Yan Lu, Zhiyi Song, Shengjie Zhang, Chao Sun, Hao Ying, Xiaofang Fan, Yuping Song, Jialin Yang and Lin Zhao

Objective: Recent studies have shown that neuregulin 4 (Nrg4), a member of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family of extracellular ligands, plays an important role in the prevention of obesity, insulin resistance, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Considering that thyroid hormone (TH) has profound effects on whole-body energy metabolism, we speculate that circulating Nrg4 levels might be altered in patients with hyperthyroidism.

Design and methods: A total of 129 hyperthyroid patients and 100 healthy subjects were recruited. Of them, thirty-nine hyperthyroid patients received thionamide treatment for 3 months until euthyroidism. Serum Nrg4 levels were determined using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method. To further confirm the relationship between TH and Nrg4, C57BL/6 mice were treated with T3 and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed to detect Nrg4 gene expression.

Results: Serum Nrg4 levels were significantly elevated in hyperthyroid patients as compared with normal controls (3.84±1.63 vs 2.21±1.04 ng/mL, P<0.001). After achieving euthyroidism by thionamide treatment, serum Nrg4 levels dropped markedly from 3.57±1.26 to 1.94±0.72 ng/ml (P<0.001). After adjustment for potential confounders, serum Nrg4 levels were independently associated with hyperthyroidism. The upregulation of Nrg4 expression in the livers and white adipose tissues by T3 was further confirmed by animal and cell culture experiments.

Conclusions: Serum Nrg4 levels were increased in patients with hyperthyroidism. The liver and white adipose tissue might be primary sources contributing to elevated serum Nrg4 concentrations.