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.
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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
Helga Schultz, Svend Aage Engelholm, Eva Harder, Ulrik Pedersen-Bjergaard, and Peter Lommer Kristensen
The risk of developing diabetes mellitus (DM) during treatment with high-dose glucocorticoids is unknown and monitoring of glucose is random in many settings.
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.
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.
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.
Sarah Zaheer, Kayla Meyer, Rebecca Easly, Omar Bayomy, Janet Leung, Andrew W Koefoed, Mahyar Heydarpour, Roy Freeman, and Gail K Adler
Glucocorticoid use is the most common cause of secondary osteoporosis. Poor skeletal health related to glucocorticoid use is thought to involve inhibition of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, a key pathway in osteoblastogenesis. Sclerostin, a peptide produced primarily by osteocytes, is an antagonist of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, raising the possibility that sclerostin is involved in glucocorticoids’ adverse effects on bone. The aim of this study was to determine whether an acute infusion of cosyntropin (i.e. ACTH(1–24)), which increases endogenous cortisol, increases serum sclerostin levels as compared to a placebo infusion. This study was performed using blood samples obtained from a previously published, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, cross-over study among healthy men and women who received infusions of placebo or cosyntropin after being supine and fasted overnight (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02339506). A total of 17 participants were analyzed. There was a strong correlation (R2 = 0.65, P < 0.0001) between the two baseline sclerostin measurements measured at the start of each visit, and men had a significantly higher average baseline sclerostin compared to women. As anticipated, cosyntropin significantly increased serum cortisol levels, whereas cortisol levels fell during placebo infusion, consistent with the diurnal variation in cortisol. There was no significant effect of cosyntropin as compared to placebo infusions on serum sclerostin over 6–24 h (P = 0.10). In conclusion, this randomized, placebo-controlled study was unable to detect a significant effect of a cosyntropin infusion on serum sclerostin levels in healthy men and women.
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.
Alberto Giacinto Ambrogio, Massimiliano Andrioli, Martina De Martin, Francesco Cavagnini, and Francesca Pecori Giraldi
Recurrence of Cushing’s disease after successful transsphenoidal surgery occurs in some 30% of the patients and the response to desmopressin shortly after surgery has been proposed as a marker for disease recurrence. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the response to desmopressin over time after surgery. We tested 56 patients with Cushing’s disease in remission after transsphenoidal surgery with desmopressin for up to 20 years after surgery. The ACTH and cortisol response to desmopressin over time was evaluated in patients on long-term remission or undergoing relapse; an increase by at least 27 pg/mL in ACTH levels identified responders. The vast majority of patients who underwent successful adenomectomy failed to respond to desmopressin after surgery and this response pattern was maintained over time in patients on long-term remission. Conversely, a response to desmopressin reappeared in patients who subsequently developed a recurrence of Cushing’s disease, even years prior to frank hypercortisolism. It appears therefore that a change in the response pattern to desmopressin proves predictive of recurrence of Cushing’s disease and may indicate which patients require close monitoring.
Gamze Akkuş, Isa Burak Güney, Fesih Ok, Mehtap Evran, Volkan Izol, Şeyda Erdoğan, Yıldırım Bayazıt, Murat Sert, and Tamer Tetiker
The management of adrenal incidentaloma is still a challenge with respect to determining its functionality (hormone secretion) and malignancy. In this light, we performed 18F-FDG PET/CT scan to assess the SUVmax values in different adrenal masses including Cushing syndrome, pheochromocytoma, primary hyperaldosteronism and non-functional adrenal adenomas.
Total 109 (73 F, 36 M) patients with adrenal mass (incidentaloma), mean age of 53.3 ± 10.2 years (range, 24–70) were screened by 18F-FDG PET/CT. Data of 18F-FDG PET/CT imaging of the patients were assessed by the same specialist. Adrenal masses were identified according to the calculated standardized uptake values (SUVs). Clinical examination, 24-h urine cortisol, catecholamine metabolites, 1-mg dexamethasone suppression test, aldosterone/renin ratio and serum electrolytes were analyzed.
