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Open access

Ferdinand Roelfsema, Peter Y Liu, Rebecca Yang, Paul Takahashi, and Johannes D Veldhuis


Interleukin-2 (IL-2), one of the proinflammatory cytokines, is used in the treatment of certain malignancies. In some studies, transient increases in cortisol and ACTH secretion occurred. Thus, this agent may be used as an experimental probe of adrenal cortisol secretion.


This study quantifies the effects of low and moderate doses of IL-2 on cortisol secretion and assesses the modulation by age, dose and body composition.


Mayo Clinical Translational Research Unit.


Study comprised 35 healthy men, 17 young and 18 older.


Randomized prospective double-blind saline-controlled study of IL-2 administration in two doses with concurrent 10-min blood sampling for 24 h.

Outcome measures:

Deconvolution analysis and approximate entropy of cortisol secretion.


Low-dose IL-2 administration increased nocturnal pulsatile cortisol secretion from 1460 ± 160 to 2120 ± 220 nmol/L/8 h in young subjects and from 1680 ± 105 to 1960 ± 125 nmol/L/8 h (treatment P < 0.0001, but more in young than older, P = 0.02). Comparable results were obtained for total cortisol secretion (P treatment <0.0001, age effect P = 0.005). The higher IL-2 dose caused a large increase in young (P < 0.0001), but not in older (P = 0.90) subjects. This dose also increased approximate entropy from 0.877 ± 0.041 to 1.024 ± 0.049 (P = 0.008), pointing to reduced secretory orderliness. Incremental cortisol (nocturnal) secretion correlated negatively with visceral fat mass (R = −0.41, P = 0.019).


In healthy men, IL-2 injection drives pulsatile cortisol secretion in a dose-dependent way in young, but not older, individuals and erodes cortisol secretory orderliness at a higher dose in young subjects. Cortisol responses are diminished with increasing abdominal visceral fat mass.

Open access

Sofia S Pereira, Tiago Morais, Madalena M Costa, Mariana P Monteiro, and Duarte Pignatelli

Malignant adrenocortical tumors (ACTs) are rare and highly aggressive; conversely, benign tumors are common and frequently found incidentally (the so-called incidentalomas). Currently, the use of molecular markers in the diagnosis of ACTs is still controversial. The aim of this study was to analyze the molecular profile of different ACTs with the purpose of identifying markers useful for differentiating between these tumors. The ACTs that were studied (n=31) included nonfunctioning adenomas (ACAn)/incidentalomas (n=13), functioning adenomas with Cushing's syndrome (ACAc) (n=7), and carcinomas (n=11); normal adrenal glands (n=12) were used as controls. For each sample, the percentage area stained for the markers StAR, IGF2, IGF1R, p53, MDM2, p21, p27, cyclin D1, Ki-67, β-catenin, and E-cadherin was quantified using a morphometric computerized tool. IGF2, p27, cyclin D1, and Ki-67 were the markers for which the percentage of stained area was significantly higher in carcinoma samples than in adenoma samples. Ki-67 and p27 were the markers that exhibited the highest discriminative power for differential diagnosis between carcinomas and all type of adenomas, while IGF2 and StAR were only found to be useful for differentiating between carcinomas and ACAn and between carcinomas and ACAc respectively. The usefulness of Ki-67 has been recognized before in the differential diagnosis of malignant tumors. The additional use of p27 as an elective marker to distinguish benign ACTs from malignant ACTs should be considered.

Open access

Britt J van Keulen, Conor V Dolan, Bibian van der Voorn, Ruth Andrew, Brian R Walker, Hilleke Hulshoff Pol, Dorret I Boomsma, Joost Rotteveel, and Martijn J J Finken


Sex differences in disease susceptibility might be explained by sexual dimorphism in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity, which has been postulated to emerge during puberty. However, studies conducted thus far lacked an assessment of Tanner pubertal stage. This study aimed to assess the contribution of pubertal development to sexual dimorphism in cortisol production and metabolism.


