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Open access

Janko Sattler, Jinwen Tu, Shihani Stoner, Jingbao Li, Frank Buttgereit, Markus J Seibel, Hong Zhou, and Mark S Cooper

Patients with chronic immune-mediated arthritis exhibit abnormal hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity. The basis for this abnormality is not known. Immune-mediated arthritis is associated with increased extra-adrenal synthesis of active glucocorticoids by the 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) enzyme. 11β-HSD1 is expressed in the central nervous system, including regions involved in HPA axis regulation. We examined whether altered 11β-HSD1 expression within these regions contributes to HPA axis dysregulation during arthritis. The expression of 11β-HSD1, and other components of glucocorticoid signaling, were examined in various brain regions and the pituitary gland of mice with experimentally induced arthritis. Two arthritis protocols were employed: The K/BxN spontaneous arthritis model for chronic arthritis and the K/BxN serum transfer arthritis model for acute arthritis. 11β-HSD1 mRNA (Hsd11b1) was expressed in the hippocampus, hypothalamus, cortex, cerebellum and pituitary gland. Hypothalamic Hsd11b1 expression did not change in response to arthritis in either model. Pituitary Hsd11b1 expression was however significantly increased in both chronic and acute arthritis models. Hippocampal Hsd11b1 was decreased in acute but not chronic arthritis. Chronic, but not acute, arthritis was associated with a reduction in hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone and arginine vasopressin expression. In both models, serum adrenocorticotropic hormone and corticosterone levels were no different from non-inflammatory controls. These findings demonstrate inflammation-dependent regulation of Hsd11b1 expression in the pituitary gland and hippocampus. The upregulation of 11β-HSD1 expression in the pituitary during both chronic and acute arthritis, and thus, an increase in glucocorticoid negative feedback, could contribute to the abnormalities in HPA axis activity seen in immune-mediated arthritis.

Open access

Clara Odilia Sailer, Sophia Julia Wiedemann, Konrad Strauss, Ingeborg Schnyder, Wiebke Kristin Fenske, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Osmotic stimulus or stress results in vasopressin release. Animal and human in vitro studies have shown that inflammatory parameters, such as interleukin-8 (IL-8) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), increase in parallel in the central nervous system and bronchial, corneal or intestinal epithelial cell lines in response to osmotic stimulus. Whether osmotic stimulus directly causes a systemic inflammatory response in humans is unknown. We therefore investigated the influence of osmotic stimulus on circulatory markers of systemic inflammation in healthy volunteers. In this prospective cohort study, 44 healthy volunteers underwent a standardized test protocol with an osmotic stimulus leading into the hyperosmotic/hypernatremic range (serum sodium ≥150 mmol/L) by hypertonic saline infusion. Copeptin – a marker indicating vasopressin activity – serum sodium and osmolality, plasma IL-8 and TNF-α were measured at baseline and directly after osmotic stimulus. Median (range) serum sodium increased from 141 mmol/L (136, 147) to 151 mmol/L (145, 154) (P < 0.01), serum osmolality increased from 295 mmol/L (281, 306) to 315 mmol/L (304, 325) (P < 0.01). Median (range) copeptin increased from 4.3 pg/L (1.1, 21.4) to 28.8 pg/L (19.9, 43.4) (P < 0.01). Median (range) IL-8 levels showed a trend to decrease from 0.79 pg/mL (0.37, 1.6) to 0.7 pg/mL (0.4, 1.9) (P < 0.09) and TNF-α levels decreased from 0.53 pg/mL (0.11, 1.1) to 0.45 pg/mL (0.12, 0.97) (P < 0.036). Contrary to data obtained in vitro, circulating proinflammatory cytokines tend to or decrease in human plasma after osmotic stimulus. In this study, osmotic stimulus does not increase circulating markers of systemic inflammation.

Open access

Peter Ergang, Anna Mikulecká, Martin Vodicˇka, Karla Vagnerová, Ivan Mikšík, and Jirˇí Pácha

Stress is an important risk factors for human diseases. It activates the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and increases plasma glucocorticoids, which are powerful regulators of immune system. The response of the target cells to glucocorticoids depends not only on the plasma concentrations of cortisol and corticosterone but also on their local metabolism. This metabolism is catalyzed by 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases type 1 and 2, which interconvert glucocorticoid hormones cortisol and corticosterone and their 11-oxo metabolites cortisone and 11-dehydrocorticosterone. The goal of this study was to determine whether stress modulates glucocorticoid metabolism within lymphoid organs – the structures where immune cells undergo development and activation. Using the resident-intruder paradigm, we studied the effect of social stress on glucocorticoid metabolism in primary and secondary lymphoid organs of Fisher 344 (F344) and Lewis (LEW) rats, which exhibit marked differences in their HPA axis response to social stressors and inflammation. We show that repeated social defeat increased the regeneration of corticosterone from 11-dehydrocorticosterone in the thymus, spleen and mesenteric lymphatic nodes (MLN). Compared with the F344 strain, LEW rats showed higher corticosterone regeneration in splenocytes of unstressed rats and in thymic and MLN mobile cells after stress but corticosterone regeneration in the stroma of all lymphoid organs was similar in both strains. Inactivation of corticosterone to 11-dehydrocorticosterone was found only in the stroma of lymphoid organs but not in mobile lymphoid cells and was not upregulated by stress. Together, our findings demonstrate the tissue- and strain-dependent regeneration of glucocorticoids following social stress.

