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Open access

Fiona Broughton Pipkin, Hiten D Mistry, Chandrima Roy, Bernhard Dick, Jason Waugh, Rebecca Chikhi, Lesia O Kurlak, and Markus G Mohaupt

Pre-eclampsia leads to disturbed fetal organ development, including metabolic syndrome, attributed to altered pituitary-adrenal feedback loop. We measured cortisol metabolites in infants born from pre-eclamptic and normotensive women and hypothesised that glucocorticoid exposure would be exaggerated in the former. Twenty-four hour urine was collected from infants at months 3 and 12. Cortisol metabolites and apparent enzyme activities were analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. From 3 to 12 months, excretion of THS, THF and pregnandiol had risen in both groups; THF also rose in the pre-eclamptic group. No difference was observed with respect to timing of the visit or to hypertensive status for THE or total F metabolites (P>0.05). All apparent enzymes activities, except 17α-hydroxylase, were lower in infants at 12 compared to 3 months in the normotensive group. In the pre-eclamptic group, only 11β-HSD activities were lower at 12 months.17α-hydroxylase and 11β-HSD activities of tetrahydro metabolites were higher in the pre-eclamptic group at 3 months (P<0.05). 11β-hydroxylase activity increased in the pre-eclamptic group at 12 months. Cortisol excretion, determined by increased 11β-hydroxylase, compensates for high 11β-HSD-dependent cortisol degradation at 3 months and at 12 months counterbalances the reduced cortisol substrate availability in infants born from pre-eclamptic mothers.

Open access

Yiyan Wang, Yaoyao Dong, Yinghui Fang, Yao Lv, Qiqi Zhu, Xiaoheng Li, Qingquan Lian, and Ren-Shan Ge

Glucocorticoid hormone might cause intrauterine growth restriction. The glucocorticoid-metabolizing enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 2 (HSD11B2) in the placenta eliminates excess levels of glucocorticoids during pregnancy. The aim of the current study was to define the effects of diethylstilbestrol (DES) on HSD11B2 activity in the mammalian placentas and identify its mode of action. Rat and human placental microsomal HSD11B2 were incubated with different concentrations of DES, and IC50 values were determined. The mode of action was analyzed by incubation of DES together with substrates, glucocorticoid and NAD+. DES suppressed rat and human HSD11B2 with IC50 values of 5.33 and 12.62 μM, respectively. DES was a competitive inhibitor of rat and human HSD11B2 when steroid substrates were added, while it was an uncompetitive inhibitor when cofactor NAD+ was exposed. Oral administration of DES (0.5 mg/kg) to the rat delayed the cortisol metabolism in adult female Sprague–Dawley rats, as indicated by the increases in cortisol’s elimination half-life, maximum concentration and area under the curve. In conclusion, DES is a potent HSD11B2 inhibitor, possibly contributing to the intrauterine growth restriction.

Open access

Paal Methlie, Steinar Hustad, Ralf Kellman, Bjørg Almås, Martina M Erichsen, Eystein S Husebye, and Kristian Løvås

Objective

Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) offers superior analytical specificity compared with immunoassays, but it is not available in many regions and hospitals due to expensive instrumentation and tedious sample preparation. Thus, we developed an automated, high-throughput LC–MS/MS assay for simultaneous quantification of ten endogenous and synthetic steroids targeting diseases of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and gonads.

Methods

Deuterated internal standards were added to 85 μl serum and processed by liquid–liquid extraction. Cortisol, cortisone, prednisolone, prednisone, 11-deoxycortisol, dexamethasone, testosterone, androstenedione and progesterone were resolved by ultra-high-pressure chromatography on a reversed-phase column in 6.1 min and detected by triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry. The method was used to assess steroid profiles in women with Addison's disease (AD, n=156) and blood donors (BDs, n=102).

Results

Precisions ranged from 4.5 to 10.1% relative standard deviations (RSD), accuracies from 95 to 108% and extraction recoveries from 60 to 84%. The method was practically free of matrix effects and robust to individual differences in serum composition. Most postmenopausal AD women had extremely low androstenedione concentrations, below 0.14 nmol/l, and median testosterone concentrations of 0.15 nmol/l (interquartile range 0.00–0.41), considerably lower than those of postmenopausal BDs (1.28 nmol/l (0.96–1.64) and 0.65 nmol/l (0.56–1.10) respectively). AD women in fertile years had androstenedione concentrations of 1.18 nmol/l (0.71–1.76) and testosterone concentrations of 0.44 nmol/l (0.22–0.63), approximately half of those found in BDs of corresponding age.

