In this commentary, we discuss the state of affairs concerning the clinical care of females with Turner syndrome (TS) in Germany. TS is a rare disease and new international guidelines describe an appropriate setup for optimal clinical care. Several countries have implemented a program with centralized adult Turner syndrome clinics, which are now found in France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, parts of England and possibly other countries, but hitherto not in Germany. Such an approach should ensure the availability of high quality multi-disciplinary care for all women with TS to be treated and to detect all the conditions that have been associated with TS, which typically appear at odd times during the lifetime of a female with TS. Care should be offered at no added cost for the patient, and treatment with relevant drugs should be available at reasonable cost for the individual patient. Currently, it is quite problematic that many female sex hormone preparations are not available at low cost in a number of countries. Additional problems include supply chain issue which lead to patients not being able to buy their usual drug for a certain period of time. We think it is timely that countries improve the care for individuals with rare conditions, such as TS.
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Mette H Viuff and Claus H Gravholt
Rossella Cannarella, Andrea Crafa, Sandro La Vignera, Rosita A Condorelli, and Aldo E Calogero
Animal studies suggest that insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) may influence the function of the hypothalamus–pituitary–testicular axis, especially in childhood, but the evidence in humans is scanty. Laron syndrome, a human model of IGF1 deficiency, may help to solve this issue.
This systematic review aims to analyze puberty onset and progression, testicular volume, gonadotropin, and total testosterone serum levels, sperm parameters and fertility, and penile length in patients with Laron syndrome.
Specific keywords were used. All data on male patients with Laron syndrome were included.
Seventeen articles matched the inclusion criteria and were entered in the analysis, for a total of 125 male patients. Puberty was absent in 8.9% and delayed in 35.6% of untreated patients of pubertal age. After onset, the duration of the pubertal process was prolonged in 76.9% of untreated patients. The growth spurt was absent in 52.6% and delayed in 31.6% of untreated patients. The testicular volume was small in the two patients who did not receive any treatment. Treatment with IGF1 increased gonadotropin and testosterone serum levels in five out of five patients of pubertal age. No effect was found in four out of four patients younger than 5 years. No study reported data on sperm parameters and fertility. Micropenis occurred in 67.2% of patients.
Conclusion and future perspectives
Delayed puberty is common in patients with Laron syndrome. The growth hormone–IGF1 axis may influence the time of puberty onset. Serum levels of IGF1 should be investigated in children with delayed puberty, scarce progression of testicular growth, and/or micropenis. IGF1 levels might be measured in children with delayed puberty, poor testicular growth, and/or micropenis.
Caroline Culen, Diana-Alexandra Ertl, Katharina Schubert, Lisa Bartha-Doering, and Gabriele Haeusler
Turner syndrome (TS), although considered a rare disease, is the most common sex chromosome abnormality in women, with an incident of 1 in 2500 female births. TS is characterized by distinctive physical features such as short stature, ovarian dysgenesis, an increased risk for heart and renal defects as well as a specific cognitive and psychosocial phenotype. Given the complexity of the condition, patients face manifold difficulties which increase over the lifespan. Furthermore, failures during the transitional phase to adult care result in moderate health outcomes and decreased quality of life. Guidelines on the optimal screening procedures and medical treatment are easy to find. However, recommendations for the treatment of the incriminating psychosocial aspects in TS are scarce. In this work, we first reviewed the literature on the cognitive and psychosocial development of girls with TS compared with normal development, from disclosure to young adulthood, and then introduce a psychosocial approach to counseling and treating patients with TS, including recommendations for age-appropriate psychological diagnostics. With this work, we aim to facilitate the integration of emphasized psychosocial care in state-of-the-art treatment for girls and women with TS.
Diana-Alexandra Ertl, Andreas Gleiss, Katharina Schubert, Caroline Culen, Peer Hauck, Johannes Ott, Alois Gessl, and Gabriele Haeusler
Previous studies have shown that only a minority of patients with Turner syndrome (TS) have adequate medical care after transfer to adult care.
Aim of this study
To assess the status of medical follow-up and quality of life (QoL) in adult women diagnosed with TS and followed up until transfer. To compare the subjective and objective view of the medical care quality and initiate improvements based on patients’ experiences and current recommendations.
39 adult women with TS out of 64 patients contacted were seen for a clinical and laboratory check, cardiac ultrasound, standardized and structured questionnaires (SF-36v2 and Beck depression inventory).
