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Open access

Stefan Pilz, Armin Zittermann, Christian Trummer, Verena Theiler-Schwetz, Elisabeth Lerchbaum, Martin H Keppel, Martin R Grübler, Winfried März, and Marlene Pandis

Vitamin D testing and treatment is a subject of controversial scientific discussions, and it is challenging to navigate through the expanding vitamin D literature with heterogeneous and partially opposed opinions and recommendations. In this narrative review, we aim to provide an update on vitamin D guidelines and the current evidence on the role of vitamin D for human health with its subsequent implications for patient care and public health issues. Vitamin D is critical for bone and mineral metabolism, and it is established that vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets and osteomalacia. While many guidelines recommend target serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) concentrations of ≥50 nmol/L (20 ng/mL), the minimum consensus in the scientific community is that serum 25(OH)D concentrations below 25–30 nmol/L (10–12 ng/mL) must be prevented and treated. Using this latter threshold of serum 25(OH)D concentrations, it has been documented that there is a high worldwide prevalence of vitamin D deficiency that may require public health actions such as vitamin D food fortification. On the other hand, there is also reason for concern that an exploding rate of vitamin D testing and supplementation increases costs and might potentially be harmful. In the scientific debate on vitamin D, we should consider that nutrient trials differ from drug trials and that apart from the opposed positions regarding indications for vitamin D treatment we still have to better characterize the precise role of vitamin D for human health.

Open access

Maria Stelmachowska-Banaś and Izabella Czajka-Oraniec

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) belong to a new group of anticancer drugs targeting T-cell proteins involved in the activation of immune response toward malignancies. Their introduction into clinical practice was a milestone in modern cancer treatment. However, the significant advantage of ICIs over conventional chemotherapy in terms of therapeutic efficacy is accompanied by new challenges related to specific side effects. ICI-induced immune system activation could lead to the loss of self-tolerance, presenting as autoimmune inflammation and dysfunction of various tissues and organs. Thus, the typical side effects of ICIs include immune-related adverse events (irAEs), among which endocrine irAEs, affecting numerous endocrine glands, have been commonly recognized. This review aimed to outline the current knowledge regarding ICI-induced endocrine disorders from a clinical perspective. We present updated information on the incidence and clinical development of ICI-induced endocrinopathies, including the most frequent thyroiditis and hypophysitis, the rarely observed insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and primary adrenal insufficiency, and the recently described cases of hypoparathyroidism and lipodystrophy. Practical guidelines for monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment of ICI-related endocrine toxicities are also offered. Rising awareness of endocrine irAEs among oncologists, endocrinologists, and other health professionals caring for patients receiving ICIs could contribute to better safety and efficacy. As immunotherapy becomes widespread and approved for new types of malignancies, increased incidences of endocrine irAEs are expected in the future.

Open access

Ashley N Reeb, Andrea Ziegler, and Reigh-Yi Lin

Follicular thyroid cancer (FTC) is the second most common type of thyroid cancers. In order to develop more effective personalized therapies, it is necessary to thoroughly evaluate patient-derived cell lines in in vivo preclinical models before using them to test new, targeted therapies. This study evaluates the tumorigenic and metastatic potential of a panel of three human FTC cell lines (WRO, FTC-238, and TT1609-CO2) with defined genetic mutations in two in vivo murine models: an orthotopic thyroid cancer model to study tumor progression and a tail vein injection model to study metastasis. All cell lines developed tumors in the orthotopic model, with take rates of 100%. Notably, WRO-derived tumors grew two to four times faster than tumors arising from the FTC-238 and TT2609-CO2 cell lines. These results mirrored those of a tail vein injection model for lung metastasis: one hundred percent of mice injected with WRO cells in the tail vein exhibited aggressive growth of bilateral lung metastases within 35 days. In contrast, tail vein injection of FTC-238 or TT2609-CO2 cells did not result in lung metastasis. Together, our work demonstrates that these human FTC cell lines display highly varied tumorigenic and metastatic potential in vivo with WRO being the most aggressive cell line in both orthotopic and lung metastasis models. This information will be valuable when selecting cell lines for preclinical drug testing.