Participants (n = 218) were enrolled from a population-based Netherlands Twin Register. At the ages of 9, 12 and 17 years, Tanner pubertal stage was assessed and early morning urine samples were collected. Cortisol metabolites were measured with GC-MS/MS and ratios were calculated, representing cortisol metabolism enzyme activities, such as A-ring reductases, 11β-HSDs and CYP3A4. Cortisol production and metabolism parameters were compared between sexes for pre-pubertal (Tanner stage 1), early pubertal (Tanner stage 2–3) and late-pubertal (Tanner stage 4–5) stages.


Cortisol metabolite excretion rate decreased with pubertal maturation in both sexes, but did not significantly differ between sexes at any pubertal stage, although in girls a considerable decrease was observed between early and late-pubertal stage (P < 0.001). A-ring reductase activity was similar between sexes at pre- and early pubertal stages and was lower in girls than in boys at late-pubertal stage. Activities of 11β-HSDs were similar between sexes at pre-pubertal stage and favored cortisone in girls at early and late-pubertal stages. Cytochrome P450 3A4 activity did not differ between sexes.


Prepubertally, sexes were similar in cortisol parameters. During puberty, as compared to boys, in girls the activities of A-ring reductases declined and the balance between 11β-HSDs progressively favored cortisone. In addition, girls showed a considerable decrease in cortisol metabolite excretion rate between early and late-pubertal stages. Our findings suggest that the sexual dimorphism in cortisol may either be explained by rising concentrations of sex steroids or by puberty-induced changes in body composition.

Open access

Marloes L P Langelaan, Jérôme M H Kisters, Mirjam M Oosterwerff, and Arjen-Kars Boer

Saliva as a diagnostic tool is patient friendly and offers analytical advantages. Hormonal analysis of saliva is not influenced by changes in concentrations of binding globulins as the free concentration of the hormones is measured. Analysis of salivary cortisol is common practice in the diagnostic work-up of hypercortisolism. We investigated the potential role of measuring salivary cortisol when adrenal insufficiency (AI) is suspected, to reduce the numbers of ACTH stimulation tests. Over a period of 6 years, patients undergoing an ACTH stimulation test (tetracosactide, 250 µg) in our hospital were included. Plasma cortisol (Elecsys, Cobas, Roche Diagnostics) and salivary cortisol and cortisone (LC–MS/MS) were determined at t = 0, 30 and 60 min after stimulation. Based on peak plasma cortisol levels, AI was ruled out in 113 patients and was established in 16 patients. Patients without AI displayed maximal salivary cortisol concentrations of 12.6–123.4 nmol/L (95th percentile) after stimulation, as opposed to 0.5–15.2 nmol/L in AI patients. At t = 0 min, a minimal salivary cortisol concentration of 1.0 nmol/L was observed in patients without AI, whereas AI patients had a maximum concentration of 5.9 nmol/L. Using these cut-off values, 34% of the initial patient group could be diagnosed without an ACTH stimulation test (28% >5.9 nmol/L, 6% <1.0 nmol/L). A novel diagnostic algorithm, including early morning salivary cortisol analysis can reduce the numbers of ACTH stimulation tests in patients suspected of AI. This patient-friendly method can thereby reduce total health care costs.

Open access

Dorte Glintborg, Magda Lambaa Altinok, Pernille Ravn, Kurt Bjerregaard Stage, Kurt Højlund, and Marianne Andersen


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with insulin resistance, adrenal hyperactivity and decreased mental health. We aimed to investigate the changes in adrenal activity, metabolic status and mental health in PCOS during treatment with escitalopram or placebo.


Forty-two overweight premenopausal women with PCOS and no clinical depression were randomized to 12-week SSRI (20 mg escitalopram/day, n = 21) or placebo (n = 21). Patients underwent clinical examination, fasting blood samples, adrenocorticotroph hormone (ACTH) test, 3-h oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and filled in questionnaires regarding mental health and health-related quality of life (HRQoL): WHO Well-Being Index (WHO-5), Major Depression Inventory (MDI), Short Form 36 (SF-36) and PCOS questionnaire.


