Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is a key player of basal and stress-activated responses in the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA) and in extrahypothalamic circuits, where it functions as a neuromodulator to orchestrate humoral and behavioral adaptive responses to stress. This review describes molecular components and cellular mechanisms involved in CRH signaling downstream of its G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) CRHR1 and CRHR2 and summarizes recent findings that challenge the classical view of GPCR signaling and impact on our understanding of CRHRs function. Special emphasis is placed on recent studies of CRH signaling that revealed new mechanistic aspects of cAMP generation and ERK1/2 activation in physiologically relevant contexts of the neurohormone action. In addition, we present an overview of the pathophysiological role of the CRH system, which highlights the need for a precise definition of CRHRs signaling at molecular level to identify novel targets for pharmacological intervention in neuroendocrine tissues and specific brain areas involved in CRH-related disorders.
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Carolina Inda, Natalia G Armando, Paula A dos Santos Claro, and Susana Silberstein
M S Elston, V B Crawford, M Swarbrick, M S Dray, M Head, and J V Conaglen
Cushing’s syndrome (CS) due to ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) is associated with a variety of tumours most of which arise in the thorax or abdomen. Prostate carcinoma is a rare but important cause of rapidly progressive CS. To report a case of severe CS due to ACTH production from prostate neuroendocrine carcinoma and summarise previous published cases. A 71-year-old male presented with profound hypokalaemia, oedema and new onset hypertension. The patient reported two weeks of weight gain, muscle weakness, labile mood and insomnia. CS due to ectopic ACTH production was confirmed with failure to suppress cortisol levels following low- and high-dose dexamethasone suppression tests in the presence of a markedly elevated ACTH and a normal pituitary MRI. Computed tomography demonstrated an enlarged prostate with features of malignancy, confirmed by MRI. Subsequent prostatic biopsy confirmed neuroendocrine carcinoma of small cell type and conventional adenocarcinoma of the prostate. Adrenal steroidogenesis blockade was commenced using ketoconazole and metyrapone. Complete biochemical control of CS and evidence of disease regression on imaging occurred after four cycles of chemotherapy with carboplatin and etoposide. By the sixth cycle, the patient demonstrated radiological progression followed by recurrence of CS and died nine months after initial presentation. Prostate neuroendocrine carcinoma is a rare cause of CS that can be rapidly fatal, and early aggressive treatment of the CS is important. In CS where the cause of EAS is unable to be identified, a pelvic source should be considered and imaging of the pelvis carefully reviewed.
Isabelle Flechtner, Magali Viaud, Dulanjalee Kariyawasam, Marie Perrissin-Fabert, Maud Bidet, Anne Bachelot, Philippe Touraine, Philippe Labrune, Pascale de Lonlay, and Michel Polak
Classic galactosemia is a rare inborn error of galactose metabolism with a birth prevalence of about 1/30,000–60,000. Long-term complications occurring despite dietary treatment consist of premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) and neurodevelopmental impairments. We performed with the French Reference Centers for Rare Diseases a multisite collaborative questionnaire survey for classic galactosemic patients. Its primary objective was to assess their puberty, pregnancy, gonadotropic axis, and pelvic morphology by ultrasound. The secondary objective was to determine predictive factors for pregnancy without oocyte donation. Completed questionnaires from 103 patients, 56 females (median age, 19 years (3–52 years)) and 47 males (median age, 19 years (3–45 years)), were analyzed. Among the 43 females older than 13 years old, mean age for breast development first stage was 13.8 years; spontaneous menarche occurred in 21/31 females at a mean age of 14.6 years. In these 21 women, 62% had spaniomenorrhea and 7/17 older than 30 years had amenorrhea. All age-groups confounded, FSH was above reference range for 65.7% of the patients, anti-Müllerian hormone and inhibin B were undetectable, and the ovaries were small with few or no follicles detected. Among the 5 females who sought to conceive, 4 had pregnancies. Among the 47 males, 1 had cryptorchidism, all have normal testicular function and none had a desire to conceive children. Thus, spontaneous puberty and POI are both common in this population. Spontaneous menarche seems to be the best predictive factor for successful spontaneous pregnancy.