Based on the clinical and hormonal evaluations, there were 100 patients with non-functional adrenal mass, four with cortisol-secreting, four with pheochromocytomas and one with aldosterone-secreting adenoma. Mean adrenal mass diameter of 109 patients was 2.1 ± 4.3 (range, 1–6.5 cm). The 18F-FDG PET/CT imaging of the patients revealed that lower SUVmax values were found in non-functional adrenal masses (SUVmax 3.2) when compared to the functional adrenal masses including four with cortisol-secreting adenoma (SUVmax 10.1); four with pheochromcytoma (SUVmax 8.7) and one with aldosterone-secreting adenomas (SUVmax 3.30). Cortisol-secreting (Cushing syndrome) adrenal masses showed the highest SUVmax value (10.1), and a cut-off SUVmax of 4.135 was found with an 84.6% sensitivity and 75.6% specificity cortisol-secreting adrenal adenoma.
Consistent with the similar studies, non-functional adrenal adenomas typically do not show increased FDG uptake and a certain form of functional adenoma could present various FDG uptake in FDG PET/CT. Especially functional adrenal adenomas (cortisol secreting was the highest) showed increased FDG uptake in comparison to the non-functional adrenal masses. Therefore, setting a specific SUVmax value in the differentiation of malignant adrenal lesion from the benign one is risky and further studies, including a high number of functional adrenal mass are needed.
Masafumi Tetsuka and Misato Tanakadate
The bovine cumulus-oocyte complex (COC) is capable of converting cortisone, an inert glucocorticoid to active cortisol. This mechanism is mediated by 11β-hydroxysteroid oxidoreductase type 1 (HSD11B1), whose expression dramatically increases in the mature COC. In this study, we investigate the time course expression of HSD11B1 and the enzyme activity in the bovine COC undergoing maturation and fertilization in relation to key events taking place in the COC. Bovine COCs were subjected to in vitro maturation (IVM) and fertilization (IVF). The activities of HSD11B1 and HSD11B2, which mediates the opposite reaction, were measured using a radiometric conversion assay. In parallel studies, cumulus expansion, P4 production and the expression of genes associated with ovulation were measured. The reductive activity of HSD11B1 increased in the latter half of IVM and remained high during IVF, whereas the oxidative activity of HSD11B2 remained unchanged over both periods. Consequently, the net glucocorticoid metabolism in the bovine COC shifted from inactivation to activation around the time of ovulation and fertilization. The increase in HSD11B1 expression lagged behind that of P4 increase and cumulus expansion but ahead of the expressions of genes responsible for PGE2 synthesis. The reductive activity of HSD11B1 was well correlated with the cumulus expansion rate. This outcome indicates that the ability of the cumulus to activate glucocorticoids is related to its ability to synthesize hyaluronan. These results also indicate that the activation of HSD11B1 is an integral part of the sequential events taking place at the ovulation and fertilization in the bovine COC.
Emmanuelle Motte, Anya Rothenbuhler, Stephan Gaillard, Najiba Lahlou, Cécile Teinturier, Régis Coutant, and Agnès Linglart
To investigate whether low-dose mitotane (up to 2 g/day) could be a temporary therapeutic alternative to transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) in pediatric Cushing’s disease (CD). Twenty-eight patients with CD aged 12.2 years (± 2.2) were referred to our center. We compared nine patients treated with mitotane alone for at least 6 months to 13 patients cured after surgery. Primary outcomes were changes in growth velocity, BMI and pubertal development. The following results were obtained: (1) Mitotane improved growth velocity z-scores (−3.8 (±0.3) vs −0.2 (±0.6)), BMI z-scores (2.1 (±0.5) vs 1.2 (±0.5) s.d.) and pubertal development. After 1 year on mitotane, the mean BMI z-score was not significantly different in both groups of patients. (2) Control of cortisol secretion was delayed and inconsistent with mitotane used as monotherapy. (3) Side effects were similar to those previously reported, reversible and dose dependent: unspecific digestive symptoms, concentration or memory problems, physical exhaustion, adrenal insufficiency and hepatitis. (4) In one patient, progressive growth of a pituitary adenoma was observed over 40 months of mitotane treatment, allowing selective adenomectomy by TSS. In conclusions, low-dose mitotane can restore growth velocity and pubertal development and decrease BMI in children with CD, even without optimal control of cortisol secretion. It may promote pituitary tumor growth thus facilitating second-line TSS. However, given its possibly life-threatening side effects (transient adrenal insufficiency and hepatitis), and in the absence of any reliable follow-up procedures, this therapy may be difficult to manage and should always be initiated and monitored by specialized teams.
