The distinction between pseudo-Cushing’s states (PCS) and Cushing’s syndrome (CS) poses a significant clinical challenge even for expert endocrinologists. A patient’s clinical history can sometimes help to distinguish between them (as in the case of alcoholic individuals), but the overlap in clinical and laboratory findings makes it difficult to arrive at a definitive diagnosis. We aim to describe the most common situations that can give rise to a condition resembling overt endogenous hypercortisolism and try to answer questions that physicians often face in clinical practice. It is important to know the relative prevalence of these different situations, bearing in mind that most of the conditions generating PCS are relatively common (such as metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome), while CS is rare in the general population. Physicians should consider CS in the presence of additional features. Appropriate treatment of underlying conditions is essential as it can reverse the hormonal abnormalities associated with PCS. Close surveillance and a thorough assessment of a patient’s hormone status will ultimately orient the diagnosis and treatment options over time.
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Carla Scaroni, Nora M Albiger, Serena Palmieri, Davide Iacuaniello, Chiara Graziadio, Luca Damiani, Marialuisa Zilio, Antonio Stigliano, Annamaria Colao, Rosario Pivonello, and the Altogether to Beat Cushing’s Syndrome (ABC) study group
Silan Zheng, Meifeng Tong, Lianqin Dong, Chunmin Du, Xin Zheng, Liying Wang, Peiying Huang, Wei Liu, Mingzhu Lin, and Changqin Liu
To explore the independent associations of the new adiposity indices lipid accumulation product (LAP) index, visceral adiposity index (VAI), and product of triglycerides and glucose (TyG) with the risks of hepatic steatosis (HS) in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
This is a cross-sectional study with 101 women with PCOS undergoing controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) measurement who were recruited from November 2018 to August 2019. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the associations of adiposity indices with HS.
Among the 101 PCOS patients, the prevalence rate of HS was 70.3%. The PCOS patients with HS have higher percentage of overweight/obesity status, higher level of aminotransferase (AST and ALT), homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), LAP, VAI, TyG, waist circumference (WC), and BMI (P < 0.05). Partial correlation analysis showed LAP, WC and BMI were significantly positively associated with CAP (P < 0.05) after controlling for confounding factors. Besides, BMI, WC, and CAP were gradually elevated with the increase of LAP level. Further, multivariable logistic regression analysis showed adjusted odd ratio (OR) with associated 95% CI (OR (95% CI)) were respectively 1.09 (1.03–1.16) for LAP, 1.14 (1.05–1.23) for WC, 1.28 (1.08–1.51) for BMI, respectively.
The present study demonstrates that in women with PCOS, except for the traditional adiposity indices (WC and BMI), LAP is independently correlated with the risk of HS.
Henrik H Thomsen, Holger J Møller, Christian Trolle, Kristian A Groth, Anne Skakkebæk, Anders Bojesen, Christian Høst, and Claus H Gravholt
Soluble CD163 (sCD163) is a novel marker linked to states of low-grade inflammation such as diabetes, obesity, liver disease, and atherosclerosis, all prevalent in subjects with Turner syndrome (TS) and Klinefelter syndrome (KS). We aimed to assess the levels of sCD163 and the regulation of sCD163 in regards to treatment with sex hormone therapy in males with and without KS and females with and without TS. Males with KS (n=70) and age-matched controls (n=71) participating in a cross-sectional study and 12 healthy males from an experimental hypogonadism study. Females with TS (n=8) and healthy age-matched controls (n=8) participating in a randomized crossover trial. The intervention comprised of treatment with sex steroids. Males with KS had higher levels of sCD163 compared with controls (1.75 (0.47–6.90) and 1.36 (0.77–3.11) respectively, P<0.001) and the levels correlated to plasma testosterone (r=−0.31, P<0.01), BMI (r=0.42, P<0.001), and homeostasis model of assessment insulin resistance (r=0.46, P<0.001). Treatment with testosterone did not significantly lower sCD163. Females with TS not receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT) had higher levels of sCD163 than those of their age-matched healthy controls (1.38±0.44 vs 0.91±0.40, P=0.04). HRT and oral contraceptive therapy decreased sCD163 in TS by 22% (1.07±0.30) and in controls by 39% (0.55±0.36), with significance in both groups (P=0.01 and P=0.04). We conclude that levels of sCD163 correlate with endogenous testosterone in KS and are higher in KS subjects compared with controls, but treatment did not significantly lower levels. Both endogenous and exogenous estradiol in TS was associated with lower levels of sCD163.