Open access

Barbara J Boucher

Our knowledge of vitamin D has come a long way since the 100 years it took for doctors to accept, between 1860 and 1890, that both sunlight and cod liver oil (a well-known folk remedy) cured and prevented rickets. Vitamins D2/D3 were discovered exactly a hundred years ago, and over the last 50 years vitamin D has been found to have many effects on virtually all human tissues and not just on bone health, while mechanisms affecting the actions of vitamin D at the cellular level are increasingly understood, but deficiency persists globally. Observational studies in humans have shown that better provision of vitamin D is strongly associated, dose-wise, with reductions in current and future health risks in line with the known actions of vitamin D. Randomised controlled trials, commonly accepted as providing a ‘gold standard’ for assessing the efficacy of new forms of treatment, have frequently failed to provide supportive evidence for the expected health benefits of supplementation. Such RCTs, however, have used designs evolved for testing drugs while vitamin D is a nutrient; the appreciation of this difference is critical to identifying health benefits from existing RCT data and for improving future RCT design. This report aims, therefore, to provide a brief overview of the evidence for a range of non-bony health benefits of vitamin D repletion; to discuss specific aspects of vitamin D biology that can confound RCT design and how to allow for them.

Open access

Kennett Sprogøe, Eva Mortensen, David B Karpf, and Jonathan A Leff

The fundamental challenge of developing a long-acting growth hormone (LAGH) is to create a more convenient growth hormone (GH) dosing profile while retaining the excellent safety, efficacy and tolerability of daily GH. With GH receptors on virtually all cells, replacement therapy should achieve the same tissue distribution and effects of daily (and endogenous) GH while maintaining levels of GH and resulting IGF-1 within the physiologic range. To date, only two LAGHs have gained the approval of either the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA); both released unmodified GH, thus presumably replicating distribution and pharmacological actions of daily GH. Other technologies have been applied to create LAGHs, including modifying GH (for example, protein enlargement or albumin binding) such that the resulting analogues possess a longer half-life. Based on these approaches, nearly 20 LAGHs have reached various stages of clinical development. Although most have failed, lessons learned have guided the development of a novel LAGH. TransCon GH is a LAGH prodrug in which GH is transiently bound to an inert methoxy polyethylene glycol (mPEG) carrier. It was designed to achieve the same safety, efficacy and tolerability as daily GH but with more convenient weekly dosing. In phase 2 trials of children and adults with growth hormone deficiency (GHD), similar safety, efficacy and tolerability to daily GH was shown as well as GH and IGF-1 levels within the physiologic range. These promising results support further development of TransCon GH.

Open access

Aldo Bonaventura, Fabrizio Montecucco, and Franco Dallegri

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is increasing all over the world. Targeting good glycemic control is fundamental to avoid the complications of diabetes linked to hyperglycemia. This narrative review is based on material searched for and obtained via PubMed up to April 2015. The search terms we used were: ‘hypoglycemia, diabetes, complications’ in combination with ‘iatrogenic, treatment, symptoms.’ Serious complications might occur from an inappropriate treatment of hyperglycemia. The most frequent complication is iatrogenic hypoglycemia that is often associated with autonomic and neuroglycopenic symptoms. Furthermore, hypoglycemia causes acute cardiovascular effects, which may explain some of the typical symptoms: ischemia, QT prolongation, and arrhythmia. With regards to the latter, the night represents a dangerous period because of the major increase in arrhythmias and the prolonged period of hypoglycemia; indeed, sleep has been shown to blunt the sympatho-adrenal response to hypoglycemia. Two main strategies have been implemented to reduce these effects: monitoring blood glucose values and individualized HbA1c goals. Several drugs for the treatment of T2DM are currently available and different combinations have been recommended to achieve individualized glycemic targets, considering age, comorbidities, disease duration, and life expectancy. In conclusion, according to international guidelines, hypoglycemia-avoiding therapy must reach an individualized glycemic goal, which is the lowest HbA1c not causing severe hypoglycemia and preserving awareness of hypoglycemia.