Included women were aged 31 (6) years (mean (s.d.)) and had body mass index (BMI) 35.8 (6.5) kg/m2 and waist 102 (12) cm. Escitalopram was associated with increased waist (median (quartiles) change 1 (0; 3) cm), P = 0.005 vs change during placebo and increased cortisol levels (cortisol 0, cortisol 60, peak cortisol and area under the curve for cortisol during ACTH test), all P< 0.05 vs changes during placebo. Escitalopram had no significant effect on measures of insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion, fasting lipids, mental health or HRQoL.


Waist circumference and cortisol levels increased during treatment with escitalopram in women with PCOS and no clinical depression, whereas metabolic risk markers, mental health and HRQol were unchanged.

Open access

Kush Dev Singh Jarial, Anil Bhansali, Vivek Gupta, Paramjeet Singh, Kanchan K Mukherjee, Akhilesh Sharma, Rakesh K Vashishtha, Suja P Sukumar, Naresh Sachdeva, and Rama Walia


Bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling (BIPSS) using hCRH is currently considered the ‘gold standard’ test for the differential diagnosis of ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome (CS). Vasopressin is more potent than CRH to stimulate ACTH secretion as shown in animal studies; however, no comparative data of its use are available during BIPSS.


To study the diagnostic accuracy and comparison of hCRH and lysine vasopressin (LVP) stimulation during BIPSS.

Patients and methods

29 patients (27-Cushing’s disease, 2-ectopic CS; confirmed on histopathology) underwent BIPSS and were included for the study. Patients were randomized to receive hCRH, 5 U LVP or 10 U LVP during BIPSS for ACTH stimulation. BIPSS and contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (CEMRI) were compared with intra-operative findings of trans-sphenoidal surgery (TSS) for localization and lateralization of the ACTH source.


BIPSS correctly localized the source of ACTH excess in 29/29 of the patients with accuracy of 26/26 patients, using any of the agent, whereas sensitivity and PPV for lateralization with hCRH, 5 U LVP and 10 U LVP was seen in 10/10, 6/10; 10/10,8/10 and 7/7,6/7 patients respectively. Concordance of BIPSS with TSS was seen in 20/27, CEMRI with BIPSS in 16/24 and CEMRI with TSS in 18/24 of patients for lateralizing the adenoma. Most of the side effects were transient and were comparable in all the three groups.


BIPSS using either hCRH or LVP (5 U or 10 U) confirmed the source of ACTH excess in all the patients, while 10 U LVP correctly lateralized the pituitary adenoma in three fourth of the patients.

Open access

Yue-Yue Wang, Qian Wu, Lu Chen, Wen Chen, Tao Yang, Xiao-Quan Xu, Fei-Yun Wu, Hao Hu, and Huan-Huan Chen


To evaluate the value of MRI-based texture analysis of extraocular muscle (EOM) and orbital fat (OF) in monitoring and predicting the response to glucocorticoid (GC) therapy in patients with thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO).


Thirty-seven active and moderate-to-severe TAO patients (responders, n = 23; unresponders, n = 14) were retrospectively enrolled. MRI-based texture parameters (entropy, uniformity, skewness and kurtosis) of EOM and OF were measured before and after GC therapy, and compared between groups. Correlations between the changes of clinical activity score (CAS) and imaging parameters before and after treatment were assessed. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to evaluate the predictive value of identified variables.


Responsive TAOs showed significantly decreased entropy and increased uniformity at EOM and OF after GC therapy (P < 0.01), while unresponders showed no significance. Changes of entropy and uniformity at EOM and OF were significantly correlated with changes of CAS before and after treatment (P < 0.05). Responders showed significantly lower entropy and higher uniformity at EOM than unresponders before treatment (P < 0.01). Entropy and uniformity of EOM and disease duration were identified as independent predictors for responsive TAOs. Combination of all three variables demonstrated optimal efficiency (area under curve, 0.802) and sensitivity (82.6%), and disease duration alone demonstrated optimal specificity (100%) for predicting responsive TAOs.


