Emerging evidence suggests that sex steroids are important for human skin health. In particular, estrogen improves skin thickness, elasticity and moisture of older women. The major source of circulating estrogen is the ovary; however, local estrogen synthesis and secretion have important roles in, for example, bone metabolism and breast cancer development. We hypothesized that infiltrated peripheral monocytes are one of the sources of estrogen in skin tissues. We also hypothesized that, during atopic dermatitis under stress, a decline in the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA) and facilitation of the (hypothalamus)–sympathetic–adrenomedullary system (SAM) attenuates estrogen secretion from monocytes. Based on this hypothesis, we tested aromatase expression in the human peripheral monocyte-derived cell line THP-1 in response to the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone (Dex), the synthetic β-agonist isoproterenol (Iso) and the β-antagonist propranolol (Pro). Dex mimics glucocorticoid secreted during excitation of the HPA, and Iso mimics catecholamine secreted during excitation of the SAM. We found that aromatase activity and the CYP19A1 gene transcript were both upregulated in THP-1 cells in the presence of Dex. Addition of Iso induced their downregulation and further addition of Pro rescued aromatase expression. These results may suggest that attenuation of estrogen secretion from peripheral monocytes could be a part of the pathology of stress-caused deterioration of atopic dermatitis. Further examination using an in vitro human skin model including THP-1 cells might be a valuable tool for investigating the therapeutic efficacy and mechanism of estrogen treatment for skin health.
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Masatada Watanabe, Shuji Ohno, and Hiroshi Wachi
Luigi Laino, Silvia Majore, Nicoletta Preziosi, Barbara Grammatico, Carmelilia De Bernardo, Salvatore Scommegna, Anna Maria Rapone, Giacinto Marrocco, Irene Bottillo, and Paola Grammatico
Sex development is a process under genetic control directing both the bi-potential gonads to become either a testis or an ovary, and the consequent differentiation of internal ducts and external genitalia. This complex series of events can be altered by a large number of genetic and non-genetic factors. Disorders of sex development (DSD) are all the medical conditions characterized by an atypical chromosomal, gonadal, or phenotypical sex. Incomplete knowledge of the genetic mechanisms involved in sex development results in a low probability of determining the molecular definition of the genetic defect in many of the patients. In this study, we describe the clinical, cytogenetic, and molecular study of 88 cases with DSD, including 29 patients with 46,XY and disorders in androgen synthesis or action, 18 with 46,XX and disorders in androgen excess, 17 with 46,XY and disorders of gonadal (testicular) development, 11 classified as 46,XX other, eight with 46,XX and disorders of gonadal (ovarian) development, and five with sex chromosome anomalies. In total, we found a genetic variant in 56 out of 88 of them, leading to the clinical classification of every patient, and we outline the different steps required for a coherent genetic testing approach. In conclusion, our results highlight the fact that each category of DSD is related to a large number of different DNA alterations, thus requiring multiple genetic studies to achieve a precise etiological diagnosis for each patient.
Christian Trummer, Stefan Pilz, Verena Schwetz, Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch, and Elisabeth Lerchbaum
Accumulating evidence from animal and human studies suggests that vitamin D is involved in many functions of the reproductive system in both genders.
The aim of this review was to provide an overview on the effects of vitamin D on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women and androgen metabolism in men.
We performed a systematic literature search in PubMed for relevant English language publications published from January 2012 until September 2017.
Results and discussion
The vitamin D receptor and vitamin D-metabolizing enzymes are found in reproductive tissues of women and men. In women, vitamin D status has been associated with several features of PCOS. In detail, cross-sectional data suggest a regulatory role of vitamin D in PCOS-related aspects such as ovulatory dysfunction, insulin resistance as well as hyperandrogenism. Moreover, results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suggest that vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial for metabolic, endocrine and fertility aspects in PCOS. In men, vitamin D status has been associated with androgen levels and hypogonadism. Further, there is some evidence for a favorable effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone concentrations, although others failed to show a significant effect on testosterone levels.
In summary, vitamin D deficiency is associated with adverse fertility outcomes including PCOS and hypogonadism, but the evidence is insufficient to establish causality. High-quality RCTs are needed to further evaluate the effects of vitamin D supplementation in PCOS women as well as on androgen levels in men.
Maki Igarashi, Tadayuki Ayabe, Kiwako Yamamoto-Hanada, Keiko Matsubara, Hatoko Sasaki, Mayako Saito-Abe, Miori Sato, Nathan Mise, Akihiko Ikegami, Masayuki Shimono, Reiko Suga, Shouichi Ohga, Masafumi Sanefuji, Masako Oda, Hiroshi Mitsubuchi, Takehiro Michikawa, Shin Yamazaki, Shoji Nakayama, Yukihiro Ohya, and Maki Fukami
Ultra-sensitive hormone assays have detected slight sex differences in blood estradiol (E2) levels in young children before adrenarche. However, the origin of circulating E2 in these individuals remains unknown. This study aimed to clarify how E2 is produced in young girls before adrenarche.