Open access

L Bahler, H J Verberne, E Brakema, R Tepaske, J Booij, J B Hoekstra, and F Holleman

Bromocriptine is a glucose-lowering drug, which was shown to be effective in obese subjects with insulin resistance. It is usually administered in the morning. The exact working mechanism of bromocriptine still has to be elucidated. Therefore, in this open-label randomized prospective cross-over mechanistic study, we assessed whether the timing of bromocriptine administration (morning vs evening) results in different effects and whether these effects differ between lean and obese subjects. We studied the effect of bromocriptine on insulin sensitivity in 8 lean and 8 overweight subjects using an oral glucose tolerance test. The subjects used bromocriptine in randomized cross-over order for 2 weeks in the morning and 2 weeks in the evening. We found that in lean subjects, bromocriptine administration in the evening resulted in a significantly higher post-prandial insulin sensitivity as compared with the pre-exposure visit (glucose area under the curve (AUC) 742 mmol/L * 120 min (695–818) vs 641 (504–750), P = 0.036, AUC for insulin did not change, P = 0.575). In obese subjects, both morning and evening administration of bromocriptine resulted in a significantly higher insulin sensitivity: morning administration in obese: insulin AUC (55,900 mmol/L * 120 min (43,236–96,831) vs 36,448 (25,213–57,711), P = 0.012) and glucose AUC P = 0.069; evening administration in obese: glucose AUC (735 mmol/L * 120 min (614–988) vs 644 (568–829), P = 0.017) and insulin AUC, P = 0.208. In conclusion, bromocriptine increases insulin sensitivity in both lean and obese subjects. In lean subjects, this effect only occurred when bromocriptine was administrated in the evening, whereas in the obese, insulin sensitivity increased independent of the timing of bromocriptine administration.

Open access

Eric M Ndombi, Valentine Budambula, Mark K Webale, Francis O Musumba, Jesca O Wesongah, Erick Mibei, Aabid A Ahmed, Raphael Lihana, and Tom Were

Adiponectin is an important marker of anthropometric profiles of adipose tissue. However, association of adiponectin and adiposity in HIV mono- and co-infected and hepatitis (HCV) injection drug users (IDUs) has not been elucidated. Therefore, the relationship of total adiponectin levels with anthropometric indices of adiposity was examined in HIV mono-infected (anti-retroviral treatment, ART-naive, n=16 and -experienced, n=34); HCV mono-infected, n=36; HIV and HCV co-infected (ART-naive, n=5 and -experienced, n=13); uninfected, n=19 IDUs; and healthy controls, n=16 from coastal Kenya. Anthropometric indices of adiposity were recorded and total circulating adiponectin levels were measured in serum samples using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Adiponectin levels differed significantly amongst the study groups (P<0.0001). Post-hoc analyses revealed decreased levels in HIV mono-infected ART-naive IDUs in comparison to uninfected IDUs (P<0.05) and healthy controls (P<0.05). However, adiponectin levels were elevated in HCV mono-infected IDUs relative to HIV mono-infected ART-naive (P<0.001) and -experienced (P<0.001) as well as HIV and HCV co-infected ART-naive (P<0.05) IDUs. Furthermore, adiponectin correlated with weight (ρ=0.687; P=0.003) and BMI (ρ=0.598; P=0.014) in HIV mono-infected ART-naive IDUs; waist circumference (ρ=−0.626; P<0.0001), hip (ρ=−0.561; P=0.001) circumference, and bust-to-waist ratio (ρ=0.561; P=0.001) in HIV mono-infected ART-experienced IDUs; waist girth (ρ=0.375; P=0.024) in HCV mono-infected IDUs; and waist-to-hip ratio (ρ=−0.872; P=0.048) in HIV and HCV co-infected ART-naive IDUs. Altogether, these results suggest suppression of adiponectin production in treatment-naive HIV mono-infected IDUs and that circulating adiponectin is a useful surrogate marker of altered adiposity in treatment-naive and -experienced HIV and HCV mono- and co-infected IDUs.

