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Open access

Giovanni Tulipano

A variety of endocrine and metabolic signals regulate pituitary cell function acting through the hypothalamus-pituitary neuroendocrine axes or directly at the pituitary level. The underlying intracellular transduction mechanisms in pituitary cells are still debated. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) functions as a cellular sensor of low energy stores in all mammalian cells and promotes adaptive changes in response to calorie restriction. It is also regarded as a target for therapy of proliferative disorders. Various hormones and drugs can promote tissue-specific activation or inhibition of AMPK by enhancing or inhibiting AMPK phosphorylation, respectively. This review explores the preclinical studies published in the last decade that investigate the role of AMP-activated protein kinase in the intracellular transduction pathways downstream of endocrine and metabolic signals or drugs affecting pituitary cell function, and its role as a target for drug therapy of pituitary proliferative disorders. The effects of the hypoglycemic agent metformin, which is an indirect AMPK activator, are discussed. The multiple effects of metformin on cell metabolism and cell signalling and ultimately on cell function may be either dependent or independent of AMPK. The in vitro effects of metformin may also help highlighting differences in metabolic requirements between pituitary adenomatous cells and normal cells.

Open access

Rachel K Rowe, Benjamin M Rumney, Hazel G May, Paska Permana, P David Adelson, S Mitchell Harman, Jonathan Lifshitz, and Theresa C Thomas

As many as 20–55% of patients with a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience chronic endocrine dysfunction, leading to impaired quality of life, impaired rehabilitation efforts and lowered life expectancy. Endocrine dysfunction after TBI is thought to result from acceleration–deceleration forces to the brain within the skull, creating enduring hypothalamic and pituitary neuropathology, and subsequent hypothalamic–pituitary endocrine (HPE) dysfunction. These experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that a single diffuse TBI results in chronic dysfunction of corticosterone (CORT), a glucocorticoid released in response to stress and testosterone. We used a rodent model of diffuse TBI induced by midline fluid percussion injury (mFPI). At 2months postinjury compared with uninjured control animals, circulating levels of CORT were evaluated at rest, under restraint stress and in response to dexamethasone, a synthetic glucocorticoid commonly used to test HPE axis regulation. Testosterone was evaluated at rest. Further, we assessed changes in injury-induced neuron morphology (Golgi stain), neuropathology (silver stain) and activated astrocytes (GFAP) in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. Resting plasma CORT levels were decreased at 2months postinjury and there was a blunted CORT increase in response to restraint induced stress. No changes in testosterone were measured. These changes in CORT were observed concomitantly with altered complexity of neuron processes in the PVN over time, devoid of neuropathology or astrocytosis. Results provide evidence that a single moderate diffuse TBI leads to changes in CORT function, which can contribute to the persistence of symptoms related to endocrine dysfunction. Future experiments aim to evaluate additional HP-related hormones and endocrine circuit pathology following diffuse TBI.

Open access

M Jensterle, A Podbregar, K Goricar, N Gregoric, and A Janez

Lifestyle measures (LSMs) should be the first-line approach offered for obesity-related functional hypogonadism (FH). When LSMs fail, the role of testosterone replacement treatment (TRT) is unclear. GLP1 receptor agonist liraglutide is linked to progressive and sustained weight loss. A potential direct impact of GLP1 on hypothalamus-pituitary-testicular (HPT) axis was reported in animal models. We aimed to compare the effects of liraglutide and TRT on FH in obese men that had been poor responders to LSM, by means of reversal of FH and weight reduction. We designed a 16-week prospective randomized open-label study with 30 men (aged 46.5 ± 10.9 years, BMI 41.2 ± 8.4 kg/m2, mean ± s.d.) that were randomized to liraglutide 3.0 mg QD (LIRA) or 50 mg of 1% transdermal gel QD (TRT). Sexual function and anthropometric measures were assessed. Fasting blood was drawn for determination of endocrine and metabolic parameters followed by OGTT. Model-derived parameters including HOMAIR and calculated free testosterone (cFT) were calculated. Total testosterone significantly increased in both arms (+5.9 ± 7.2 in TRT vs +2.6 ± 3.5 nmol/L in LIRA) and led to improved sexual function. LIRA resulted in a significant increase of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) (P < 0.001 for between-treatment effect). Subjects treated with LIRA lost on average 7.9 ± 3.8  kg compared with a 0.9 ± 4.5  kg loss in TRT (P < 0.001). Metabolic syndrome was resolved in two patients in LIRA and in no subjects in TRT. Liraglutide was superior to TRT in improving an overall health benefit in men with obesity-associated FH after LSM failed.