Angela Köninger, Philippos Edimiris, Laura Koch, Antje Enekwe, Claudia Lamina, Sabine Kasimir-Bauer, Rainer Kimmig, and Hans Dieplinger
Oxidative stress seems to be present in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between characteristics of PCOS and serum concentrations of afamin, a novel binding protein for the antioxidant vitamin E. A total of 85 patients with PCOS and 76 control subjects were investigated in a pilot cross-sectional study design between 2009 and 2013 in the University Hospital of Essen, Germany. Patients with PCOS were diagnosed according to the Rotterdam ESHRE/ASRM-sponsored PCOS Consensus Workshop Group. Afamin and diagnostic parameters of PCOS were determined at early follicular phase. Afamin concentrations were significantly higher in patients with PCOS than in controls (odds ratio (OR) for a 10 mg/ml increase in afamin=1.3, 95% CI=1.08–1.58). This difference vanished in a model adjusting for age, BMI, free testosterone index (FTI), and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) (OR=1.05, 95% CI=0.80–1.38). In patients with PCOS, afamin correlated significantly with homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), fasting glucose, BMI, FTI, and SHBG (P<0.001), but in a multivariate linear model, only HOMA-IR remained significantly associated with afamin (P=0.001). No correlation was observed between afamin and androgens, LH, FSH, LH/FSH ratio, antral follicle count, ovarian volume, or anti-Müllerian hormone. In conclusion, elevated afamin values may indicate a state of oxidative stress and inflammation, strongly associated with IR and offering an indicator of impaired glucose tolerance in patients with PCOS irrespective of obesity.
Nandini Shankara Narayana, Lam P Ly, Veena Jayadev, Carolyn Fennell, Sasha Savkovic, Ann J Conway, and David J Handelsman
To define the optimized inter-injection interval of injectable testosterone undecanoate (TU) treatment for hypogonadal and transmen based on individual dose titration in routine clinical practice.
Design and methods
A prolective observational study of consecutive TU injections in men undergoing testosterone replacement therapy for pathological hypogonadism or masculinization of female-to-male transgender (transmen) subject to individual dosing titration to achieve a stable replacement regimen.
From 2006 to 2019, 6899 injections were given to 325 consecutive patients. After excluding the 6-week loading dose, 6300 injections were given to 297 patients who had at least three and a median of 14 injections. The optimal injection interval (mean of last three injection intervals) had a median of 12.0 weeks (interquartile range 10.4–12.7 weeks). The interval was significantly influenced by age and body size (body surface area, BSA) but not by diagnosis or trough serum LH, FSH, and SHBG. Longer (≥14 weeks; 68/297, 23%), but not shorter (≤10 weeks; 22/297, 7.4%), intervals were weakly correlated with age but not diagnosis or other covariables. Low blood hemoglobin increased with trough serum testosterone to reach plateau once testosterone was about 10 nmol/L or higher.
Optimal intervals between TU injection after individual titration resulted in the approved 12-week interval in 70% of patients with only minor influence for clinical application of BSA and not of trough serum LH, FSH, and SHBG. Individually optimized inter-injection interval did not differ between men with primary or secondary hypogonadism or transmen.
Ladan Younesi, Zeinab Safarpour Lima, Azadeh Akbari Sene, Zahra Hosseini Jebelli, and Ghazaleh Amjad
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders. The aim of this study was to find the correlation between color Doppler ultrasound and serum tests as auxiliary diagnostic criteria in areas where there is no possibility of some tests. A total of 108 patients were enrolled. They were divided into three groups including patients with PCOS, patients with PCOA ultrasound, patients with ovaries and normal hormone tests. Transvaginal sonography was performed from three groups and the results were evaluated in gray scale. The volume of the ovary, the number of follicles and the placement of follicles were recorded using using Doppler spectrum of uterine artery and ovarian stroma. Their arterial resistance index was also calculated. In the next step, serum samples were evaluated to determine the level of LH, FSH, free testosterone, DHEAS and 17-OHP hormones in the early follicular phase. Gray scale ultrasonographic findings (volume and number of ovarian follicles) as well as LH values were higher in patients with PCOS than those in the other two groups. These results proved the reliability of using these factors in the prediction of PCOS. In this study, Doppler indexes did not correlate with the size of the ovaries, the number of ovarian follicles and the measured hormone levels. The findings of transvaginal ultrasound and investigating the relationship with clinical and laboratory outcomes, a more suitable pattern could be chosen for more accurate patient selection and, leading to timely treatment and reducing the complications of the disease.
Masatada Watanabe, Shuji Ohno, and Hiroshi Wachi
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.
Katarzyna Wyskida, Grzegorz Franik, Tomasz Wikarek, Aleksander Owczarek, Alham Delroba, Jerzy Chudek, Jerzy Sikora, and Magdalena Olszanecka-Glinianowicz
The aim of this study was to assess the plasma leptin, adiponectin, resistin, visfatin/NAMPT, omentin-1, vaspin, apelin, TNF-α, IL-6 and RBP4 levels in relation to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle in young, healthy, normal-weight women.
The study involved 52 young, healthy, normal-weight women. Anthropometric parameters, body composition and levels of plasma leptin, adiponectin, resistin, visfatin/NAMPT, omentin-1, vaspin, apelin, TNF-α, IL-6 and RBP4 in addition to serum FSH, LH, estradiol, progesterone, 17-OH progesterone, androgens, SHBG and insulin concentrations were measured during a morning in fasting state three times: between days 2–4, days 12–14 and days 24–26 of the menstrual cycle.
