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Open access

Paraskevi Kazakou, Stavroula A Paschou, Theodora Psaltopoulou, Maria Gavriatopoulou, Eleni Korompoki, Katerina Stefanaki, Fotini Kanouta, Georgia N Kassi, Meletios-Athanasios Dimopoulos, and Asimina Mitrakou

Endocrine system plays a vital role in controlling human homeostasis. Understanding the possible effects of COVID-19 on endocrine glands is crucial to prevent and manage endocrine disorders before and during hospitalization in COVID-19-infected patients as well as to follow them up properly upon recovery. Many endocrine glands such as pancreas, hypothalamus and pituitary, thyroid, adrenal glands, testes, and ovaries have been found to express angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptors, the main binding site of the virus. Since the pandemic outbreak, various publications focus on the aggravation of preexisting endocrine diseases by COVID-19 infection or the adverse prognosis of the disease in endocrine patients. However, data on endocrine disorders both during the phase of the infection (early complications) and upon recovery (late complications) are scarce. The aim of this review is to identify and discuss early and late endocrine complications of COVID-19. The majority of the available data refer to glucose dysregulation and its reciprocal effect on COVID-19 infection with the main interest focusing on the presentation of new onset of diabetes mellitus. Thyroid dysfunction with low triiodothyronine, low thyroid stimulating hormone, or subacute thyroiditis has been reported. Adrenal dysregulation and impaired spermatogenesis in affected men have been also reported. Complications of other endocrine glands are still not clear. Considering the recent onset of COVID-19 infection, the available follow-up data are limited, and therefore, long-term studies are required to evaluate certain effects of COVID-19 on the endocrine glands.

Open access

Wolfgang Koechling, Daniel Plaksin, Glenn E Croston, Janni V Jeppesen, Kirsten T Macklon, and Claus Yding Andersen

Recombinant FSH proteins are important therapeutic agents for the treatment of infertility, including follitropin alfa expressed in Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells and, more recently, follitropin delta expressed in the human cell line PER.C6. These recombinant FSH proteins have distinct glycosylation, and have distinct pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles in women. Comparative experiments demonstrated that follitropin delta and follitropin alfa displayed the same in vitro potency at the human FSH receptor, but varied in their pharmacokinetics in mouse and rat. While follitropin delta clearance from serum depended in part on the hepatic asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPR), follitropin alfa clearance was unaffected by ASGPR inhibition in rat or genetic ablation in mice. The distinct properties of follitropin delta and follitropin alfa are likely to contribute to the differing pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles observed in women and to influence their efficacy in therapeutic protocols for the treatment of infertility.

Open access

Karim Gariani and François R Jornayvaz

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the industrialized world. NAFLD encompasses a whole spectrum ranging from simple steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and cirrhosis. The latter can lead to hepatocellular carcinoma. Furthermore, NASH is the most rapidly increasing indication for liver transplantation in western countries and therefore represents a global health issue. The pathophysiology of NASH is complex and includes multiple parallel hits. NASH is notably characterized by steatosis as well as evidence of hepatocyte injury and inflammation, with or without fibrosis. NASH is frequently associated with type 2 diabetes and conditions associated with insulin resistance. Moreover, NASH may also be found in many other endocrine diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome, hypothyroidism, male hypogonadism, growth hormone deficiency or glucocorticoid excess, for example. In this review, we will discuss the pathophysiology of NASH associated with different endocrinopathies.

Open access

Neil R Chappell, Beth Zhou, Amy K Schutt, William E Gibbons, and Chellakkan S Blesson

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common ovulatory defect in women. Although most PCOS patients are obese, a subset of PCOS women are lean but show similar risks for adverse fertility outcomes. A lean PCOS mouse model was created using prenatal androgen administration. This developmentally programmed mouse model was used for this study. Our objective was to investigate if mitochondrial structure and functions were compromised in oocytes obtained from lean PCOS mouse. The lean PCOS mouse model was validated by performing glucose tolerance test, HbA1c levels, body weight and estrous cycle analyses. Oocytes were isolated and were used to investigate inner mitochondrial membrane potential, oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, ATP production, mtDNA copy number, transcript abundance and electron microscopy. Our results demonstrate that lean PCOS mice have similar weight to that of the controls but exhibit glucose intolerance and hyperinsulinemia along with dysregulated estrus cycle. Analysis of their oocytes show impaired inner mitochondrial membrane function, elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) and increased RNA transcript abundance. Electron microscopy of the oocytes showed impaired mitochondrial ultrastructure. In conclusion, the lean PCOS mouse model shows a decreased oocyte quality related to impaired mitochondrial ultrastructure and function.