Open access

Lian Hollander-Cohen, Benjamin Böhm, Krist Hausken, and Berta Levavi-Sivan

The pituitary gonadotropins, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), are the principle endocrine drivers of reproductive processes in the gonads of jawed vertebrates. Canonically, FSH recruits and maintains selected ovarian follicles for maturation and LH induces the stages of germinal vesicle breakdown and ovulation. In mammals, LH and FSH specifically activate cognate G-protein-coupled receptors that affect the proteins involved in steroidogenesis, protein hormone synthesis, and gametogenesis. This dual-gonadotropin model also exists in some fish species, but not in all. In fact, due to their diverse number of species, extended number of ecological niches, and remarkably flexible reproductive strategies, fish are appropriate as models to understand the co-evolution of gonadotropins and their receptors. In this study, we cloned and characterized the expression profile over the final stages of ovarian maturation of carp (Cyprinus carpio) LHCGR and FSHR. Expression of both gonadotropin receptors increased in the later stage of early vitellogenesis, suggesting that both LH and FSH play a role in the development of mature follicles. We additionally tested the activation of cLHCGR and cFSHR using homologous and heterologous recombinant gonadotropins in order to gain insight into an evolutionary model of permissive gonadotropin receptor function. These data suggest that carp (Cyprinus carpio) gonad development and maturation depends on a specific gonadotropin profile that does not reflect the temporally distinct dual-gonadotropin model observed in salmonids or mammals, and that permissive gonadotropin receptor activation is a specific feature of Ostariophysi, not all teleosts.

Open access

Mikkel Andreassen, Anders Juul, Ulla Feldt-Rasmussen, and Niels Jørgensen

Objective

Gonadotropins (luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)) are released from the pituitary gland and stimulate Leydig cells to produce testosterone and initiates spermatogenesis. Little is known about how and when the deterioration of semen quality occurs in patients with adult-onset gonadotropin insufficiency.

Design and methods

A retrospective study comprising 20 testosterone-deficient men (median age, 29 years) with acquired pituitary disease who delivered semen for cryopreservation before initiation of testosterone therapy. Semen variables and hormone concentrations were compared to those of young healthy men (n = 340).

Results

Thirteen of 20 patients (65%) and 82% of controls had total sperm counts above 39 million and progressive motile spermatozoa above 32% (P = 0.05). For the individual semen variables, there were no significant differences in semen volume (median (intraquartile range) 3.0 (1.3–6.8) vs 3.2 (2.3–4.3) mL, P = 0.47), sperm concentration 41 (11–71) vs 43 (22–73) mill/mL (P = 0.56) or total sperm counts (P = 0.66). One patient had azoospermia. Patients vs controls had lower serum testosterone 5.4 (2.2–7.6) vs 19.7 (15.5–24.5) nmol/L (P = 0.001), calculated free testosterone (cfT) 145 (56–183) vs 464 (359–574) pmol/L (P < 0.001), LH 1.5 (1.1–2.1) vs 3.1 (2.3–4.0) U/L (P = 0.002) and inhibin b (P < 0.001). Levels of FSH were similar (P = 0.63). Testosterone/LH ratio and cfT/LH ratio were reduced in patients (both P < 0.001).