Bruno Donadille, Muriel Houang, Irène Netchine, Jean-Pierre Siffroi, and Sophie Christin-Maitre
Human 3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency (3b-HSD) is a very rare form of congenital adrenal hyperplasia resulting from HSD3B2 gene mutations. The estimated prevalence is less than 1/1,000,000 at birth. It leads to steroidogenesis impairment in both adrenals and gonads. Few data are available concerning adult testicular function in such patients. We had the opportunity to study gonadal axis and testicular function in a 46,XY adult patient, carrying a HSD3B2 mutation. He presented at birth a neonatal salt-wasting syndrome. He had a micropenis, a perineal hypospadias and two intrascrotal testes. HSD3B2 gene sequencing revealed a 687del27 homozygous mutation. The patient achieved normal puberty at the age of 15 years. Transition from the paediatric department occurred at the age of 19 years. His hormonal profile under hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone treatments revealed normal serum levels of 17OH-pregnenolone, as well as SDHEA, ACTH, total testosterone, inhibin B and AMH. Pelvic ultrasound identified two scrotal testes of 21 mL each, without any testicular adrenal rest tumours. His adult spermatic characteristics were normal, according to WHO 2010 criteria, with a sperm concentration of 57.6 million/mL (N > 15), 21% of typical forms (N > 4%). Sperm vitality was subnormal (41%; N > 58%). This patient, in contrast to previous reports, presents subnormal sperm parameters and therefore potential male fertility in a 24-years-old patient with severe 3b-HSD deficiency. This case should improve counselling about fertility of male patients carrying HSD3B2 mutation.
Xia Wu, Zhiling Li, Wenjiang Sun, and Huan Zheng
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in women. Hyperhomocysteinemia (H-Hcy) is closely related to arterial stiffness (AS) in patients with cardiovascular disease. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between serum homocysteine(Hcy) level and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) in Chinese women with PCOS. A total of 124 PCOS women were enrolled and divided into two groups according to their baPWV values: normal, baPWV < 1400 cm/s and high AS, baPWV ≥ 1400 cm/s. Univariate analysis was performed to investigate the relative factors for baPWV, and multiple regression analysis was used to evaluate the association of Hcy with baPWV. The group with high AS (n = 35) had higher Hcy levels than the other group (n = 89; P < 0.05). Moreover, univariate analysis revealed that serum Hcy was positively correlated with baPWV (r = 0.133, P < 0.01). In multiple regression analysis, the age-adjusted serum Hcy level was positively correlated with baPWV (β = 0.201, P < 0.01). It remained positively associated with baPWV (β = 0.145, P < 0.01) after further adjustments for age, BMI, PCOS duration, systolic blood pressure, and homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance as well as several other factors correlated with baPWV. Our results demonstrated that H-Hcy was significantly and independently related to elevated baPWV, suggesting that Hcy might play a role in the pathologic process of AS in women with PCOS. Further researches with more subjects are needed to explore whether Hcy would be a promising biomarker for the stratification management of PCOS women.
Małgorzata Kałużna, Agnieszka Nomejko, Aleksandra Słowińska, Katarzyna Wachowiak-Ochmańska, Katarzyna Pikosz, Katarzyna Ziemnicka, and Marek Ruchała
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a multi-symptom disorder linked with a range of metabolic and hormonal disturbances. Psychological and sexual aspects of PCOS also need to be considered.
Objective of the study
This study aimed to assess sexual satisfaction (SS) in PCOS patients and eumenorrheic controls (CON). The relationships between SS, depressive symptoms, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and hormonal and metabolic profiles were evaluated.
