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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

Yun Hu, Na Li, Peng Jiang, Liang Cheng, Bo Ding, Xiao-Mei Liu, Ke He, Yun-Qing Zhu, Bing-li Liu, Xin Cao, Hong Zhou, and Xiao-Ming Mao

Objective

Thyroid nodules are usually accompanied by elevated thyroglobulin (Tg) level and autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITDs). However, the relationship between Tg and AITDs is not fully understood. Dysfunction of regulatory T cells (Tregs) plays an important role in the development of AITDs. We aimed to evaluate the effects of Tg on the function of Tregs in patients with thyroid nodules.

Methods

Tg levels and the functions of Tregs in peripheral blood and thyroid tissues of patients with thyroid nodules from Nanjing First Hospital were evaluated. The effects of Tg on the function of Tregs from healthy donors were also assessed in vitro. The function of Tregs was defined as an inhibitory effect of Tregs on the effector T cell (CD4+ CD25 T cell) proliferation rate.

Results

The level of Tg in peripheral blood correlated negatively with the inhibitory function of Tregs (R = 0.398, P = 0.03), and Tregs function declined significantly in the high Tg group (Tg >77 μg/L) compared with the normal Tg group (11.4 ± 3.9% vs 27.5 ± 3.5%, P < 0.05). Compared with peripheral blood, the function of Tregs in thyroid declined significantly (P < 0.01), but the proportion of FOXP3+ Tregs in thyroid increased (P < 0.01). High concentration of Tg (100 μg/mL) inhibited the function of Tregs and downregulated FOXP3, TGF-β and IL-10 mRNA expression in Tregs in vitro.

Conclusions

Elevated Tg level could impair the function of Tregs, which might increase the risk of AITDs in patient with thyroid nodules.

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

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

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 (r s = –0.248), IL-10 (r s = –0.253), IL-15 (r s = –0.213), IP-10 (r s = –0.334), and GM-CSF (r s = –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

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

Thabiso R P Mofokeng, Salem A Beshyah, Fazleh Mahomed, Kwazi C Z Ndlovu, and Ian L Ross

Background

The burden and management of primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI) in Africa have not been well documented. We aimed to identify specific disease characteristics, patient demographics, and patterns of clinical management in established PAI in Africa.

Methods

An online survey of physicians’ experience relating to PAI.

Results

There were 1334 responses received, 589 were complete, and 332 respondents reported managing patients with hypoadrenalism. The described responses were related to a calculated pool of 5787 patients with hypoadrenalism (2746 females, 3041 males), of whom 2302 had PAI. The likely causes of PAI in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) vs the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions included autoimmune disease (20% vs 60.3%; P < 0.001), tuberculosis (34% vs 4.1%; P < 0.001), AIDS (29.8% vs 1%; P < 0.001), malignancy, and genetic conditions. Sixteen percent of AD patients (376/2302) presented in an adrenal crisis. Medical emergency identification was not used by 1233 (83.6%) SSA vs 330 (40.4%) MENA patients (P < 0.001), respectively. Relative non-availability of diagnostic tests across both regions included adrenal antibodies 63% vs 69.6% (P = 0.328), s-cortisol 49.4 % vs 26.7% (P = 0.004), s-ACTH 55.7% vs 53.3% (P = 0.217), and adrenal CT scans 52.4% vs 31.8% (P = 0.017) in the SSA and MENA region, respectively. Across the entire cohort, the overall hydrocortisone use and extrapolated proportion of synacthen use were 59.4% and 50.7%, respectively.

Conclusions

Through the perception and practice of healthcare professionals, we identified significant challenges in the diagnosis and management of PAI which may herald high mortality. Differences between regions may reflect the allocation of healthcare resources.

Open access

Henrik H Thomsen, Holger J Møller, Christian Trolle, Kristian A Groth, Anne Skakkebæk, Anders Bojesen, Christian Høst, and Claus H Gravholt

Soluble CD163 (sCD163) is a novel marker linked to states of low-grade inflammation such as diabetes, obesity, liver disease, and atherosclerosis, all prevalent in subjects with Turner syndrome (TS) and Klinefelter syndrome (KS). We aimed to assess the levels of sCD163 and the regulation of sCD163 in regards to treatment with sex hormone therapy in males with and without KS and females with and without TS. Males with KS (n=70) and age-matched controls (n=71) participating in a cross-sectional study and 12 healthy males from an experimental hypogonadism study. Females with TS (n=8) and healthy age-matched controls (n=8) participating in a randomized crossover trial. The intervention comprised of treatment with sex steroids. Males with KS had higher levels of sCD163 compared with controls (1.75 (0.47–6.90) and 1.36 (0.77–3.11) respectively, P<0.001) and the levels correlated to plasma testosterone (r=−0.31, P<0.01), BMI (r=0.42, P<0.001), and homeostasis model of assessment insulin resistance (r=0.46, P<0.001). Treatment with testosterone did not significantly lower sCD163. Females with TS not receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT) had higher levels of sCD163 than those of their age-matched healthy controls (1.38±0.44 vs 0.91±0.40, P=0.04). HRT and oral contraceptive therapy decreased sCD163 in TS by 22% (1.07±0.30) and in controls by 39% (0.55±0.36), with significance in both groups (P=0.01 and P=0.04). We conclude that levels of sCD163 correlate with endogenous testosterone in KS and are higher in KS subjects compared with controls, but treatment did not significantly lower levels. Both endogenous and exogenous estradiol in TS was associated with lower levels of sCD163.

Open access

Liubov G Yanevskaya, Tatiana Karonova, Ilya V Sleptsov, Marina Evgenevna Boriskova, Aluza Ramilevna Bakhtiyarova, Roman A Chernikov, Karina Aleksandrovna Pogosian, Alena Timurovna Andreeva, Denis Andreevich Lebedev, Elena Nikolaevna Grineva, and John P Bilezikian

Objective

The aim of our study was to investigate the distribution of the PHPT clinical manifestations and biochemical features in patients who underwent parathyroidectomy.

Materials and methods

Medical records of 449 patients from three Medical Centers (Saint-Petersburg, Russia), hospitalized during a period from 2011 to 2018, were reviewed. History and anthropometric data, laboratory results (iPTH, total and iCa, phosphorus, ALP, 24-h urinary calcium, 25(OH)D) and imaging data (ultrasonography, scintigraphy, CT/MRI scan, DXA) were analyzed.

Results

Three hundred ninety-four patients were included in the final analysis. Median age was 60 years with 94.2% being women. Symptomatic disease was evident in 222 (56.4%) patients, asymptomatic in 172 (43.6%). Skeletal involvement was more common for women, while frequency of other manifestations did not differ in both genders. There was no difference between symptomatic and asymptomatic patients in age. Serum iPTH level was higher in symptomatic patients (202.9 and 181.0 pg/mL, P = 0.022). Serum 25(OH)D level was estimated in few patients and negatively correlated with PTH (r = ¯0.294, P = 0.005), iCa (r = ¯0.268, P = 0.010) and total Ca (r = ¯0.284, P = 0.014) levels. Manifestations of CVD were observed in 67.7% of cases and affected equally both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients (70.7 and 63.4%, P = 0.076). Both age and BMI were higher in patients with CVD, whether or not they were symptomatic (62 and 53 years, P < 0.0001; 30.4 vs 26.0 kg/m2, P < 0.0001, respectively).

Conclusions

This experience illustrates that symptomatic phenotype is still the most common form of PHPT.