7/39 of the patients were not being followed medically at all. Only 2/39 consulted all the specialists recommended. Comorbidities were newly diagnosed in 27/39 patients; of these, 11 related to the cardiovascular system. Patients in our cohort scored as high as the mean reference population for SF-36v2 in both mental and physical compartments. Obese participants had lower scores in the physical function section, whereas higher education was related to higher physical QoL scores. Adult height slightly correlated positively with physical health.
Medical follow-up was inadequate in our study cohort of adults with TS. Even though their medical follow-up was insufficient, these women felt adequately treated, leaving them vulnerable for premature illness. Initiatives in health autonomy and a structured transfer process as well as closer collaborations within specialities are urgently needed.
María Dolores Rodríguez Arnao, Amparo Rodríguez Sánchez, Ignacio Díez López, Joaquín Ramírez Fernández, Jose Antonio Bermúdez de la Vega, Diego Yeste Fernández, María Chueca Guindulain, Raquel Corripio Collado, Jacobo Pérez Sánchez, Ana Fernández González, and ECOS Spain Study Collaborative Investigator Group
Non-adherence to r-hGH treatments occurs in a variable percentage of subjects. One problem found when evaluating adherence is the great variability in methods of detection and definitions utilized in studies. This study assessed the level of adherence in subjects receiving r-hGH with the easypod™ electronic device.
National, multicenter, prospective and observational study involving 238 subjects (144 with GH deficiency (GHD), and 86 with small for gestational age (SGA), 8 with Turner Syndrome), who received r-hGH with easypod™ for at least 3 months before inclusion. The follow-up period was 4 years.
Overall adherence was 94.5%; 97.5% after 6 months, 95.3% after 1 year, 93.7% after 2, 94.4% after 3 and 95.5% after 4 years of treatment. No differences in adherence were observed between prepubertal and pubertal groups and GHD and SGA groups. Change in height after 1 and 2 years, change in height SDS after 1 and 2 years, HV after 1 year, HV SDS after at 1 and 4 years, change in BMI after 1 year and change in BMI SDS at 1 and 2 years showed significant correlation with adherence. No significant differences in adherence according to IGF-I levels were found in follow-up visits or between groups.
The easypod™ electronic device, apart from being a precise and objective measure of adherence to r-hGH treatment, allows high compliance rates to be achieved over long periods of time. Adherence significantly impacts growth outcomes associated with r-hGH treatment.
Ping Li, Fei Cheng, and Lei Xiu
This study sought to determine the effect of the recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) treatment of Turner syndrome (TS) on height outcome.
We searched in MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. A literature search identified 640 records. After screening and full-text assessment, 11 records were included in the systematic review. Methodological quality was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. RevMan 5.3 software was used for meta-analysis. We also assessed the quality of evidence with the GRADE system.
Compared with controls, rhGH therapy led to increased final height (MD = 7.22 cm, 95% CI 5.27–9.18, P < 0.001, I2 = 4%; P = 0.18), height standard deviation (HtSDS) (SMD = 1.22, 95% CI 0.88–1.56, P < 0.001, I2 = 49%; P = 0.14) and height velocity (HV) (MD 2.68 cm/year; 95% CI 2.34, 3.02; P < 0.001, I2 = 0%; P = 0.72). There was a small increase in bone age (SMD 0.32 years; 95% CI 0.1, 0.54; P = 0.004, I2 = 73%; P = 0.02) after rhGH therapy for 12 months. What is more, the rhGH/oxandrolone combination therapy suggested greater final height (MD 2.46 cm; 95% CI 0.73, 4.18; P = 0.005, I2 = 32%; P = 0.22), increase and faster HV (SMD 1.67 cm/year; 95% CI 1.03, 2.31; P < 0.03, I2 = 80%; P < 0.001), with no significant increase in HtSDS and bone maturation compared with rhGH therapy alone.
For TS patients, rhGH alone or with concomitant use of oxandrolone treatment had advantages on final height.
D Santi, A R M Granata, and M Simoni
The aim of this study is to comprehensively evaluate whether FSH administration to the male partner of infertile couples improves pregnancy rate, spontaneously and/or after assisted reproductive techniques (ART).
Meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials in which FSH was administered for male idiopathic infertility, compared with placebo or no treatment. Randomization was not considered as an inclusion criterion.