In this study, 190 patients with PCOS (mean age 26.34 ± 5.47 years) and 197 age-matched CON (mean age 27.12 ± 4.97 years) were enrolled. All subjects completed Polish version of the Sexual Satisfaction Questionnaire (SSQ), WHO Quality of Life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF), and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale-Revised (CESD-R) questionnaire. Fasting blood samples were collected to assess hormonal, lipid, and glucose profiles. Anthropometric measures were collected. Metabolic syndrome (MS) was evaluated according to the IDF-AHA/NHLBI criteria.
Patients with PCOS and MS had lower SS vs non-MS-PCOS. There were no significant differences in the level of SS, presence of depressive symptoms, or HRQoL between PCOS and CON (P > 0.05). Negative correlations were found between the SS level and BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-height ratio in PCOS women. However, overweight or obese PCOS women did not differ in SS levels vs normal-weight PCOS patients. The social dimension of WHOQOL-BREF was the only significant predictor of SS in PCOS patients.
SS in PCOS women appears to be undisturbed. However, MS in PCOS patients could negatively influence SS. The level of SS should be assessed in PCOS women, especially if MS is present.
Jan Roar Mellembakken, Azita Mahmoudan, Lars Mørkrid, Inger Sundström-Poromaa, Laure Morin-Papunen, Juha S Tapanainen, Terhi T Piltonen, Angelica Lindén Hirschberg, Elisabet Stener-Victorin, Eszter Vanky, Pernille Ravn, Richard Christian Jensen, Marianne Skovsager Andersen, and Dorte Glintborg
Obesity is considered to be the strongest predictive factor for cardio-metabolic risk in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The aim of the study was to compare blood pressure (BP) in normal weight women with PCOS and controls matched for age and BMI.
From a Nordic cross-sectional base of 2615 individuals of Nordic ethnicity, we studied a sub cohort of 793 normal weight women with BMI < 25 kg/m2 (512 women with PCOS according to Rotterdam criteria and 281 age and BMI-matched controls). Participants underwent measurement of BP and body composition (BMI, waist-hip ratio), lipid status, and fasting BG. Data were presented as median (quartiles).
The median age for women with PCOS were 28 (25, 32) years and median BMI was 22.2 (20.7, 23.4) kg/m2. Systolic BP was 118 (109, 128) mmHg in women with PCOS compared to 110 (105, 120) mmHg in controls and diastolic BP was 74 (67, 81) vs 70 (64, 75) mmHg, both P < 0.001. The prevalence of women with BP ≥ 140/90 mmHg was 11.1% (57/512) in women with PCOS vs 1.8% (5/281) in controls, P < 0.001. In women ≥ 35 years the prevalence of BP ≥ 140/90 mmHg was comparable in women with PCOS and controls (12.7% vs 9.8%, P = 0.6). Using multiple regression analyses, the strongest association with BP was found for age, waist circumference, and total cholesterol in women with PCOS.
Normal weight women with PCOS have higher BP than controls. BP and metabolic screening are relevant also in young normal weight women with PCOS.
Małgorzata Kałużna, Pola Kompf, Katarzyna Wachowiak-Ochmańska, Jerzy Moczko, Aleksandra Królczyk, Adam Janicki, Karol Szapel, Marian Grzymisławski, Marek Ruchała, and Katarzyna Ziemnicka
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) encompasses endocrine, reproductive and metabolic disturbances. Abdominal pain and bowel movement disturbances are common complaints of PCOS patients. It remains uncertain whether the characteristic features of PCOS are associated with an increased incidence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In the study, 133 patients with PCOS diagnosed according to international evidence-based guidelines and 72 age- and BMI-matched eumenorrheic controls were enrolled. Anthropometric measurements and biochemical and hormonal characteristics were collected. The Rome IV criteria were used for IBS diagnosis. Quality of life (QoL) and depressive symptoms were also assessed.
IBS symptom prevalence in PCOS was not significantly different than in controls. Hyperandrogenism and simple and visceral obesity did not appear to affect IBS prevalence in PCOS. There were no anthropometric, hormonal or biochemical differences between IBS-PCOS and non-IBS-PCOS patients, apart from IBS-PCOS patients being slightly older and having lower thyroid-stimulating hormone. Metabolic syndrome (MS) prevalence was higher in IBS-PCOS than non-IBS-PCOS. QoL appears to be significantly lower in IBS-PCOS compared to PCOS-only patients. The occurrence of depression was higher in IBS-PCOS vs non-IBS-PCOS patients. At least one alarm symptom was reported by 87.5% of IBS-PCOS; overall, this group experienced more alarm symptoms than the IBS-only group.