Plasma adiponectin, omentin-1, resistin and visfatin/NAMPT, apelin, TNF-α, IL-6 and RBP4 concentrations were stable during the menstrual cycle, while leptin and vaspin levels were significantly higher in both the midcycle and the luteal phases than those in the follicular phase. Multivariate regression analyses revealed that changes in leptin and vaspin levels between the follicular and the luteal phase are strongly related to changes in total testosterone levels.
Our results revealed stable levels of adipokines during the phases of the physiological menstrual cycle, except for leptin and vaspin, which showed increased levels in both the midcycle and the luteal phases. This effect was significantly associated with changes in the secretion of testosterone, 17-OH progesterone and insulin in the luteal phase.
Lisa Arnetz, Neda Rajamand Ekberg, Kerstin Brismar, and Michael Alvarsson
Dysfunction of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis has been implicated in type 2 diabetes (T2D). The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of T2D and gender on the HPA axis.
Synthetic ACTH (1 μg) was administered to 21 subjects with T2D (age 62 (54–70) years, 11 men/ten women, HbA1c 49±2 mmol/mol, treated with diet or oral antidiabetic drugs) and 38 controls (age 58 (41–67) years, 20 men/18 women). Fasting basal B-glucose, serum cortisol, insulin, IGF1 and IGFBP1 concentrations were measured, and sampling for all but IGF1 was repeated 30, 60, and 90 min after ACTH injection. Patients took 0.25 mg dexamethasone at 2200–2300 h and returned the next morning for the measurement of serum cortisol concentration.
Patients with T2D had similar fasting serum cortisol, IGF1 and IGFBP1 concentrations; however, serum cortisol concentration after administration of dexamethasone did not differ between the groups. Healthy women exhibited higher peak cortisol levels compared with healthy men (675±26 vs 582±21 nmol/l, P=0.014), while the peak levels were equally high in men and women with T2D, resulting in a higher peak level in men with T2D compared with healthy men (691±42 vs 582±21 nmol/l, P=0.024). Serum cortisol concentration after administration of dexamethasone did not differ between the groups, nor did IGF1 and IGFBP1.
Novelty of the findings
Some studies have previously indicated disturbed regulation of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis in subjects with type 2 diabetes (T2D); however, much remains unknown in this area. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to show that the gender difference in the adrenal response to ACTH (with greater reactivity in women) is abolished in T2D. While the clinical implications cannot be determined by this paper, it is known that gender differences exist in the pathogenesis and complications of T2D. Thus, our findings suggest that further research into gender differences in the HPA axis is warranted.
Gender differences in adrenal response to ACTH were abolished in T2D. Men with T2D had a higher peak cortisol compared with controls. Further studies are needed to elucidate the clinical implications.
M Boering, P R van Dijk, S J J Logtenberg, K H Groenier, B H R Wolffenbuttel, R O B Gans, N Kleefstra, and H J G Bilo
Elevated sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) concentrations have been described in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), probably due to low portal insulin concentrations. We aimed to investigate whether the route of insulin administration, continuous intraperitoneal insulin infusion (CIPII), or subcutaneous (SC), influences SHBG concentrations among T1DM patients.
Post hoc analysis of SHBG in samples derived from a randomized, open-labeled crossover trial was carried out in 20 T1DM patients: 50% males, mean age 43 (±13) years, diabetes duration 23 (±11) years, and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) 8.7 (±1.1) (72 (±12) mmol/mol). As secondary outcomes, testosterone, 17-β-estradiol, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) were analyzed.
Estimated mean change in SHBG was −10.3nmol/L (95% CI: −17.4, −3.2) during CIPII and 3.7nmol/L (95% CI: −12.0, 4.6) during SC insulin treatment. Taking the effect of treatment order into account, the difference in SHBG between therapies was −6.6nmol/L (95% CI: −17.5, 4.3); −12.7nmol/L (95% CI: −25.1, −0.4) for males and −1.7nmol/L (95% CI: −24.6, 21.1) for females, respectively. Among males, SHBG and testosterone concentrations changed significantly during CIPII; −15.8nmol/L (95% CI: −24.2, −7.5) and −8.3nmol/L (95% CI: −14.4, −2.2), respectively. The difference between CIPII and SC insulin treatment was also significant for change in FSH 1.2U/L (95% CI: 0.1, 2.2) among males.
SHBG concentrations decreased significantly during CIPII treatment. Moreover, the difference in change between CIPII and SC insulin therapy was significant for SHBG and FSH among males. These findings support the hypothesis that portal insulin administration influences circulating SHBG and sex steroids.