Conclusions

Despite Leydig cell insufficiency in patients with acquired pituitary insufficiency, the majority presented with normal semen quality based on the determination of the number of progressively motile spermatozoa. In addition, the data suggest reduced LH bioactivity in patients with pituitary insufficiency.

Open access

Ananda A Santana-Ribeiro, Giulliani A Moreira-Brasileiro, Manuel H Aguiar-Oliveira, Roberto Salvatori, Vitor O Carvalho, Claudia K Alvim-Pereira, Carlos R Araújo-Daniel, Júlia G Reis-Costa, Alana L Andrade-Guimarães, Alécia A Oliveira-Santos, Edgar R Vieira, and Miburge B Gois-Junior

Objectives

Walking and postural balance are extremely important to obtain food and to work. Both are critical for quality of life and ability to survive. While walking reflects musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary systems, postural balance depends on body size, muscle tone, visual, vestibular and nervous systems. Since GH and IGF-I act on all these systems, we decided to study those parameters in a cohort of individuals with severe short stature due to untreated isolated GH deficiency (IGHD) caused by a mutation in the GHRH receptor gene. These IGHD subjects, despite reduction in muscle mass, are very active and have normal longevity.

Methods

In a cross-sectional study, we assessed walking (by a 6-min walk test), postural balance (by force platform) and fall risk (by the 'Timed Up and Go' test) in 31 IGHD and 40 matched health controls.

Results

The percentage of the walked distance measured in relation to the predicted one was similar in groups, but higher in IGHD, when corrected by the leg length. Absolute postural balance data showed similar velocity of unipodal support in the two groups, and better values, with open and closed eyes and unipodal support, in IGHD, but these differences became non-significant when corrected for height and lower-limb length. The time in 'Timed Up and Go' test was higher in IGHD cohort, but still below the cut-off value for fall risk.

Conclusion

IGHD subjects exhibit satisfactory walking and postural balance, without increase in fall risk.

Open access

Ailsa Maria Main, Maria Rossing, Line Borgwardt, Birgitte Grønkær Toft, Åse Krogh Rasmussen, and Ulla Feldt-Rasmussen

Phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs) are tumours of the adrenal medulla and extra-adrenal sympathetic nervous system which often secrete catecholamines. Variants of the SDHX (SDHA, -AF2, -B, -C, -D) genes are a frequent cause of familial PPGLs. In this study from a single tertiary centre, we aimed to characterise the genotype–phenotype associations in patients diagnosed with germline variants in SDHX genes. We also assessed whether systematic screening of family members resulted in earlier detection of tumours. The study cohort comprised all individuals (n = 59) diagnosed with a rare variant in SDHX during a 13-year period. Patient- and pathology records were checked for clinical characteristics and histopathological findings. We found distinct differences in the clinical and histopathological characteristics between genetic variants in SDHB. We identified two SDHB variants with distinct phenotypical patterns. Family screening for SDHB variants resulted in earlier detection of tumours in two families. Patients with SDHA, SDHC and SDHD variants also had malignant phenotypes, underlining the necessity for a broad genetic screening of the proband. Our study corroborates previous findings of poor prognostic markers and found that the genetic variants and clinical phenotype are linked and, therefore, useful in the decision of clinical follow-up. Regular tumour screening of carriers of pathogenic variants may lead to an earlier diagnosis and expected better prognosis. The development of a combined algorithm with clinical, genetic, morphological, and biochemical factors may be the future for improved clinical risk stratification, forming a basis for larger multi-centre follow up studies.

Open access

Joana Simões-Pereira, Daniel Macedo, and Maria João Bugalho

Introduction

Metastases to central nervous system (M1-CNS) are rarely reported in thyroid cancer (TC) patients. We aimed to characterize patients with M1-CNS from TC followed in our department.

Methods

Review of the medical records of 27 patients with TC-related M1-CNS.

