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Open access

Yongping Liu, Shuo Wang, Qingling Guo, Yongze Li, Jing Qin, Na Zhao, Yushu Li, Zhongyan Shan, and Weiping Teng

Objective

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) is characterized by elevated specific auto-antibodies, including TgAb and TPOAb. Increasing evidence has demonstrated the essential role of Th17 cells in HT. However, the underlying mechanism is still unclear. Semaphorin 5A (Sema 5A) is involved in several autoimmune diseases through the regulation of immune cells. The aim of the present study was to explore the role of Sema 5A in HT.

Methods

We measured serum Sema 5A levels in HT (n = 92) and healthy controls (n = 111) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). RNA levels of Sema 5A and their receptors (plexin-A1 and plexin-B3), as well as several cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-4 and IL-17), were detected by real-time polymerase chain reaction in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 23 patients with HT and 31 controls. In addition, we investigated the relationship between serum Sema 5A and HT.

Results

Serum Sema 5A in HT increased significantly compared with healthy controls (P < 0.001). Moreover, serum Sema 5A levels were positively correlated with TgAb (r = 0.511, P < 0.001), TPOAb (r = 0.423, P < 0.001), TSH (r = 0.349, P < 0.001) and IL-17 mRNA expression (r = 0.442, P < 0.001). Increased Sema 5A RNA expression was observed (P = 0.041) in HT compared with controls. In receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, serum Sema 5A predicted HT with a sensitivity of 79.35% and specificity of 96.40%, and the area under the curve of the ROC curve was 0.836 (95% CI: 0.778–0.884, P < 0.001).

Conclusions

These data demonstrated elevated serum Sema 5A in HT patients for the first time. Serum Sema 5A levels were correlated with thyroid auto-antibodies and IL-17 mRNA expression. Sema 5A may be involved in immune response of HT patients.

Open access

Earn H Gan, Wendy Robson, Peter Murphy, Robert Pickard, Simon Pearce, and Rachel Oldershaw

Background

The highly plastic nature of adrenal cortex suggests the presence of adrenocortical stem cells (ACSC), but the exact in vivo identity of ACSC remains elusive. A few studies have demonstrated the differentiation of adipose or bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) into steroid-producing cells. We therefore investigated the isolation of multipotent MSC from human adrenal cortex.

Methods

Human adrenals were obtained as discarded surgical material. Single-cell suspensions from human adrenal cortex (n = 3) were cultured onto either complete growth medium (CM) or MSC growth promotion medium (MGPM) in hypoxic condition. Following ex vivo expansion, their multilineage differentiation capacity was evaluated. Phenotype markers were analysed by immunocytochemistry and flow cytometry for cell-surface antigens associated with bone marrow MSCs and adrenocortical-specific phenotype. Expression of mRNAs for pluripotency markers was assessed by q-PCR.

Results

The formation of colony-forming unit fibroblasts comprising adherent cells with fibroblast-like morphology were observed from the monolayer cell culture, in both CM and MGPM. Cells derived from MGPM revealed differentiation towards osteogenic and adipogenic cell lineages. These cells expressed cell-surface MSC markers (CD44, CD90, CD105 and CD166) but did not express the haematopoietic, lymphocytic or HLA-DR markers. Flow cytometry demonstrated significantly higher expression of GLI1 in cell population harvested from MGPM, which were highly proliferative. They also exhibited increased expression of the pluripotency markers.

Conclusion

Our study demonstrates that human adrenal cortex harbours a mesenchymal stem cell-like population. Understanding the cell biology of adrenal cortex- derived MSCs will inform regenerative medicine approaches in autoimmune Addison’s disease.

Open access

Clara Lundetoft Clausen, Åse Krogh Rasmussen, Trine Holm Johannsen, Linda Maria Hilsted, Niels Erik Skakkebæk, Pal Bela Szecsi, Lise Pedersen, Thomas Benfield, and Anders Juul

The hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid hormone axis might be affected in COVID-19, but existing studies have shown varying results. It has been hypothesized that hyperinflammation, as reflected by the secretion of cytokines, might induce thyroid dysfunction among patients with COVID-19. We explored thyroid hormone involvement in the acute phase of symptomatic COVID-19 and its possible associations with cytokine levels and mortality risk. This was a single-center study of 116 consecutive patients hospitalized for moderate-to-severe COVID-19 disease. Serum concentrations of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (T4), and 45 cytokines/chemokines were measured in all patients within 3 days of admission. Data were extracted retrospectively through a manual review of health records. At admission, 95 (81.9%) were euthyroid; while 21 (18.1%) had biochemically thyroid dysfunction including subclinical thyrotoxicosis (n = 11), overt thyrotoxicosis (n = 2), hypothyroidism (n = 1), non-thyroidal illness (n = 2), and normal TSH but high free T4 (n = 5). TSH levels were inversely correlated with IL-8 (rs = –0.248), IL-10 (rs = –0.253), IL-15 (rs = –0.213), IP-10 (rs = –0.334), and GM-CSF (rs = –0.254). Moreover, IL-8 levels, IP-10, and GM-CSF were significantly higher in patients with serum TSH < 0.4 mIU/L. Lastly, a two-fold increment of IL-8 and IL-10 was associated with significantly higher odds of having TSH < 0.4 mIU/L (odds ratio 1.86 (1.11–3.10) and 1.78 (1.03–3.06)). Serum TSH was not associated with 30- or 90-day mortality. In conclusion, this study suggests that fluctuations of TSH levels in patients with COVID-19 may be influenced by circulating IL-8, IL-10, IL-15, IP-10, and GM-CSF as previously described in autoimmune thyroid diseases.

Open access

Qing Zhu, Jianbin Su, Xueqin Wang, Mengjie Tang, Yingying Gao, and Dongmei Zhang

Graves’ disease (GD), an organ-specific autoimmune disease, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) exhibits immunological and metabolic activities involved in the induction and maintenance of immune responses. We attempted to evaluate the relationship between GD and serum TNF-α and its soluble receptors (sTNFRs), soluble TNF receptor 1 and 2 (sTNF-R1 and sTNF-R2). A total of 72 GD patients and 72 matched healthy individuals were recruited for this study. Serum TNF-α and sTNFRs were measured by sandwich ELISA. In our study, no significant difference was observed in TNF-α, but sTNFRs were found to be significantly elevated in GD patients compared to healthy individuals. Serum sTNFR levels were positively correlated with free triiodothyronine (FT3) and free thyroxine (FT4), and TNF-α was negatively correlated with thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the GD group. It was also shown that thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb) was positively correlated with TNF-α and sTNFRs. Spearman’s correlation analysis showed that only sTNF-R1 was positively correlated with complement C3. Multiple linear regression analysis suggests that serum levels of sTNF-R1 and FT4 may play an important role in the serum level of FT3. According to the median value of FT3 level, GD patients were further divided into a high FT3 group and a low FT3 group. The serum levels of sTNF-R1 in the high FT3 GD group were significantly higher than those in the low FT3 GD group. In conclusion, sTNFRs may play an important role in anti-inflammatory and immune response in GD.

Open access

Emmi Naskali, Katja Dettmer, Peter J Oefner, Pedro A B Pereira, Kai Krohn, Petri Auvinen, Annamari Ranki, and Nicolas Kluger

Objective

Intestinal autoimmunity with gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction has been shown in patients with autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy (APECED). Patients lack entero-endocrine (EE) cells and have circulating autoantibodies (Aabs) against critical enzymes in serotonin (5-HT) biosynthesis.

Design

We sought to determine the serum levels of 5-HT, tryptophan (Trp) metabolites and L-DOPA in 37 Finnish APECED patients and to correlate their abundance with the presence of TPH and AADC Aabs, GI dysfunction and depressive symptoms. We also performed an exploratory analysis of the gut microbiome.

Methods

Serum 5-HT, L-DOPA and Trp metabolite levels were determined by liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS). TPH and AADC Aabs were measured by ELISA. Depression was assessed with a structured RBDI questionnaire. The V3–V4 regions of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene were sequenced for gut microbiome exploration.

Results

Serum 5-HT levels were significantly decreased (130 ± 131 nmol/L vs 686 ± 233 nmol/L, P < 0.0001) in APECED patients with TPH-1 (±AADC) Aabs compared to controls and patients with only AADC Aabs. Reduced 5-HT levels correlated with constipation. The genus Escherichia/Shigella was overrepresented in the intestinal microbiome. No correlation between serum Trp, 5-HT or l-DOPA levels and the RBDI total score, fatigue or sleep disorders was found.

Conclusions

This exploratory study found low serum levels of 5-HT to be associated with constipation and the presence of TPH-1 and AADC Aabs, but not with symptoms of depression. Hence, serum 5-HT, TPH1 and AADC Aabs should be determined in APECED patients presenting with GI symptoms.