Soraya Puglisi, Paola Perotti, Mattia Barbot, Paolo Cosio, Carla Scaroni, Antonio Stigliano, Pina Lardo, Valentina Morelli, Elisa Polledri, Iacopo Chiodini, Giuseppe Reimondo, Anna Pia, and Massimo Terzolo
Metyrapone has been approved for the treatment of patients with Cushing’s syndrome (CS), but only few retrospective clinical studies are available. The aim of our study was the prospective assessment of metyrapone as pre-operative treatment.
Design and methods
Before adrenalectomy, seven patients with ACTH-independent CS due to adrenal adenoma were prospectively treated with metyrapone for 3 months in three tertiary academic centers, with endocrine work-up and clinical evaluation at screening and at predefined evaluation time points (Days 14, 31, 48, 65, 82).
In all patients, UFC levels decreased up to normal range from baseline to Day 82 (609 (188–1476) vs 69 (28–152) nmol/24 h, P < 0.02), with a reduction of serum and salivary cortisol levels, and no significant increase of plasma ACTH and serum DHEAS levels. Clinical improvement was reported on quality of life (+16.7 (+4.2; +52.00) points, P < 0.04) and pressure control (systolic pressure, −25 (−52; −10) mmHg, P < 0.01; diastolic pressure, −16 (−50; +2 mmHg), P < 0.03). No significant change in weight, electrolytes, glycemic and lipid profile was reported. Although in women a significant increase of testosterone and androstenedione was reported, no worsening of clinical hyperandrogenism was observed. All drug-related adverse events (nausea, fatigue, low grade fever, edema of lower limbs and facial rash) were grade 1 or 2 and generally transient.
This prospective pilot study demonstrated that metyrapone is effective in normalizing biochemical and clinical parameters in patients with CS due to adrenal adenoma before surgical intervention, with minimal side effects.
Alexander V Amram, Stephen Cutie, and Guo N Huang
Research conducted across phylogeny on cardiac regenerative responses following heart injury implicates endocrine signaling as a pivotal regulator of both cardiomyocyte proliferation and heart regeneration. Three prominently studied endocrine factors are thyroid hormone, vitamin D, and glucocorticoids, which canonically regulate gene expression through their respective nuclear receptors thyroid hormone receptor, vitamin D receptor, and glucocorticoid receptor. The main animal model systems of interest include humans, mice, and zebrafish, which vary in cardiac regenerative responses possibly due to the differential onsets and intensities of endocrine signaling levels throughout their embryonic to postnatal organismal development. Zebrafish and lower vertebrates tend to retain robust cardiac regenerative capacity into adulthood while mice and other higher vertebrates experience greatly diminished cardiac regenerative potential in their initial postnatal period that is sustained throughout adulthood. Here, we review recent progress in understanding how these three endocrine signaling pathways regulate cardiomyocyte proliferation and heart regeneration with a particular focus on the controversial findings that may arise from different assays, cellular-context, age, and species. Further investigating the role of each endocrine nuclear receptor in cardiac regeneration from an evolutionary perspective enables comparative studies between species in hopes of extrapolating the findings to novel therapies for human cardiovascular disease.