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Open access

Violeta Iotova, Camilla Schalin-Jäntti, Petra Bruegmann, Manuela Broesamle, Natasa Bratina, Vallo Tillmann, Olaf Hiort, and Alberto M Pereira

Objective

The European Reference Network on Rare Endocrine Conditions (Endo-ERN), operational since 2017, consists of 71 health care providers (HCPs) in 19 EU member states. Our objective was to assess education and knowledge on rare endocrine conditions.

Design and methods

A survey was developed and sent through the DIGIT-EUROSURVEY system to all Endo-ERN HCPs.

Results

Response rate was 55% (n = 146), 95% physicians, 58% >20 years of experience, 96% academics. Largest knowledge gaps were reported for the transition and neonatal ages, and for the GPs. Less than 50% of HCPs had structured educational rare diseases (RD) plans, while 86% used RD specific guidelines. HCPs would share educational materials within Endo-ERN (74%), and participate in an accreditation model (85%). E-learning portals of the endocrine scientific societies used 58% (ESPE) and 64% (ESE). Most participants (90%) regarded Endo-ERN coordinated educational activities (annual meetings slots, webinars, etc.) as highly important and supported a common educational platform. Social media was perceived as important for educating patients (86%) but not for physicians (36%). Seventy-five % had developed patient education materials; only 31% had specific children’s materials, and by-country availability varied from 0 to 100%. Respondents provided newly diagnosed patients with their own material in the national language (81%); referred to advocacy groups (68%), and relevant online sources (50%). Respondents believed the European Commission should fund education through Endo-ERN.

Conclusion

Identified knowledge gaps in rare endocrine disorders set the basis for fast catch-up through collaboration, alignment with patients’ needs, and further development of existing and newly developed educational resources.

Open access

Navid Tabriz, Kilian Gloy, Astrid Schantzen, Dennis Fried, Dirk Weyhe, and Verena Uslar

Objectives

Validation of a German version of the ThyPRO-39 questionnaire for quality of life (QoL) in patients with benign thyroid diseases.

Design

Internal consistency, retest reliability, and validity were to be assessed in a test-retest study.

Methods

The ThyPRO-39 was translated based on standard methodology. A sample of 98 patients with benign thyroid diseases was tested with the ThyPRO-39de and the generic EuroQol 5D-5L. Forty-four patients with stable symptoms after 2 weeks formed the repeated measures sample. Cronbach’s alpha was calculated for the ThyPRO-39de composite score and for each disease-specific scale. Intraclass correlations between the original and the repeated measures sample were calculated for each scale as well as Pearson correlations between various ThyPRO scales and the EuroQol. T-tests were used to test for differences in the goiter and hyperthyroid symptom scales between relevant patient groups and other patients.

Results

Internal consistency was between satisfactory and good, except for two scales (tiredness and cosmetic complaints/appearance). The test-retest correlation was between 0.62 and 0.8 for most scales, but below 0.5 for two scales (tiredness and impaired social life). There were significant correlations between the EuroQol index score and most aspects of the ThyPRO-39de. Only the hyperthyroid symptoms scale was specific for the relevant patient group (Graves’ disease).

Conclusion

The ThyPRO-39de may be recommended for use in clinical and research settings, especially with regards to the composite score. However, the underlying thyroid disease should always be kept in mind when interpreting the test results. A larger sample would be needed to implement further improvements.

Open access

E M Winter, A Ireland, N C Butterfield, M Haffner-Luntzer, M-N Horcajada, A G Veldhuis-Vlug, L Oei, G Colaianni, and N Bonnet

In this review we discuss skeletal adaptations to the demanding situation of pregnancy and lactation. Calcium demands are increased during pregnancy and lactation, and this is effectuated by a complex series of hormonal changes. The changes in bone structure at the tissue and whole bone level observed during pregnancy and lactation appear to largely recover over time. The magnitude of the changes observed during lactation may relate to the volume and duration of breastfeeding and return to regular menses. Studies examining long-term consequences of pregnancy and lactation suggest that there are small, site-specific benefits to bone density and that bone geometry may also be affected. Pregnancy- and lactation-induced osteoporosis (PLO) is a rare disease for which the pathophysiological mechanism is as yet incompletely known; here, we discuss and speculate on the possible roles of genetics, oxytocin, sympathetic tone and bone marrow fat. Finally, we discuss fracture healing during pregnancy and lactation and the effects of estrogen on this process.