Open access

Dorte Glintborg, Magda Lambaa Altinok, Pernille Ravn, Kurt Bjerregaard Stage, Kurt Højlund, and Marianne Andersen


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with insulin resistance, adrenal hyperactivity and decreased mental health. We aimed to investigate the changes in adrenal activity, metabolic status and mental health in PCOS during treatment with escitalopram or placebo.


Forty-two overweight premenopausal women with PCOS and no clinical depression were randomized to 12-week SSRI (20 mg escitalopram/day, n = 21) or placebo (n = 21). Patients underwent clinical examination, fasting blood samples, adrenocorticotroph hormone (ACTH) test, 3-h oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and filled in questionnaires regarding mental health and health-related quality of life (HRQoL): WHO Well-Being Index (WHO-5), Major Depression Inventory (MDI), Short Form 36 (SF-36) and PCOS questionnaire.


Included women were aged 31 (6) years (mean (s.d.)) and had body mass index (BMI) 35.8 (6.5) kg/m2 and waist 102 (12) cm. Escitalopram was associated with increased waist (median (quartiles) change 1 (0; 3) cm), P = 0.005 vs change during placebo and increased cortisol levels (cortisol 0, cortisol 60, peak cortisol and area under the curve for cortisol during ACTH test), all P< 0.05 vs changes during placebo. Escitalopram had no significant effect on measures of insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion, fasting lipids, mental health or HRQoL.


Waist circumference and cortisol levels increased during treatment with escitalopram in women with PCOS and no clinical depression, whereas metabolic risk markers, mental health and HRQol were unchanged.

Open access

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.

Open access

Luigi Laino, Silvia Majore, Nicoletta Preziosi, Barbara Grammatico, Carmelilia De Bernardo, Salvatore Scommegna, Anna Maria Rapone, Giacinto Marrocco, Irene Bottillo, and Paola Grammatico

Sex development is a process under genetic control directing both the bi-potential gonads to become either a testis or an ovary, and the consequent differentiation of internal ducts and external genitalia. This complex series of events can be altered by a large number of genetic and non-genetic factors. Disorders of sex development (DSD) are all the medical conditions characterized by an atypical chromosomal, gonadal, or phenotypical sex. Incomplete knowledge of the genetic mechanisms involved in sex development results in a low probability of determining the molecular definition of the genetic defect in many of the patients. In this study, we describe the clinical, cytogenetic, and molecular study of 88 cases with DSD, including 29 patients with 46,XY and disorders in androgen synthesis or action, 18 with 46,XX and disorders in androgen excess, 17 with 46,XY and disorders of gonadal (testicular) development, 11 classified as 46,XX other, eight with 46,XX and disorders of gonadal (ovarian) development, and five with sex chromosome anomalies. In total, we found a genetic variant in 56 out of 88 of them, leading to the clinical classification of every patient, and we outline the different steps required for a coherent genetic testing approach. In conclusion, our results highlight the fact that each category of DSD is related to a large number of different DNA alterations, thus requiring multiple genetic studies to achieve a precise etiological diagnosis for each patient.

Open access

Christian Trummer, Stefan Pilz, Verena Schwetz, Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch, and Elisabeth Lerchbaum


Accumulating evidence from animal and human studies suggests that vitamin D is involved in many functions of the reproductive system in both genders.


The aim of this review was to provide an overview on the effects of vitamin D on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women and androgen metabolism in men.


We performed a systematic literature search in PubMed for relevant English language publications published from January 2012 until September 2017.