Open access

Xuechao Jiang, Yonghui Wang, Xiaoying Li, Leqi He, Qian Yang, Wei Wang, Jun Liu, and Bingbing Zha

B lymphocytes are the source of autoantibodies against the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) in Graves’ disease (GD). Characterization of autoimmune B-cell expression profiles might enable a better understanding of GD pathogenesis. To reveal this, the expression levels of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) and mRNAs (genes) in purified B cells from patients with newly diagnosed GD and healthy individuals were compared using microarrays, which elucidated 604 differentially expressed lncRNAs (DE-lncRNAs) and 410 differentially expressed genes (DEGs). GO and pathway analyses revealed that the DEGs are mainly involved in immune response. A protein–protein interaction network presented experimentally validated interactions among the DEGs. Two independent algorithms were used to identify the DE-lncRNAs that regulate the DEGs. Functional annotation of the deregulated lncRNA–mRNA pairs identified 14 pairs with mRNAs involved in cell proliferation. The lncRNAs TCONS_00022357-XLOC_010919 and n335641 were predicted to regulate TCL1 family AKT coactivator A (TCL1A), and the lncRNA n337845 was predicted to regulate SH2 domain containing 1A (SH2D1A). TCL1A and SH2D1A are highly involved in B-cell proliferation. The differential expression of both genes was validated by qRT-PCR. In conclusion, lncRNA and mRNA expression profiles of B cells from patients with GD indicated that the lncRNA–mRNA pairs n335641–TCL1A, TCONS_00022357-XLOC_010919–TCL1A, and n337845–SH2D1A may participate in GD pathogenesis by modulating B-cell proliferation and survival. Therefore, the identified lncRNA and mRNA may represent novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for GD.

Open access

Salman Razvi, Sanaa Mrabeti, and Markus Luster

The current standard of care for hypothyroidism is levothyroxine (LT4) monotherapy to reduce levels of thyrotropin (thyroid-stimulating hormone, TSH) within its reference range and amelioration of any symptoms. A substantial minority continues to report hypothyroid-like symptoms despite optimized TSH, however. These symptoms are not specific to thyroid dysfunction and are frequent among the euthyroid population, creating a therapeutic dilemma for the treating clinician as well as the patient. We present a concise, narrative review of the clinical research and evidence-based guidance on the management of this challenging population. The clinician may endeavor to ensure that the serum TSH is within the target range. However, the symptomatic patient may turn to alternative non-evidence-based therapies in the hope of obtaining relief. Accordingly, it is important for the clinician to check for conditions unrelated to the thyroid that could account for the ongoing symptoms such as other autoimmune conditions, anemia or mental health disorders. Systematic and thorough investigation of the potential causes of persistent symptoms while receiving LT4 therapy will resolve the problem for most patients. There may be some patients that may benefit from additional treatment with liothyronine (LT3), although it is unclear as yet as to which patient group may benefit the most from combined LT4 + LT3 therapy. In the future, personalized treatment with LT4 + LT3 may be of benefit for some patients with persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism such as those with polymorphisms in the deiodinase enzyme 2 (DIO2). For now, this remains a subject for research.

Open access

Hanna Karhapää, Siru Mäkelä, Hanna Laurén, Marjut Jaakkola, Camilla Schalin-Jäntti, and Micaela Hernberg

Objective: Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) can cause endocrine adverse events. However, endocrine AEs could be related to better treatment outcomes. Our aim was to investigate whether this holds true in a real-world setting of metastatic melanoma patients.

Design: A retrospective single-institution study.

Methods: We included 140 consecutive metastatic melanoma patients treated with ICI between January 2012 and May 2019. We assessed endocrine toxicity and best possible treatment outcomes from electronic patient records, including laboratory parameters, and radiological images.

Results: Of the treated patients, 21 patients (15%) were treated with ipilimumab, 46 (33%) with nivolumab, 67 (48%) with pembrolizumab, and six (4%) with combination therapy (ipilimumab + nivolumab). Endocrine AEs appeared in 29% (41/140) patients. Three patients had two different endocrine AEs. Thyroid disorders were the most common: 26% (36/140), followed by hypophysitis: 4% (5/140). Three subjects (2%, 3/140) were diagnosed with autoimmune diabetes. Three patients had to terminate treatment due to endocrine toxicity. Radiological manifestations of endocrine AEs were found in 16 patients (39%, 16/41). Endocrine toxicity was associated with significantly better treatment outcomes. Median progression-free survival (8.1 months, range 5.1 – 11.1 months vs. 2.7 months, range 2.4 – 3.0 months, P < 0.001), and median overall survival (47.5 months, range 15.5 – 79.5 months vs. 23.7 months, range 15.3 – 32.1 months, P = 0.035) were longer for patients experiencing endocrine AEs.