Open access

Franka S Schaebs, Gwen Wirobski, Sarah Marshall-Pescini, Friederike Range, and Tobias Deschner

Within the last decade, oxytocin (OT) has attracted a lot of attention in the context of various human social behaviors. Besides its importance in regulating physiological processes in females related to giving birth and lactation, OT is involved in the establishment and maintenance of social relationships, trust and emotion recognition. However, results are not always consistent across studies, which may partly be due to the incomplete validation of methods used to assess OT levels. Carefully validating a method before its use is of crucial importance to ensure that it can be used to accurately, reliably and repeatedly assess OT levels. With this study we evaluated a commercially available Enzyme Immunoassay to assess OT in human urine samples by conducting a careful analytical validation. Results indicate that, with regard to parallelism and immunoreactivity, human urinary OT can be assessed reliably. However, extraction methods need further improvement to optimize measures of accuracy and extraction efficiency, especially in the lower range of the assay system. Tests on OT stability indicate that OT is affected by degradation when stored at 4°C or room temperature. Storing urine samples over longer periods revealed that OT levels are most stable when stored as ethanol extracts at −20°C compared to being stored as samples at −20°C or −80°C. Although some of the validated parameters did not reach the intended quality criteria, this study highlights the importance of such in depth validation procedures and reporting results to make them available to researchers embarking on projects utilizing such methods.

Open access

Carlo Cinque, Manuela Zinni, Anna Rita Zuena, Chiara Giuli, Sebastiano G Alemà, Assia Catalani, Paola Casolini, and Roberto Cozzolino

Knowledge of animals’ hormonal status is important for conservation studies in wild or semi-free-ranging conditions as well as for behavioural and clinical experiments conducted in laboratory research, mostly performed on rats and mice. Faecal sampling is a useful non-invasive method to obtain steroid hormone assessments. Nevertheless, in laboratory studies, unlike other contexts, faecal sampling is less utilised. One of the issues raised is the necessity to collect samples belonging to different animals, separately. Usually, researchers using faecal sampling solve this problem through the isolation of animals or taking the cage rather than single animal as unit of study. These solutions though, could lead to unreliable measurements, and cannot be applied in many studies. Our aim was to show the biological reliability of individual faecal corticosterone metabolite (FCM) assessments in socially housed male and female Wistar rats. We analytically validated the enzyme immunoassay kit used for FCM assessments. Then, we exposed the animals to two different stress stimuli that are known to activate the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis and the following release of corticosterone to biologically validate the EIA kit: environmental enrichment and predator odour. Individual faecal sampling from social animals was collected through short-time handling. The results demonstrated that both the stimuli increased FCM levels in male and female rats showing the reliability of EIA kit assessment and the applicability of our sampling method. We also found a diurnal rhythm in FCM levels. These results could help to increase the use of faecal hormone metabolite determinations in studies conducted on rats.

Open access

Milena Kloter, Claudia Gregoriano, Ellen Haag, Alexander Kutz, Beat Mueller, and Philipp Schuetz

Objective

Systemic infections and sepsis lead to strong activation of the vasopressin system, which is pivotal for stimulation of the endocrine stress response and, in addition, has vasoconstrictive and immunomodulatory effects. Our aim was to assess the significance of the vasopressor system through measurement of C-terminal proAVP (copeptin) regarding mortality prediction in a large prospective cohort of patients with systemic infection.

Design and methods

This secondary analysis of the observational cohort TRIAGE study included consecutive, adult, medical patients with an initial diagnosis of infection seeking emergency department care. We used multivariable regression analysis to assess associations of copeptin levels in addition to the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score with 30-day mortality. Discrimination was assessed by calculation of the area under the curve (AUC).

Results

Overall, 45 of 609 (7.4%) patients with infection died within 30 days. Non-survivors had a marked upregulation of the vasopressin system with a more than four-fold increase in admission copeptin levels compared to non-survivors (199.9 ± 204.7 vs 46.6 ± 77.2 pmol/L). In a statistical model, copeptin was significantly associated with mortality (adjusted odds ratio of 1.04, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.07, P = 0.002). Regarding discrimination, copeptin alone showed an AUC of 0.82, while adding copeptin to the SOFA score significantly improved its prognostic ability (AUC 0.83 vs 0.86, P = 0.027).

Conclusion

Activation of the vasopressin system mirrored by an increase in copeptin levels provided significant information regarding mortality risk and improved the SOFA score for prediction of sepsis mortality.