This is a satellite project of the Japan Environment and Children’s Study organized by the National Institute for Environmental Studies.
We collected blood samples from healthy 6-year-old Japanese children (79 boys and 71 girls). Hormone measurements and data analysis were performed in the National Institute for Environmental Studies and the Medical Support Center of the Japan Environment and Children’s Study, respectively.
E2 and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels were significantly higher in girls than in boys, while dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) and testosterone levels were comparable between the two groups. Girls showed significantly higher E2/testosterone ratios than boys. In children of both sexes, a correlation was observed between E2 and testosterone levels and between testosterone and DHEA-S levels. Moreover, E2 levels were correlated with FSH levels only in girls.
The results indicate that in 6-year-old girls, circulating E2 is produced primarily in the ovary from adrenal steroids through FSH-induced aromatase upregulation. This study provides evidence that female-dominant E2 production starts several months or years before adrenarche. The biological significance of E2 biosynthesis in these young children needs to be clarified in future studies.
Teresa Vilariño-García, Antonio Pérez-Pérez, Esther Santamaría-López, Nicolás Prados, Manuel Fernández-Sánchez, and Víctor Sánchez-Margalet
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex metabolic disorder associated with ovulatory dysfunction, hyperandrogenism, obesity, and insulin resistance, that leads to subfertility. Sam68 is an RNA-binding protein with signaling functions that is ubiquitously expressed, including gonads. Sam68 is recruited to leptin signaling, mediating different leptin actions.
We aimed to investigate the role of Sam68 in leptin signaling, mediating the effect on aromatase expression in granulosa cells and the posible implication of Sam68 in the leptin resistance in PCOS.
Materials and methods
Granulosa cells were from healthy donors (n = 25) and women with PCOS (n = 25), within the age range of 20 to 40 years, from Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI), Seville, Spain. Sam68 expression was inhibited by siRNA method and overexpressed by expression vector. Expression level was analysed by qPCR and immunoblot. Statistical significance was assessed by ANOVA followed by different post-hoc tests. A P value of <0.05 was considered statistically significant.
We have found that leptin stimulation increases phosphorylation and expression level of Sam68 and aromatase in granulosa cells from normal donors. Downregulation of Sam68 expression resulted in a lower activation of MAPK and PI3K pathways in response to leptin, whereas overexpression of Sam68 increased leptin stimulation of signaling, enhancing aromatase expression. Granulosa cells from women with PCOS presented lower expression of Sam68 and were resistant to the leptin effect on aromatase expression.
These results suggest the participation of Sam68 in leptin receptor signaling, mediating the leptin effect on aromatase expression in granulosa cells, and point to a new target in leptin resistance in PCOS.
Hamidreza Mani, Yogini Chudasama, Michelle Hadjiconstantinou, Danielle H Bodicoat, Charlotte Edwardson, Miles J Levy, Laura J Gray, Janette Barnett, Heather Daly, Trevor A Howlett, Kamlesh Khunti, and Melanie J Davies
To evaluate the effectiveness of a structured education programmes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Single-centre, randomised controlled trial, testing a single exposure to a group-based, face-to-face, structured education programme. Inclusion criteria were women with PCOS, aged 18–49 years inclusive and body mass index ≥23 kg/m2 for black and minority ethnicities or ≥25 kg/m2 for white Europeans. Primary outcome was step-count/day at 12 months. Secondary outcomes included indices of physical activity, cardiovascular risk factors, quality of life (QoL) and illness perception (IP).
161 women were included (78 control, 83 intervention); 69% white; mean age 33.4 (s.d. 7.6) years, of whom 100 (48 intervention; 52 control) attended their 12-month visit (38% attrition). 77% of the intervention arm attended the education programme. No significant change in step-count was observed at 12 months (mean difference: +351 steps/day (95% confidence interval −481, +1183); P = 0.40). No differences were found in biochemical or anthropometric outcomes. The education programme improved participants’ IP in 2 dimensions: understanding their PCOS (P < 0.001) and sense of control (P < 0.01) and improved QoL in 3 dimensions: emotions (P < 0.05), fertility (P < 0.05), weight (P < 0.01) and general mental well-being (P < 0.01).
A single exposure to structured education programme did not increase physical activity or improve biochemical markers in overweight and obese women with PCOS. However, providing a structured education in parallel to routine medical treatment can be beneficial for participants’ understanding of their condition, reducing their anxiety and improving their QoL.
Kaisu Luiro, Kristiina Aittomäki, Pekka Jousilahti, and Juha S Tapanainen
To study the use of hormone therapy (HT), morbidity and reproductive outcomes of women with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) due to FSH-resistant ovaries (FSHRO).
A prospective follow-up study in a university-based tertiary clinic setting.