Conclusions: The higher number of endocrine AEs suggest regular laboratory monitoring aids in AE detection. Endocrine AEs in metastatic melanoma may correlate with better treatment outcomes.

Open access

Hiren Patt, Katrin Koehler, Sailesh Lodha, Swati Jadhav, Chaitanya Yerawar, Angela Huebner, Kunal Thakkar, Sneha Arya, Sandhya Nair, Manjunath Goroshi, Hosahithlu Ganesh, Vijaya Sarathi, Anurag Lila, Tushar Bandgar, and Nalini Shah

Objective

To study genotype–phenotype spectrum of triple A syndrome (TAS).

Methods

Retrospective chart analysis of Indian TAS patients (cohort 1, n = 8) and review of genotyped TAS cases reported in world literature (cohort 2, n = 133, 68 publications).

Results

Median age at presentation was 4.75 years (range: 4–10) and 5 years (range: 1–42) for cohorts 1 and 2, respectively. Alacrima, adrenal insufficiency (AI), achalasia and neurological dysfunction (ND) were seen in 8/8, 8/8, 7/8 and 4/8 patients in cohort 1, and in 99, 91, 93 and 79% patients in cohort 2, respectively. In both cohorts, alacrima was present since birth while AI and achalasia manifested before ND. Mineralocorticoid deficiency (MC) was uncommon (absent in cohort 1, 12.5% in cohort 2). In cohort 1, splice-site mutation in exon 1 (p.G14Vfs*45) was commonest, followed by a deletion in exon 8 (p.S255Vfs*36). Out of 65 mutations in cohort 2, 14 were recurrent and five exhibited regional clustering. AI was more prevalent, more often a presenting feature, and was diagnosed at younger age in T group (those with truncating mutations) as compared to NT (non-truncating mutations) group. ND was more prevalent, more common a presenting feature, with later age at onset in NT as compared to T group.

Conclusion

Clinical profile of our patients is similar to that of patients worldwide. Alacrima is the earliest and most consistent finding. MC deficiency is uncommon. Some recurrent mutations show regional clustering. p.G14Vfs*45 and p.S255Vfs*36 account for majority of AAAS mutations in our cohort. Phenotype of T group differs from that of NT group and merits future research.

Open access

Roxanne C S van Adrichem, Aart Jan van der Lely, Martin Huisman, Piet Kramer, Richard A Feelders, Patric J D Delhanty, and Wouter W de Herder

To date, the value of fasting plasma acylated ghrelin (AG) and unacylated ghrelin (UAG) as potential novel biomarkers in patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) is unknown. The aims of this study are to (i) compare fasting AG and UAG levels between nonobese, nondiabetic NET patients (N=28) and age- (±3 years) and sex-matched nonobese, nondiabetic controls (N=28); and (ii) study the relationship between AG, UAG, and AG/UAG ratios and biochemical (chromogranin-A (CgA) and neuron-specific enolase (NSE) levels) and clinical parameters (age at diagnosis, sex, primary tumor location, carcinoid syndrome, ENETS TNM classification, Ki-67 proliferation index, grading, prior incomplete surgery) in NET patients. Fasting venous blood samples (N=56) were collected and directly stabilized with 4-(2-aminoethyl) benzenesulfonyl fluoride hydrochloride after withdrawal. Plasma AG and UAG levels were determined by ELISA. Expression of ghrelin was examined in tumor tissue by immunohistochemistry. There were no significant differences between NET patients and controls in AG (median: 62.5 pg/mL, IQR: 33.1–112.8 vs median: 57.2pg/mL, IQR: 26.7–128.3, P=0.66) and UAG in levels (median: 76.6pg/mL, IQR: 35.23–121.7 vs median: 64.9, IQR: 27.5–93.1, P=0.44). No significant correlations were found between AG, UAG, and AG/UAG ratios versus biochemical and clinical parameters in NET patients with the exception of age at diagnosis (AG: ρ= −0.47, P=0.012; AG/UAG ratio: ρ= −0.50, P=0.007) and baseline chromogranin-A levels (AG/UAG ratio: ρ= −0.44, P=0.019). In our view, fasting plasma acylated and unacylated ghrelin appear to have no value as diagnostic biomarkers in the clinical follow-up of patients with NETs.