Open access

Lisa Arnetz, Neda Rajamand Ekberg, Kerstin Brismar, and Michael Alvarsson

Objective

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.

Methods

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.

Design

Cross-sectional study.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Open access

Filippo Ceccato, Elisa Selmin, Giorgia Antonelli, Mattia Barbot, Andrea Daniele, Marco Boscaro, Mario Plebani, and Carla Scaroni

Context

The low-dose short synacthen test (LDSST) is recommended for patients with suspected central adrenal insufficiency (AI) if their basal serum cortisol (F) levels are not indicative of an intact hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis.

Objective

To evaluate diagnostic threshold for salivary F before and 30 min after administering 1 μg of synacthen, performed before 09:30 h.

Design

A cross-sectional study from 2014 to 2020.

Setting

A tertiary referral university hospital.

Patients

In this study, 174 patients with suspected AI, 37 with central AI and 137 adrenal sufficient (AS), were included.

Main outcome measure

The diagnostic accuracy (sensitivity (SE), specificity (SP)) of serum and salivary F levels measured, respectively, by chemiluminescence immunoassay and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

Results

Low basal serum or salivary F levels could predict AI. For the LDSST, the best ROC-calculated threshold for serum F to differentiate AI from AS was 427 nmol/L (SE 79%, SP 89%), serum F > 500 nmol/L reached SP 100%. A salivary F peak > 12.1 nmol/L after administering synacthen reached SE 95% and SP 84% for diagnosing central AI, indicating a conclusive reduction in the likelihood of AI. This ROC-calculated threshold for salivary F was similar to the 2.5th percentile of patients with a normal HPA axis, so it was considered sufficient to exclude AI. Considering AS those patients with salivary F > 12.1 nmol/L after LDSST, we could avoid unnecessary glucocorticoid treatment: 99/150 subjects (66%) had an inadequate serum F peak after synacthen, but salivary F was >12.1 nmol/L in 79 cases, who could, therefore, be considered AS.

Conclusions

Salivary F levels > 12.1 nmol/L after synacthen administration can indicate an intact HPA axis in patients with an incomplete serum F response, avoiding the need to start glucocorticoid replacement treatment.

Open access

Eva Novoa, Marcel Gärtner, and Christoph Henzen

Objective

The study aimed to assess the possible systemic effects of intratympanic dexamethasone (IT-Dex) on the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, inflammation, and bone metabolism.

Design

A prospective cohort study including 30 adult patients of a tertiary referral ENT clinic treated with 9.6 mg IT-Dex over a period of 10 days was carried out.

Methods

Effects on plasma and salivary cortisol concentrations (basal and after low-dose (1 μg) ACTH stimulation), peripheral white blood cell count, and biomarkers for bone turnover were measured before (day 0) and after IT-Dex (day 16). Additional measurements for bone turnover were performed 5 months after therapy. Clinical information and medication with possible dexamethasone interaction were recorded.

Results

IT-Dex was well tolerated, and no effect was detected on the HPA axis (stimulated plasma and salivary cortisol concentration on day 0: 758±184 and 44.5±22.0 nmol/l; day 16: 718±154 and 39.8±12.4 nmol/l; P=0.58 and 0.24 respectively). Concentrations of osteocalcin (OC) and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BSAP) did not differ after dexamethasone (OC on days 0 and 16 respectively: 24.1±10.5 and 23.6±8.8 μg/l; BSAP on day 0, 16, and after 5 months respectively: 11.5±4.2, 10.3±3.4, and 12.6±5.06 μg/l); similarly, there was no difference in the peripheral white blood cell count (5.7×1012/l and 6.1×1012/l on days 0 and 16 respectively).

Conclusions

IT-Dex therapy did not interfere with endogenous cortisol secretion or bone metabolism.