Open access

S U Jayasinghe, S J Torres, C A Nowson, A J Tilbrook, and A I Turner

We tested the hypothesis that overweight/obese men aged 50–70 years will have a greater salivary cortisol, salivary alpha amylase and heart rate (HR) responses to psychological stress compared with age matched lean men. Lean (BMI=20–25 kg/m2; n=19) and overweight/obese (BMI=27–35 kg/m2; n=17) men (50–70 years) were subjected to a well-characterised psychological stress (Trier Social Stress Test, TSST) at 1500 h. Concentrations of cortisol and alpha amylase were measured in saliva samples collected every 7–15 min from 1400 to 1700 h. HR was recorded using electrocardiogram. Body weight, BMI, percentage body fat, resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure and mean arterial pressure were significantly higher (P<0.05) in overweight/obese men compared with lean men. Both groups responded to the TSST with a substantial elevation in salivary cortisol (372%), salivary alpha amylase (123%) and HR (22%). These responses did not differ significantly between the groups (time×treatment interaction for salivary cortisol, salivary alpha amylase and HR; P=0.187, P=0.288, P=0.550, respectively). There were no significant differences between the groups for pretreatment values, peak height, difference between pretreatment values and peak height (reactivity) or area under the curve for salivary cortisol, salivary alpha amylase or HR (P>0.05 for all). The results showed that, for men with a moderate level of overweight/obesity who were otherwise healthy, the response of salivary cortisol, salivary alpha amylase and HR to acute psychological stress was not impaired.

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

Context

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.

Objective

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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

Małgorzata Kałużna, Agnieszka Nomejko, Aleksandra Słowińska, Katarzyna Wachowiak-Ochmańska, Katarzyna Pikosz, Katarzyna Ziemnicka, and Marek Ruchała

Background

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a multi-symptom disorder linked with a range of metabolic and hormonal disturbances. Psychological and sexual aspects of PCOS also need to be considered.

Objective of the study

This study aimed to assess sexual satisfaction (SS) in PCOS patients and eumenorrheic controls (CON). The relationships between SS, depressive symptoms, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and hormonal and metabolic profiles were evaluated.

Methods

In this study, 190 patients with PCOS (mean age 26.34 ± 5.47 years) and 197 age-matched CON (mean age 27.12 ± 4.97 years) were enrolled. All subjects completed Polish version of the Sexual Satisfaction Questionnaire (SSQ), WHO Quality of Life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF), and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale-Revised (CESD-R) questionnaire. Fasting blood samples were collected to assess hormonal, lipid, and glucose profiles. Anthropometric measures were collected. Metabolic syndrome (MS) was evaluated according to the IDF-AHA/NHLBI criteria.

Results

Patients with PCOS and MS had lower SS vs non-MS-PCOS. There were no significant differences in the level of SS, presence of depressive symptoms, or HRQoL between PCOS and CON (P > 0.05). Negative correlations were found between the SS level and BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-height ratio in PCOS women. However, overweight or obese PCOS women did not differ in SS levels vs normal-weight PCOS patients. The social dimension of WHOQOL-BREF was the only significant predictor of SS in PCOS patients.

Conclusions

SS in PCOS women appears to be undisturbed. However, MS in PCOS patients could negatively influence SS. The level of SS should be assessed in PCOS women, especially if MS is present.

Open access

Agnieszka Bogusz, Svenja Boekhoff, Monika Warmuth-Metz, Gabriele Calaminus, Maria Eveslage, and Hermann L Müller

Objective

Quality of life (QoL) is frequently impaired in childhood-onset craniopharyngioma (CP) by hypothalamic syndrome. The debate, whether pretreatment hypothalamic involvement (HI) has apriori prognostic impact or surgical hypothalamic lesions (HL) determine outcome, is controversial.

Design

Survival and outcome of CPs recruited between 2007 and 2014 in KRANIOPHARYNGEOM 2007 were analyzed with regard to reference-confirmed presurgical HI and surgical HL.

Methods

Radiological findings, BMI and QoL were assessed at diagnosis and during follow-up. QoL was assessed using Pediatric Quality of Life (PEDQOL) questionnaire.

Results

One hundred sixty-nine CPs were included presenting with no HI (n = 11), anterior (n = 49) and anterior + posterior (a + p) HI (n = 109) prior to surgery. The latter 109 were analyzed for postoperative HL (no lesion: n = 23, anterior HL: n = 29, a + pHL: n = 57). Progression-free survival (PFS) was higher after complete resection. The highest PFS was observed in CP with a + pHL, especially when compared between non-irradiated subgroups (P = 0.006). Overall survival (OS) rates were 1.0 in all subgroups. CP with a + pHL developed higher BMI (P ≤ 0.001) during follow-up compared between subgroups. 55/109 pts with a + pHI completed PEDQOL at diagnosis (48/109 at 3 years follow-up). QoL was worse for a + pHL patients in terms of physical, social and emotional functionality when compared with the anterior HL and no HL subgroup. BMI development and QoL during follow-up were similar for patients with anterior HL and without HL.

Conclusions

Posterior hypothalamus-sparing surgical strategies are associated with higher QoL, decreased development of obesity and lower PFS in CP.