Twenty-six women with an inactivating A189V FSH receptor mutation were investigated by means of a health questionnaire and clinical examination. Twenty-two returned the health questionnaire and 14 were clinically examined. Main outcome measures in the health questionnaire were reported as HT, morbidity, medication and infertility treatment outcomes. In the clinical study, risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic syndrome (MetS) were compared to age-matched controls from a national population survey (FINRISK). Average number of controls was 326 per FSHRO subject (range 178–430). Bone mineral density and whole-body composition were analyzed with DXA. Psychological and sexual well-being was assessed with Beck Depression Inventory (BDI21), Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7 (GAD-7) and Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) questionnaires.
HT was initiated late (median 18 years of age) compared with normal puberty and the median time of use was shorter (20–22 years) than the normal fertile period. Osteopenia was detected in 9/14 of the FSHRO women despite HT. No major risk factors for CVD or diabetes were found.
HT of 20 years seems to be associated with a similar cardiovascular and metabolic risk factor profile as in the population control group. However, optimal bone health may require an early-onset and longer period of HT, which would better correspond to the natural fertile period.
Henrik Falhammar, Hedi Claahsen-van der Grinten, Nicole Reisch, Jolanta Slowikowska-Hilczer, Anna Nordenström, Robert Roehle, Claire Bouvattier, Baudewijntje P C Kreukels, Birgit Köhler, and on behalf of the dsd-LIFE group
The knowledge about health status in adults with disorder of sex development (DSD) is scarce.
Design and methods
A cross-sectional observational study in 14 European tertiary centers recruited 1040 participants (717 females, 311 males, 12 others) with DSD. Mean age was 32.4 ± 13.6 year (range 16–75). The cohort was divided into: Turner (n = 301), Klinefelter (n = 224), XY-DSD (n = 222), XX-DSD (excluding congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) and 46,XX males) (n = 21), 46,XX-CAH (n = 226) and 45,X/46,XY (n = 45). Perceived and objective health statuses were measured and compared to European control data.
In DSD, fair to very good general health was reported by 91.4% and only 8.6% reported (very) bad general health (controls 94.0% and 6.0%, P < 0.0001). Longstanding health issues other than DSD and feeling limited in daily life were reported in 51.0% and 38.6%, respectively (controls 24.5% and 13.8%, P < 0.0001 both). Any disorder except DSD was present in 84.3% (controls 24.6%, P < 0.0001). Males reported worse health than females. In the subgroup analysis, Klinefelter and 46,XX-DSD patients reported bad general health in 15.7% and 16.7%, respectively (Turner 3.2% and CAH 7.4%). Comorbidities were prevalent in all DSD subgroups but Klinefelter and Turner were most affected. Early diagnosis of DSD and a healthy lifestyle were associated with less comorbidities.
Overall, general health appeared to be good but a number of medical problems were reported, especially in Klinefelter and Turner. Early diagnosis of DSD and a healthy lifestyle seemed to be important. Lifelong follow-up at specialized centers is necessary.
Angela Köninger, Antonella Iannaccone, Ensar Hajder, Mirjam Frank, Boerge Schmidt, Ekkehard Schleussner, Rainer Kimmig, Alexandra Gellhaus, and Hans Dieplinger
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.
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.
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%.
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.
Feifei Cheng, Noel Yat Hey Ng, Claudia Ha Ting Tam, Yuying Zhang, Cadmon King Poo Lim, Guozhi Jiang, Alex Chi Wai Ng, Tiffany Tse Ling Yau, Lai Ping Cheung, Aimin Xu, Juliana C N Chan, and Ronald C W Ma
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. FGF19, FGF21 and lipocalin-2 have emerged as important markers of metabolic risk. This study aims to compare the levels of FGF19, FGF21 and lipocalin-2 between subjects with or without PCOS, and to investigate the relationship between proteins and diabetes progression. In this nested case–control cohort study, 128 Chinese PCOS women and 128 controls were recruited and followed-up. All subjects underwent the oral glucose tolerance test for the evaluation of glycaemic status. Baseline serum protein levels were measured using ELISA. Compared with controls, PCOS subjects had higher levels of FGF19 (P < 0.001) and FGF21 (P = 0.022), but had lower lipocalin-2 (P < 0.001). In total, 20.8% of PCOS and 9.2% of controls developed diabetes over a mean duration of 10.4 ± 1.2 and 11.3 ± 0.5 years, respectively. Logistic regression analyses suggested FGF19 was positively associated with diabetes progression in controls, after adjusting for age, follow-up duration, waist and fasting glucose (P = 0.026, odds ratio (OR) (95% CI): 7.4 (1.3–43.6)), and the positive relationship between FGF21 and diabetes progression in controls was attenuated by adjusting for age and follow-up duration (P = 0.183). Lipocalin-2 was positively correlated with diabetes progression in PCOS group (P = 0.026, OR (95% CI)): 2.5 (1.1–5.6)); however, this became attenuated after adjusting for waist and fasting glucose (P = 0.081). In conclusion, there is differential expression of FGF19, FGF21, and lipocalin-2 in PCOS. The serum level of FGF19, and FGF21 is associated with diabetes progression in women without PCOS, while lipocalin-2 was related to diabetes progression in PCOS women.