Open access

Martin Zweifel, Beat Thürlimann, Salome Riniker, Patrik Weder, Roger von Moos, Olivia Pagani, Martin Bigler, Karin M Rothgiesser, Christiane Pilop, Hanne Hawle, Peter Brauchli, Coya Tapia, Wolfgang Schoenfeld, Cristiana Sessa, and for the Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK)

CR1447 (4-hydroxytestosterone, 4-OHT) binds to the androgen receptor and has antiproliferative activity in both ER-positive and ER-negative/AR-positive breast cancer cells in preclinical studies. The objective of this first-in man trial was to evaluate the safety and to determine the dose of CR1447, administered as an ointment, for Phase II. Escalating doses (100, 200, 400 mg) of CR1447 were administered topically on a daily basis to patients with ER-positive/AR-positive/HER2-negative advanced breast cancer pretreated with several lines of therapy. 14 patients have been treated for a total of 42 cycles. Two patients, one at dose level 100 mg and one at dose level 200 mg, showed early tumour progression and were replaced. Related adverse events were all ≤ grade 2 and included fatigue, bone and joint pain, stiffness, dry skin and mouth, nausea, sweating, urinary tract infection, rash, headache and distress. No drug-related dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) were seen. Two patients (17%) achieved stable disease at 3 months. Pharmacokinetic analysis confirmed dose-dependent transdermal uptake of CR1447. 4-OH-androstenedione (4-OHA), a key metabolite of 4-OHT, was undetectable in most of the plasma samples. Urine metabolites of 4-OHT and 4-OHA indicate high exposure of 4-OHT after topical administration. Oestradiol serum concentrations did not increase, confirming preclinical data that CR1447 is not converted to estrogens in vivo. In conclusion, CR1447 administered transdermally as an ointment is well tolerated and appears to have single-agent activity in heavily pretreated ER-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer patients. The recommended phase II dose is 400 mg/day.

Open access

Jia Liu, Lin Zhang, Jing Fu, Qiu Wang, and Guang Wang


Prolactin (PRL) has been demonstrated as a metabolic hormone to regulate energy metabolism recently. The present study aims to investigate the association between PRL and metabolic alterations in different obesity phenotypes.


A total of 451 drug-naive participants were recruited, comprising 351 obese patients and 100 age- and sex-matched healthy participants with normal weight. PRL, anthropometric, and clinical parameters were measured.


In the obesity group, 15.1% (53/351) were categorized as 'metabolically healthy obesity (MHO)'. Besides favorable blood pressure, glucose, and lipids profiles, the MHO group exhibited increased PRL, and lower levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and adipose tissue insulin resistance (adipo-IR) than the metabolically unhealthy obesity (MUHO) group (PRL, HOMA-IR, and adipo-IR: P < 0.01; hsCRP: P < 0.05). The severe MUHO group showed significantly decreased PRL levels than the mild MUHO group (P < 0.05). Multivariate linear regression analysis indicated that fasting plasma glucose (FBG) and adipo-IR were significantly associated with PRL (FBG: β = −0.263, P < 0.05; adipo-IR: β = −0.464, P < 0.01). Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that hsCRP (OR = 0.824) and PRL (OR = 1.211) were independent predictors of MHO (all P < 0.01).


The MHO group had significantly increased circulating PRL levels when compared with the control and MUHO groups, and multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that PRL was independent predictors of MHO. Our findings suggested that increased circulating PRL might be a compensatory response for favoring energy metabolism during obesity.