Conclusion

This LC–MS/MS assay provides highly sensitive and specific assessments of glucocorticoids and androgens with low sample volumes and is suitable for endocrine laboratories and research. Its utility has been demonstrated in a large cohort of women with AD, and the data suggest that women with AD are particularly androgen deficient after menopause.

Open access

Grethe Å Ueland, Thea Grinde, Paal Methlie, Oskar Kelp, Kristian Løvås, and Eystein S Husebye

Objective:

Autonomous cortisol secretion (ACS) is a condition with ACTH-independent cortisol overproduction from adrenal incidentalomas (AI) or adrenal hyperplasia. The hypercortisolism is often mild, and most patients lack typical clinical features of overt Cushing’s syndrome (CS). ACS is not well defined and diagnostic tests lack validation.

Methods:

Retrospective study of 165 patients with AI evaluated clinically and by assay of morning plasma ACTH, late-night saliva cortisol, serum DHEA sulphate (DHEAS), 24-h urine-free cortisol, and cortisol after dexamethasone suppression.

Results:

Patients with AI (n = 165) were diagnosed as non-functioning incidentalomas (NFI) (n = 82) or ACS (n = 83) according to current European guidelines. Late-night saliva cortisol discriminated poorly between NFI and ACS, showing a high rate of false-positive (23/63) and false-negative (38/69) results. The conventional low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (LDDST) did not improve the diagnostic specificity, compared with the 1 mg overnight DST. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis of DHEAS in the two cohorts demonstrated an area under the curve of 0.76 (P < 0.01) with a sensitivity for ACS of 58% and a specificity of 80% using the recommended cutoff at 1.04 µmol/L (40 µg/dL).

Conclusion:

We here demonstrate in a large retrospective cohort of incidentaloma patients, that neither DHEAS, late-night saliva cortisol nor 24-h urine free cortisol are useful to discriminate between non-functioning adrenal incidentalomas and ACS. The conventional LDDST do not add further information compared with the 1 mg overnight DST. Alternative biomarkers are needed to improve the diagnostic workup of ACS.

Open access

Jingya Zhou, Meng Zhang, Lin Lu, Xiaopeng Guo, Lu Gao, Weigang Yan, Haiyu Pang, Yi Wang, and Bing Xing

Objective

To investigate the validity of discharge ICD-10 codes in detecting the etiology of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in hospitalized patients.

Methods

We evaluated the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of CS etiology-related ICD-10 codes or code combinations by comparing hospital discharge administrative data (DAD) with established diagnoses from medical records.

Results

Coding for patients with adrenocortical adenoma (ACA) and those with bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia (BMAH) demonstrated disappointingly low sensitivity at 78.8% (95% CI: 70.1–85.6%) and 83.9% (95% CI: 65.5–93.9%), respectively. BMAH had the lowest PPV of 74.3% (95% CI: 56.4–86.9%). In confirmed ACA patients, the sensitivity for ACA code combinations was higher in patients initially admitted to the Department of Endocrinology before surgery than that in patients directly admitted to the Department of Urology (90.0 vs 73.1%, P = 0.033). The same phenomenon was observed in the PPV for the BMAH code (100.0 vs 60.9%, P = 0.012). Misinterpreted or confusing situations caused by coders (68.1%) and by the omission or denormalized documentation of symptomatic diagnosis by clinicians (26.1%) accounted for the main source of coding errors.

Conclusions

Hospital DAD is an effective data source for evaluating the etiology of CS but not ACA and BMAH. Improving surgeons’ documentation, especially in the delineation of symptomatic and locative diagnoses in discharge abstracts; department- or disease-specific training for coders and more multidisciplinary collaboration are ways to enhance the applicability of administrative data for CS etiologies.