MRI-based texture analysis can reflect histopathological heterogeneity of orbital tissues. It could be useful for monitoring and predicting the response to GC in TAO patients.

Open access

Chunliang Yang, Junyi Li, Fei Sun, Haifeng Zhou, Jia Yang, and Chao Yang

Hyperglycemia is the consequence of blood glucose dysregulation and a driving force of diabetic complications including retinopathy, nephropathy and cardiovascular diseases. The serum and glucocorticoid inducible kinase-1 (SGK1) has been suggested in the modulation of various pathophysiological activities. However, the role of SGK1 in blood glucose homeostasis remains less appreciated. In this review, we intend to summarize the function of SGK1 in glucose level regulation and to examine the evidence supporting the therapeutic potential of SGK1 inhibitors in hyperglycemia. Ample evidence points to the controversial roles of SGK1 in pancreatic insulin secretion and peripheral insulin sensitivity, which reflects the complex interplay between SGK1 activation and blood glucose fluctuation. Furthermore, SGK1 is engaged in glucose absorption and excretion in intestine and kidney and participates in the progression of hyperglycemia-induced secondary organ damage. As a net effect, blockage of SGK1 activation via either pharmacological inhibition or genetic manipulation seems to be helpful in glucose control at varying diabetic stages.

Open access

Iulia Soare, Anca Sirbu, Mihai Mircea Diculescu, Bogdan Radu Mateescu, Cristian Tieranu, Sorina Martin, Carmen Gabriela Barbu, Mirela Ionescu, and Simona Fica

Background and aim

Low bone mineral density (BMD) is a common complication in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, debates are ongoing with regard to the other involved factors, especially in younger patients. This study aimed to evaluate the parameters that contribute to decreased BMD, focusing on premenopausal women and men aged <50 years.


This study included 81 patients with IBD and 81 age-, sex- and BMI-matched controls. Blood tests were conducted on IBD patients, and a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan was performed on both groups.


Low BMD and fragility fracture were found to be more prevalent in IBD patients than in healthy subjects (49.3% vs 23.4%, P = 0.001 and 9.8% vs 1.2%, P = 0.01, respectively). Patients with low BMD were older, with a longer disease duration, higher faecal calprotectin (FC) levels and lower magnesium and lean mass (appreciated as appendicular skeletal muscle index (ASMI)). Multiple regression analysis revealed that ASMI, age and use of glucocorticoids were the independent parameters for decreased BMD. Although 91.3% of the patients had a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of <30 ng/mL, it was not a statistically significant factor for decreased BMD.


In our study, the levels of vitamin D did not seem to have an important impact on BMD. Conversely, FC, magnesium and lean mass are important factors, suggesting that good control of disease, adequate magnesium intake and increased lean mass can have a good impact on bone metabolism in patients with IBD.

Open access

C E Higham, A Olsson-Brown, P Carroll, T Cooksley, J Larkin, P Lorigan, D Morganstein, P J Trainer, and the Society for Endocrinology Clinical Committee

Immunotherapy treatment with checkpoint inhibitors (CPI) (CTLA-4 and PD-1 inhibitors) significantly improves survival in a number of cancers. Treatment can be limited by immune-mediated adverse effects including endocrinopathies such as hypophysitis, adrenalitis, thyroiditis and diabetes mellitus. If endocrinopathies (particularly hypocortisolemia) are not recognized early, they can be fatal. The diagnosis and management of endocrinopathies can be complicated by simultaneous multi-organ immune adverse effects. Here, we present Endocrine Emergency Guidance for the acute management of the endocrine complications of checkpoint inhibitor therapy, the first specialty-specific guidance with Endocrinology, Oncology and Acute Medicine input and endorsed by the Society for Endocrinology Clinical Committee. We present algorithms for management: endocrine assessment and management of patients in the first 24 hours who present life-threateningly unwell (CTCAE grade 3–4) and the appropriate management of mild-moderately unwell patients (CTCAE grade 1–2) presenting with features compatible with an endocrinopathy. Other important considerations in relation to hypohysitis and the maintenance of glucocorticoid therapy are discussed.