We found 15 controlled clinical studies (614 men treated with FSH and 661 treated with placebo or untreated). Concerning the type of FSH, eight studies used recombinant FSH, whereas seven studies used purified FSH. Nine studies evaluated spontaneous pregnancy rate, resulting in an overall odds ratio (OR) of about 4.5 (CI: 2.17–9.33). Eight studies evaluated pregnancy rate after ART, showing a significant OR of 1.60 (CI: 1.08–2.37). Sub-dividing studies according to the FSH preparations (purified/recombinant), pregnancy rate improvement remained significant for each preparation. Eleven studies considered sperm quality after FSH treatment, finding a significant improvement of sperm concentration (2.66×106/ml, CI: 0.47–4.84), but not of concentration of sperm with progressive motility (1.22×106/ml, CI: −0.07 to 2.52). Three trials evaluated testicular volume, showing a non-significant increase in men treated (1.35 ml, CI: −0.44 to 3.14).
The results of controlled clinical trials available in the literature indicate an improvement of pregnancy rate after FSH administration to the male partner of infertile couples, both spontaneously and after ART. However, the heterogeneity of studies, the high risk of bias and the lack of precise criteria to guide FSH administration limit the strength of these results. Future studies should be designed to identify the markers of FSH response which are helpful in the decision-making process. Meanwhile, the use of FSH in the treatment of male infertility should be cautious.
Jan-Bernd Stukenborg, Kirsi Jahnukainen, Marsida Hutka, and Rod T Mitchell
Testicular function and future fertility may be affected by cancer treatment during childhood. Whilst survival of the germ (stem) cells is critical for ensuring the potential for fertility in these patients, the somatic cell populations also play a crucial role in providing a suitable environment to support germ cell maintenance and subsequent development. Regulation of the spermatogonial germ-stem cell niche involves many signalling pathways with hormonal influence from the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis. In this review, we describe the somatic cell populations that comprise the testicular germ-stem cell niche in humans and how they may be affected by cancer treatment during childhood. We also discuss the experimental models that may be utilized to manipulate the somatic environment and report the results of studies that investigate the potential role of somatic cells in the protection of the germ cells in the testis from cancer treatment.
Jens F Rehfeld
The birth certificate for endocrinology was Bayliss’ and Starling’s demonstration in 1902 that regulation of bodily functions is not only neuronal but also due to blood-borne messengers. Starling named these messengers hormones. Since then transport via blood has defined hormones. This definition, however, may be too narrow. Thus, today we know that several peptide hormones are not only produced and released to blood from endocrine cells but also released from neurons, myocytes, immune cells, endothelial cells, spermatogenic cells, fat cells, etc. And they are often secreted in cell-specific molecular forms with more or less different spectra of activity. The present review depicts this development with the story about cholecystokinin which was discovered in 1928 as a hormone and still in 1976 was conceived as a single blood-borne peptide. Today’s multifaceted picture of cholecystokinin suggests that time may be ripe for expansion of the hormone concept to all messenger molecules, which activate their target cells – irrespective of their road to the target (endocrine, neurocrine, neuronal, paracrine, autocrine, etc.) and irrespective of their kind of activity as classical hormone, growth factor, neurotransmitter, adipokine, cytokine, myokine, or fertility factor.
A Rehfeld, D L Egeberg, K Almstrup, J H Petersen, S Dissing, and N E Skakkebæk
Human sperm cell function must be precisely regulated to achieve natural fertilization. Progesterone released by the cumulus cells surrounding the egg induces a Ca2+ influx into human sperm cells via the CatSper Ca2+-channel and thereby controls sperm function. Multiple chemical UV filters have been shown to induce a Ca2+ influx through CatSper, thus mimicking the effect of progesterone on Ca2+ signaling. We hypothesized that these UV filters could also mimic the effect of progesterone on sperm function. We examined 29 UV filters allowed in sunscreens in the US and/or EU for their ability to affect acrosome reaction, penetration, hyperactivation and viability in human sperm cells. We found that, similar to progesterone, the UV filters 4-MBC, 3-BC, Meradimate, Octisalate, BCSA, HMS and OD-PABA induced acrosome reaction and 3-BC increased sperm penetration into a viscous medium. The capacity of the UV filters to induce acrosome reaction and increase sperm penetration was positively associated with the ability of the UV filters to induce a Ca2+ influx. None of the UV filters induced significant changes in the proportion of hyperactivated cells. In conclusion, chemical UV filters that mimic the effect of progesterone on Ca2+ signaling in human sperm cells can similarly mimic the effect of progesterone on acrosome reaction and sperm penetration. Human exposure to these chemical UV filters may impair fertility by interfering with sperm function, e.g. through induction of premature acrosome reaction. Further studies are needed to confirm the results in vivo.