Open access

A Daniel Bird, Spencer Greatorex, David Reser, Gareth G Lavery, and Timothy J Cole

Steroid hormones play clinically important and specific regulatory roles in the development, growth, metabolism, reproduction and brain function in human. The type 1 and 2 11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzymes (11β-HSD1 and 2) have key roles in the pre-receptor modification of glucocorticoids allowing aldosterone regulation of blood pressure, control of systemic fluid and electrolyte homeostasis and modulation of integrated metabolism and brain function. Although the activity and function of 11β-HSDs is thought to be understood, there exists an open reading frame for a distinct 11βHSD-like gene; HSD11B1L, which is present in human, non-human primate, sheep, pig and many other higher organisms, whereas an orthologue is absent in the genomes of mouse, rat and rabbit. We have now characterised this novel HSD11B1L gene as encoded by 9 exons and analysis of EST library transcripts indicated the use of two alternate ATG start sites in exons 2 and 3, and alternate splicing in exon 9. Relatively strong HSD11B1L gene expression was detected in human, non-human primate and sheep tissue samples from the brain, ovary and testis. Analysis in non-human primates and sheep by immunohistochemistry localised HSD11B1L protein to the cytoplasm of ovarian granulosa cells, testis Leydig cells, and gonadatroph cells in the anterior pituitary. Intracellular localisation analysis in transfected human HEK293 cells showed HSD1L protein within the endoplasmic reticulum and sequence analysis suggests that similar to 11βHSD1 it is membrane bound. The endogenous substrate of this third HSD enzyme remains elusive with localisation and expression data suggesting a reproductive hormone as a likely substrate.

Open access

Kamran Iqbal, Kate Halsby, Robert D Murray, Paul V Carroll, and Robert Petermann

Background and objectives

Glucocorticoids are used to manage adrenal insufficiency (AI). We describe treatments used in the United Kingdom and real-world clinical outcomes for each treatment.

Methods

We used 2010–2016 primary care data from The Health Improvement Network (THIN). Descriptive analyses were conducted, and differences in variables between patients prescribed immediate-release hydrocortisone (IR HC), prednisolone or modified-release hydrocortisone (MR HC) were assessed using Fisher’s exact test.

Results

Overall, 2648 patients were included: 1912 on IR HC (72%), 691 on prednisolone (26%) and 45 (2%) on MR HC. A total of 1174 (44.3%) had primary and 1150 (43.4%) had secondary AI. Patients on prednisolone were older (P < 0.001) and had a greater history of smoking (292/691, P < 0.001) and CVD (275/691, P < 0.001). Patients on MR HC had more PCOS (3/45, P = 0.001) and diabetes (27/45, P = 0.004). The number of GP visits/patient/year was 6.50 in IR HC, 9.54 in prednisolone and 9.11 in MR HC cohorts. The mean number of A&E visits and inpatient and outpatient hospital admissions ranged from 0.42 to 0.93 visits/patient/year. The mean number of adrenal crises/patient/year was between 0.02 and 0.03 for all cohorts.

Conclusion

IR HC is most commonly used for the management of AI in the United Kingdom, followed by prednisolone. Few patients receive MR HC. The prednisolone and MR HC cohorts displayed a greater prevalence of vascular risk factors compared with IR HC. The occurrence of AC and primary and secondary resource use were similar between treatment cohorts, and they indicate significant resource utilisation. Improved treatment and management of patients with AI is needed.

Open access

V Guarnotta, C Di Stefano, A Santoro, A Ciresi, A Coppola, and C Giordano

Background

Dual-release hydrocortisone (DR-HC) improves metabolism in patients with adrenal insufficiency. The aims of this study were to compare the cardiovascular and metabolic effects of conventional glucocorticoids (GCs) vs. DR-HC and of high vs. low doses of GCs, after 48 months of observation.

Methods

We selected 27 patients on hydrocortisone (mean dose 17.5 ± 4.2 mg/day) and 20 patients on cortisone acetate (mean dose 37.5 ± 12.1 mg/day) who maintained this treatment (group A) and 53 patients switched to DR-HC (mean dose 22 ± 4.8 mg/day) (group B). At baseline and after 48 months, clinical and metabolic parameters and Framingham Risk Score (FRS) were obtained.