Open access

Lin Ji, Huan-Tong Wu, Xiao-Yan Qin, and Rongfeng Lan

Since discovery in 1982, carboxypeptidase E (CPE) has been shown to be involved in the biosynthesis of a wide range of neuropeptides and peptide hormones in endocrine tissues, and in the nervous system. This protein is produced from pro-CPE and exists in soluble and membrane forms. Membrane CPE mediates the targeting of prohormones to the regulated secretory pathway, while soluble CPE acts as an exopeptidase and cleaves C-terminal basic residues from peptide intermediates to generate bioactive peptides. CPE also participates in protein internalization, vesicle transport and regulation of signaling pathways. Therefore, in two types of CPE mutant mice, Cpefat/Cpefat and Cpe knockout, loss of normal CPE leads to a lot of disorders, including diabetes, hyperproinsulinemia, low bone mineral density and deficits in learning and memory. In addition, the potential roles of CPE and ΔN-CPE, an N-terminal truncated form, in tumorigenesis and diagnosis were also addressed. Herein, we focus on dissecting the pathophysiological roles of CPE in the endocrine and nervous systems, and related diseases.

Open access

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

Background/aims

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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

Mojca Zerjav Tansek, Ana Bertoncel, Brina Sebez, Janez Zibert, Urh Groselj, Tadej Battelino, and Magdalena Avbelj Stefanija

Despite recent improvements in the composition of the diet, lower mineral bone density and overweight tendencies are incoherently described in patients with phenylketonuria (PKU). The impact of dietary factors and plasma phenylalanine levels on growth, BMI, body composition, and bone mineral density was investigated in our cohort of patients with hyperphenylalaninemia (HPA) with or without dietary treatment. The anthropometric, metabolic, BMI and other nutritional indicators and bone mineral density were compared between the group of 96 treated patients with PKU (58 classic PKU (cPKU) and 38 patients with moderate-mild PKU defined as non-classic PKU (non-cPKU)) and the untreated group of 62 patients with benign HPA. Having compared the treated and untreated groups, there were normal outcomes and no statistically significant differences in BMI, body composition, and bone mineral density. Lower body height standard deviation scores were observed in the treated as compared to the untreated group (P < 0.001), but the difference was not significant when analyzing patients older than 18 years; however, cPKU adults were shorter compared to non-cPKU treated adults (P = 0.012). Interestingly, the whole-body fat was statistically higher in non-cPKU as compared to cPKU patients. In conclusion, the dietary treatment ensured adequate nutrition without significant consequences in BMI, body composition, and bone mineral density. A low protein diet may have delayed the growth in childhood, but the treated patients gained a normal final height. Mild untreated hyperphenylalaninemia characteristic for benign HPA had no negative physiological effect on bone mineral density.

Open access

Ananda A Santana-Ribeiro, Giulliani A Moreira-Brasileiro, Manuel H Aguiar-Oliveira, Roberto Salvatori, Vitor O Carvalho, Claudia K Alvim-Pereira, Carlos R Araújo-Daniel, Júlia G Reis-Costa, Alana L Andrade-Guimarães, Alécia A Oliveira-Santos, Edgar R Vieira, and Miburge B Gois-Junior

Objectives

Walking and postural balance are extremely important to obtain food and to work. Both are critical for quality of life and ability to survive. While walking reflects musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary systems, postural balance depends on body size, muscle tone, visual, vestibular and nervous systems. Since GH and IGF-I act on all these systems, we decided to study those parameters in a cohort of individuals with severe short stature due to untreated isolated GH deficiency (IGHD) caused by a mutation in the GHRH receptor gene. These IGHD subjects, despite reduction in muscle mass, are very active and have normal longevity.

Methods

In a cross-sectional study, we assessed walking (by a 6-min walk test), postural balance (by force platform) and fall risk (by the 'Timed Up and Go' test) in 31 IGHD and 40 matched health controls.

Results

The percentage of the walked distance measured in relation to the predicted one was similar in groups, but higher in IGHD, when corrected by the leg length. Absolute postural balance data showed similar velocity of unipodal support in the two groups, and better values, with open and closed eyes and unipodal support, in IGHD, but these differences became non-significant when corrected for height and lower-limb length. The time in 'Timed Up and Go' test was higher in IGHD cohort, but still below the cut-off value for fall risk.

Conclusion

IGHD subjects exhibit satisfactory walking and postural balance, without increase in fall risk.