Results and discussion

The vitamin D receptor and vitamin D-metabolizing enzymes are found in reproductive tissues of women and men. In women, vitamin D status has been associated with several features of PCOS. In detail, cross-sectional data suggest a regulatory role of vitamin D in PCOS-related aspects such as ovulatory dysfunction, insulin resistance as well as hyperandrogenism. Moreover, results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suggest that vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial for metabolic, endocrine and fertility aspects in PCOS. In men, vitamin D status has been associated with androgen levels and hypogonadism. Further, there is some evidence for a favorable effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone concentrations, although others failed to show a significant effect on testosterone levels.


In summary, vitamin D deficiency is associated with adverse fertility outcomes including PCOS and hypogonadism, but the evidence is insufficient to establish causality. High-quality RCTs are needed to further evaluate the effects of vitamin D supplementation in PCOS women as well as on androgen levels in men.

Open access

Teresa Vilariño-García, Antonio Pérez-Pérez, Esther Santamaría-López, Nicolás Prados, Manuel Fernández-Sánchez, and Víctor Sánchez-Margalet


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex metabolic disorder associated with ovulatory dysfunction, hyperandrogenism, obesity, and insulin resistance, that leads to subfertility. Sam68 is an RNA-binding protein with signaling functions that is ubiquitously expressed, including gonads. Sam68 is recruited to leptin signaling, mediating different leptin actions.


We aimed to investigate the role of Sam68 in leptin signaling, mediating the effect on aromatase expression in granulosa cells and the posible implication of Sam68 in the leptin resistance in PCOS.

Materials and methods

Granulosa cells were from healthy donors (n = 25) and women with PCOS (n = 25), within the age range of 20 to 40 years, from Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI), Seville, Spain. Sam68 expression was inhibited by siRNA method and overexpressed by expression vector. Expression level was analysed by qPCR and immunoblot. Statistical significance was assessed by ANOVA followed by different post-hoc tests. A P value of <0.05 was considered statistically significant.


We have found that leptin stimulation increases phosphorylation and expression level of Sam68 and aromatase in granulosa cells from normal donors. Downregulation of Sam68 expression resulted in a lower activation of MAPK and PI3K pathways in response to leptin, whereas overexpression of Sam68 increased leptin stimulation of signaling, enhancing aromatase expression. Granulosa cells from women with PCOS presented lower expression of Sam68 and were resistant to the leptin effect on aromatase expression.


These results suggest the participation of Sam68 in leptin receptor signaling, mediating the leptin effect on aromatase expression in granulosa cells, and point to a new target in leptin resistance in PCOS.

Open access

Hamidreza Mani, Yogini Chudasama, Michelle Hadjiconstantinou, Danielle H Bodicoat, Charlotte Edwardson, Miles J Levy, Laura J Gray, Janette Barnett, Heather Daly, Trevor A Howlett, Kamlesh Khunti, and Melanie J Davies


To evaluate the effectiveness of a structured education programmes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).


Single-centre, randomised controlled trial, testing a single exposure to a group-based, face-to-face, structured education programme. Inclusion criteria were women with PCOS, aged 18–49 years inclusive and body mass index ≥23 kg/m2 for black and minority ethnicities or ≥25 kg/m2 for white Europeans. Primary outcome was step-count/day at 12 months. Secondary outcomes included indices of physical activity, cardiovascular risk factors, quality of life (QoL) and illness perception (IP).


161 women were included (78 control, 83 intervention); 69% white; mean age 33.4 (s.d. 7.6) years, of whom 100 (48 intervention; 52 control) attended their 12-month visit (38% attrition). 77% of the intervention arm attended the education programme. No significant change in step-count was observed at 12 months (mean difference: +351 steps/day (95% confidence interval −481, +1183); P = 0.40). No differences were found in biochemical or anthropometric outcomes. The education programme improved participants’ IP in 2 dimensions: understanding their PCOS (P < 0.001) and sense of control (P < 0.01) and improved QoL in 3 dimensions: emotions (P < 0.05), fertility (P < 0.05), weight (P < 0.01) and general mental well-being (P < 0.01).


A single exposure to structured education programme did not increase physical activity or improve biochemical markers in overweight and obese women with PCOS. However, providing a structured education in parallel to routine medical treatment can be beneficial for participants’ understanding of their condition, reducing their anxiety and improving their QoL.