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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

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.

Open access

Simonetta Piana, Eleonora Zanetti, Alessandra Bisagni, Alessia Ciarrocchi, Davide Giordano, Federica Torricelli, Teresa Rossi and Moira Ragazzi

The NOTCH signaling is an evolutionarily conserved signaling pathway that regulates cell–cell interactions. NOTCH family members play a fundamental role in a variety of processes during development in particular in cell fate decisions. As other crucial factors during embryogenesis, NOTCH signaling is aberrantly reactivated in cancer where it has been linked to context-dependent effects. In thyroid cancer, NOTCH1 expression has been associated to aggressive features even if its in vivo expression within the entire spectrum of thyroid tumors has not definitively established. A series of 106 thyroid specimens including non-neoplastic lesions, benign and malignant tumors of common and rare histotypes, were investigated by immunohistochemistry to assess NOTCH1 expression. Extent of positivity and protein localization were investigated and correlated with clinical and morphological parameters. NOTCH1 positivity was predominantly associated with papillary carcinomas and only occasionally found in follicular carcinomas. Poorly differentiated and undifferentiated thyroid carcinomas showed only a partial positivity. NOTCH1 expression pattern also seemed differently distributed according to histotype. Our data confirm a role of NOTCH1 in thyroid cancer and highlight for the first time the specific involvement of this pathway in papillary carcinomas. Our data also indicate that other thyroid malignancies do not rely on NOTCH1 signaling for development and progression.

Open access

María L Bacigalupo, Verónica G Piazza, Nadia S Cicconi, Pablo Carabias, Andrzej Bartke, Yimin Fang, Ana I Sotelo, Gabriel A Rabinovich, María F Troncoso and Johanna G Miquet

Transgenic mice overexpressing growth hormone (GH) spontaneously develop liver tumors, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), within a year. The preneoplastic liver pathology in these mice recapitulates that observed in humans at high risk of developing hepatic cancer. Although increased expression of galectin 1 (GAL1) in liver tissue is associated with HCC aggressiveness, a link between this glycan-binding protein and hormone-related tumor development has not yet been explored. In this study, we investigated GAL1 expression during liver tumor progression in mice continuously exposed to high levels of GH. GAL1 expression was determined by Western blotting, RT-qPCR and immunohistochemistry in the liver of transgenic mice overexpressing GH. Animals of representative ages at different stages of liver pathology were studied. GAL1 expression was upregulated in the liver of GH-transgenic mice. This effect was observed at early ages, when animals displayed no signs of liver disease or minimal histopathological alterations and was also detected in young adults with preneoplastic liver pathology. Remarkably, GAL1 upregulation was sustained during aging and its expression was particularly enhanced in liver tumors. GH also induced hepatic GAL1 expression in mice that were treated with this hormone for a short period. Moreover, GH triggered a rapid increment in GAL1 protein expression in human HCC cells, denoting a direct effect of the hormone on hepatocytes. Therefore, our results indicate that GH upregulates GAL1 expression in mouse liver, which may have critical implications in tumorigenesis. These findings suggest that this lectin could be implicated in hormone-driven liver carcinogenesis.

Open access

Matilde Calanchini, Michael Tadman, Jesper Krogh, Andrea Fabbri, Ashley Grossman and Brian Shine

Background

The 24-h urinary output of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) is used to monitor disease progression and treatment responses of neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs). Several conditions are required for 5-HIAA assay, involving urine collection/preservation and food/drug restrictions.

Aim

To evaluate the correlation between 5-HIAA concentration in a spot urine sample and the output in a 24-h urine collection, and whether spot urine specimens can replace 24-h collection.

Methods

Patients with NENs or symptoms suggestive of NENs were asked to provide a separate spot urine at the end of the 24-h urine collection for 5-HIAA assessment. The upper reference limit for 24-h urinary 5-HIAA was 40 µmol/24 h. 5-HIAA measurements in spot urine samples were corrected for variation in urine flow rate by expressing results as a ratio to creatinine concentration.

Results

We included 136 paired urinary samples for 5-HIAA assessment from 111 patients (100 NENs). The correlation between 5-HIAA values measured in 24-h and spot urines was r = +0.863 (P < 0.001) and r = +0.840 (P < 0.001) including only NEN patients. Using the 24-h urinary 5-HIAA as reference method, the AUC on ROC analysis for spot urinary 5-HIAA was 0.948 (95% CI, 0.914–0.983; P < 0.001), attaining a sensitivity of 83% and specificity of 95% using 5.3 mol/mmol as cut-off for the spot urine. The AUC among NEN patients alone was 0.945 (95% CI, 0.904–0.987; P < 0.001).

Conclusions

The ratio of 5-HIAA to creatinine in a spot urine could replace the measurement of 5-HIAA output in a 24-h urine collection, especially for follow-up of patients with known elevated 5-HIAA levels.

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.