Results

After 48 months, patients in group A had a significant increase from baseline in BMI (P < 0.001), waist circumference (P = 0.001), systolic blood pressure (P = 0.001), LDL cholesterol (P = 0.018), HbA1c (P = 0.020) and FRS (P = 0.002). By contrast, patients in group B had a significant decrease in BMI (P = 0.002), waist circumference (P = 0.015), diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.031), total (P = 0.006) and LDL cholesterol (P = 0.005), HbA1c (P < 0.001) and FRS (P = 0.015) compared to baseline. No significant differences between high and low doses of both conventional GCs and DR-HC were observed.

Conclusions

DR-HC is associated with an improvement of metabolic parameters and cardiovascular risk compared to conventional GCs, which are associated with a worsening of these parameters, regardless of the dose used.

Open access

Helga Schultz, Svend Aage Engelholm, Eva Harder, Ulrik Pedersen-Bjergaard, and Peter Lommer Kristensen

Background

The risk of developing diabetes mellitus (DM) during treatment with high-dose glucocorticoids is unknown and monitoring of glucose is random in many settings.

Objective

To determine incidence of and risk factors for induction of DM during high-dose glucocorticoid therapy of metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) in patients referred to radiotherapy. Furthermore, to describe the time course of development of DM.

Subjects and methods

140 patients were recruited (131 were included in the analysis) with MSCC receiving high-dose glucocorticoid ≥100 mg prednisolone per day were included in a prospective, observational cohort study. The primary endpoint was development of DM defined by two or more plasma glucose values ≥11.1 mmol/L. Plasma glucose was monitored on a daily basis for 12 days during radiotherapy.

Results

Fifty-six of the patients (43%; 95% CI 35–52%) were diagnosed with DM based on plasma glucose measurements during the study period. Sixteen patients, 12% (95% CI 6–18%), were treated with insulin. At multivariate analysis, only high baseline HbA1c predicted the development of insulin-treated DM. An HbA1c-value <39 mmol/mol was associated with a negative predictive value of 96% for not developing DM needing treatment with insulin. The diagnosis of diabetes with need for insulin treatment was made within 7 days in 14 of the 16 (88%; 95% CI 72–100%) patients.

Conclusion

The risk of developing DM during treatment with high-dose glucocorticoids in patients with MSCC referred to radiotherapy is high in the first treatment week. Only referral HbA1c predicts the development of DM.

Open access

Siphiwe N Dlamini, Zané Lombard, Lisa K Micklesfield, Nigel Crowther, Shane A Norris, Tracy Snyman, Andrew A Crawford, Brian R Walker, and Julia H Goedecke

Circulating glucocorticoids are associated with metabolic syndrome and related cardiometabolic risk factors in non-Africans. This study investigated these associations in Africans, whose metabolic phenotype reportedly differs from Europeans. Adiposity, blood pressure, glycaemia, insulin resistance, and lipid profile, were measured in 316 African men and 788 African women living in Soweto, Johannesburg. The 2009 harmonized criteria were used to define metabolic syndrome. Serum glucocorticoids were measured using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Cortisol was associated with greater odds presenting with metabolic syndrome (odds ratio (95% CI) =1.50 (1.04, 2.17) and higher systolic (beta coefficient, β (95% CI) =0.04 (0.01, 0.08)) and diastolic (0.05 (0.02, 0.09)) blood pressure, but higher HDL (0.10 (0.02, 0.19)) and lower LDL (−0.14 (−0.24, −0.03)) cholesterol concentrations, in the combined sample of men and women. In contrast, corticosterone was only associated with higher insulin sensitivity (Matsuda index; 0.22 (0.03, 0.41)), but this was not independent of BMI. Sex-specific associations were observed, such that both cortisol and corticosterone were associated with higher fasting glucose (standardized β (95% CI): 0.24 (0.12, 0.36) for cortisol and 0.12 (0.01, 0.23) for corticosterone) and HbA1c (0.13 (0.01, 0.25) for cortisol and 0.12 (0.01, 0.24) for corticosterone) in men only, but lower HbA1c (0.10 (−0.20, −0.01) for cortisol and −0.09 (−0.18, −0.03) for corticosterone) in women only. Our study reports for the first time that associations between circulating glucocorticoid concentrations and key cardiometabolic risk factors exhibit both glucocorticoid- and sex-specificity in Africans.