Results

Mean age at TC diagnosis was 56.9 ± 19.1 years. Papillary TC (55.6%) was the commonest histological type, followed by poorly differentiated (18.5%), medullary (11.1%), follicular (7.4%) and Hürthle cell (7.4%) carcinomas. Angioinvasion and extrathyroidal extension were observed in a high number of patients. At M1-CNS diagnosis, other distant metastases were already present in 77.8% of the patients. Treatment directed to M1-CNS was offered to 20 (74%) patients: 1 was submitted to surgery, 18 to radiotherapy (either whole-brain radiotherapy or stereotaxic radiosurgery or both) and 4 to surgery and radiotherapy. Four patients received cytotoxic chemotherapy and one was submitted to 131I. Median survival since M1-CNS detection was 5.0 months. The only factor associated with better survival was surgery to brain metastases (P = 0.012).

Conclusions

The management of these patients is very challenging given the inexistence of effective treatments, except for brain surgery in selected cases.

Open access

M L M Barreto-Chaves, N Senger, M R Fevereiro, A C Parletta, and A P C Takano

The cardiac growth process (hypertrophy) is a crucial phenomenon conserved across a wide array of species and is critically involved in the maintenance of cardiac homeostasis. This process enables an organism to adapt to changes in systemic demand and occurs due to a plethora of responses, depending on the type of signal or stimuli received. The growth of cardiac muscle cells in response to environmental conditions depends on the type, strength and duration of stimuli, and results in adaptive physiological responses or non-adaptive pathological responses. Thyroid hormones (TH) have a direct effect on the heart and induce a cardiac hypertrophy phenotype, which may evolve to heart failure. In this review, we summarize the literature on TH function in the heart by presenting results from experimental studies. We discuss the mechanistic aspects of TH associated with cardiac myocyte hypertrophy, increased cardiac myocyte contractility and electrical remodeling, as well as the associated signaling pathways. In addition to classical crosstalk with the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), emerging work pointing to the new endocrine interaction between TH and the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is also explored. Given the inflammatory potential of the angiotensin II peptide, this new interaction may open the door for new therapeutic approaches which target the key mechanisms responsible for TH-induced cardiac hypertrophy.

Open access

Sidsel Mathiesen, Kaspar Sørensen, Marianne Ifversen, Casper P Hagen, Jørgen Holm Petersen, Anders Juul, and Klaus Müller

Objectives

Longitudinal assessment of testicular function after pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is needed to guide clinical follow-up. We investigated dynamics in male reproductive hormones after pediatric HSCT, focusing on pubertal timing and associations with testosterone deficiency and azoospermia in adulthood.

Methods

This retrospective, longitudinal study included 39 survivors median 19 years after pediatric HSCT. Serum concentrations of LH, testosterone, FSH, and inhibin B from the time of HSCT, during puberty, and into adulthood were analyzed. Pubertal timing (rise in LH and testosterone) was compared to a reference cohort of 112 healthy boys. Associations between reproductive hormone levels during puberty and adult testicular function (including semen quality) were investigated.

Results

Pubertal induction with testosterone was needed in 6/26 patients who were prepubertal at HSCT. In the remaining patients, pubertal timing was comparable to the reference cohort. However, 9/33 patients (without pubertal induction) developed testosterone deficiency in early adulthood, which was associated with higher LH levels from age 14 to 16 years. Azoospermia in adulthood was found in 18/26 patients without testosterone substitution. Higher FSH and lower inhibin B levels from mid-pubertal age were associated with azoospermia in adulthood, in patients being prepubertal at HSCT.

Conclusion

Our results indicate a substantial risk of deterioration in testicular function after pediatric HSCT, despite normal pubertal timing. Although reproductive hormone levels from mid-puberty indicated adult testicular function, prolonged follow-up into adulthood is needed in these patients, including clinical examination, reproductive hormone analysis, and semen sample for patients interested in their fertility potential.