Since a link between PCOS and IBS comorbidity and increased MS prevalence was noted, patients presenting with both conditions may benefit from early MS diagnostics and management. The high incidence of alarm symptoms in PCOS women in this study highlights the need for differential diagnosis of organic diseases that could mimic IBS symptoms.
Rachel Forfar, Mashal Hussain, Puneet Khurana, Jennifer Cook, Steve Lewis, Dillon Popat, David Jackson, Ed McIver, Jeff Jerman, Debra Taylor, Adrian JL Clark, and Li F Chan
The overproduction of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), in conditions such as Cushing’s disease and congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), leads to significant morbidity. Current treatment with glucocorticoids does not adequately suppress plasma ACTH, resulting in excess adrenal androgen production. At present, there is no effective medical treatment in clinical use that would directly block the action of ACTH. Such a therapy would be of great clinical value. ACTH acts via a highly selective receptor, the melanocortin-2 receptor (MC2R) associated with its accessory protein MRAP. ACTH is the only known naturally occurring agonist for this receptor. This lack of redundancy and the high degree of ligand specificity suggest that antagonism of this receptor could provide a useful therapeutic strategy in the treatment of conditions of ACTH excess. To this end, we screened an extensive library of low-molecular-weight drug-like compounds for MC2R antagonist activity using a high-throughput homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence cAMP assay in Chinese hamster ovary cells stably co-expressing human MC2R and MRAP. Hits that demonstrated MC2R antagonist properties were counter-screened against the β2 adrenergic receptor and dose–response analysis undertaken. This led to the identification of a highly specific MC2R antagonist capable of antagonising ACTH-induced progesterone release in murine Y-1 adrenal cells and having selectivity for MC2R amongst the human melanocortin receptors. This work provides a foundation for the clinical investigation of small-molecule ACTH antagonists as therapeutic agents and proof of concept for the screening and discovery of such compounds.
Milène Tetsi Nomigni, Sophie Ouzounian, Alice Benoit, Jacqueline Vadrot, Frédérique Tissier, Sylvie Renouf, Hervé Lefebvre, Sophie Christin-Maitre, and Estelle Louiset
Hirsutism induced by hyperandrogenism can be associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, 21-hydroxylase (OH) deficiency or androgen-secreting tumors, including ovarian and adrenal tumors. Adrenal androgen-secreting tumors are frequently malignant. Adrenal oncocytomas represent rare causes of hyperandrogenism. The aim of the study was to investigate steroidogenic enzyme expression and steroid secretion in an androgen-secreting adrenal oncocytoma in a young woman presenting with hirsutism. Hyperandrogenism was diagnosed on the basis of elevated plasma Δ4-androstenedione and testosterone levels. Pelvic ultrasound was normal, CT scanning revealed a right adrenal mass. Androgens were assessed in adrenal and ovarian vein samples and proved a right adrenal origin. Adrenalectomy normalized androgen levels and the adrenal tumor was diagnosed as an oncocytoma. Real time-PCR, immunohistochemistry and cell culture studies were performed on tumor explants to investigate the steroid secretion profile. Among enzymes required for cortisol synthesis, 17α-OH and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 2 (3β-HSD2) were highly expressed whereas 21-OH and 11β-OH were weakly produced at the mRNA and/or protein levels. Enzymes involved in testosterone production, 17β-HSD5 and 17β-HSD3, were also detected. ACTH receptor was present in the tissue. Cortisol, Δ4-androstenedione and testosterone secretions by cultured cells were increased by ACTH. These results provide the first demonstration, to our knowledge, of abnormal expression profile of steroidogenic enzymes in an adrenocortical oncocytoma. Our results also indicate that Δ4-androstenedione hypersecretion resulted from high 17α-OH and 3β-HSD2 expression in combination with low expression of 21-OH and 11β-OH. Testosterone production was ascribed to occurrence of 17β-HSD5 and 17β-HSD3. Finally, our results indicate that androgen secretion was stimulated by ACTH.