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Open access

Aditya Dutta, Ganesh Jevalikar, Rutuja Sharma, Khalid J Farooqui, Shama Mahendru, Arun Dewan, Sandeep Bhudiraja, and Ambrish Mithal

Aim

To study the prevalence of thyroid dysfunction and its association with disease severity in hospitalized patients of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19).

Methods

In this retrospective cohort study, thyroid function tests (TFT) of 236 hospitalized patients of COVID-19 along with demographic, comorbid, clinical, biochemical and disease severity records were analysed. Patients were divided into previous euthyroid or hypothyroid status to observe the effect of prior hypothyroidism on the severity of COVID-19.

Results

TFT abnormalities were common. Low free T3 (FT3), high thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and low TSH were seen in 56 (23.7%), 15 (6.4%) and 9 (3.8%) patients, respectively. The median levels of TSH (2.06 vs 1.26 mIU/mL, P = 0.001) and FT3 (2.94 vs 2.47 pg/mL, P < 0.001) were significantly lower in severe disease. Previous hypothyroid status (n = 43) was associated with older age, higher frequency of comorbidities, higher FT4 and lower FT3. TFT did not correlate with markers of inflammation (except lactate dehydrogenase); however, FT3 and TSH negatively correlated with outcome severity score and duration of hospital stay. Cox regression analysis showed that low FT3 was associated with severe COVID-19 (P = 0.032, HR 0.302; CI 0.101–0.904), irrespective of prior hypothyroidism.

Conclusions

Functional thyroid abnormalities (low FT3 and low TSH) are frequently seen in hospitalized patients of COVID-19. Although these abnormalities did not correlate with markers of inflammation, this study shows that low FT3 at admission independently predicts the severity of COVID-19.

Open access

Wenqi Yang, Ling Liu, Yuan Wei, Chunlu Fang, Fu Zhou, Jinbao Chen, Qinghua Han, Meifang Huang, Xuan Tan, Qiuyue Liu, Qiang Pan, Lu Zhang, Xiaojuan Lei, and Liangming Li

Objective

The protective effects of exercise against glucose dysmetabolism have been generally reported. However, the mechanism by which exercise improves glucose homeostasis remains poorly understood. The FGF21–adiponectin axis participates in the regulation of glucose metabolism. Elevated levels of FGF21 and decreased levels of adiponectin in obesity indicate FGF21–adiponectin axis dysfunction. Hence, we investigated whether exercise could improve the FGF21–adiponectin axis impairment and ameliorate disturbed glucose metabolism in diet-induced obese mice.

Methods

Eight-week-old C57BL/6J mice were randomly assigned to three groups: low-fat diet control group, high-fat diet group and high-fat diet plus exercise group. Glucose metabolic parameters, the ability of FGF21 to induce adiponectin, FGF21 receptors and co-receptor levels and adipose tissue inflammation were evaluated after 12 weeks of intervention.

Results

Exercise training led to reduced levels of fasting blood glucose and insulin, improved glucose tolerance and better insulin sensitivity in high-fat diet-induced obese mice. Although serum FGF21 levels were not significantly changed, both total and high-molecular-weight adiponectin concentrations were markedly enhanced by exercise. Importantly, exercise protected against high-fat diet-induced impaired ability of FGF21 to stimulate adiponectin secretion. FGF21 co-receptor, β-klotho, as well as receptors, FGFR1 and FGFR2, were upregulated by exercise. We also found that exercise inhibited adipose tissue inflammation, which may contribute to the improvement in the FGF21–adiponectin axis impairment.

Conclusions

Our data indicate exercise protects against high-fat diet-induced FGF21–adiponectin axis impairment, and may thereby exert beneficial effects on glucose metabolism.

Open access

Simon Schimmack, Yongchao Yang, Klaus Felix, Markus Herbst, Yixiong Li, Miriam Schenk, Frank Bergmann, Thilo Hackert, and Oliver Strobel

Objective

Elevated pre-operative C-reactive protein (CRP) serum values have been reported to be associated with poor overall survival for patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (pNEN). The aim of this study was to identify mechanisms linking CRP to poor prognosis in pNEN.

Methods

The malignant properties of pNENs were investigated using the human pNEN cell-lines BON1 and QGP1 exposed to CRP or IL-6. Analyses were performed by ELISA, Western blot, flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry as well as invasion and proliferation assays. To compare cytokine profiles and CRP levels, 76 serum samples of pNEN patients were analyzed using Luminex technology. In parallel, the expression of CRP and growth signaling pathway proteins was assessed on cell lines and paraffin-embedded primary pNEN.

Results

In BON1 and QGP1 cells, inflammation (exposure to IL-6) significantly upregulated CRP expression and secretion as well as migratory properties. CRP stimulation of BON1 cells increased IL-6 secretion and invasion. This was accompanied by activation/phosphorylation of the ERK, AKT and/or STAT3 pathways. Although known CRP receptors – CD16, CD32 and CD64 – were not detected on BON1 cells, CRP uptake of pNEN cells was shown after CRP exposure. In patients, increased pre-operative CRP levels (≥5 mg/L) were associated with significantly higher serum levels of IL-6 and G-CSF, as well as with an increased CRP expression and ERK/AKT/STAT3 phosphorylation in pNEN tissue.

Conclusion

The malignant properties of pNEN cells can be stimulated by CRP and IL-6 promoting ERK/AKT/STAT pathways activation as well as invasion, thus linking systemic inflammation and poor prognosis.

Open access

Fahim Ebrahimi, Sandrine A Urwyler, Philipp Schuetz, Beat Mueller, Luca Bernasconi, Peter Neyer, Marc Y Donath, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Background

Anti-inflammatory treatment with interleukin-1 (IL-1) antagonism decreases both cortisol and adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) levels in individuals with obesity in short term. However, it remains unknown whether these effects persist upon prolonged treatment.

Methods

In this double-blind, parallel-group trial involving patients with features of the metabolic syndrome, 33 patients were randomly assigned to receive 100 mg of anakinra (recombinant human IL-1 receptor antagonist) subcutaneously twice-daily and 34 patients to receive placebo for 4 weeks. For this analysis, change in cortisol and ACTH levels from baseline to 4 weeks were predefined end points of the trial.

Results

The mean age was 54 years, baseline cortisol levels were 314 nmol/L (IQR 241–385) and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were 3.4 mg/L (IQR 1.7–4.8). Treatment with anakinra led to a significant decrease in cortisol levels at day 1 when compared to placebo with an adjusted between-group difference of 28 nmol/L (95% CI, −7 to −43; P = 0.03). After 4 weeks, the cortisol-lowering effect of anakinra was attenuated and overall was statistically not significant (P = 0.72). Injection-site reactions occurred in 21 patients receiving anakinra and were associated with higher CRP and cortisol levels.

Conclusions

IL-1 antagonism decreases cortisol levels in male patients with obesity and chronic low-grade inflammation on the short term. After prolonged treatment, this effect is attenuated, probably due to injection-site reactions (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02672592).

Open access

Angelo Maria Patti, Kalliopi Pafili, Nikolaos Papanas, and Manfredi Rizzo

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can trigger gestational diabetes (GDM), which is constantly increasing. Its main characteristic is pronounced insulin resistance, but it appears to be a multifactorial process involving several metabolic factors; taken together, the latter leads to silent or clinically evident cardiovascular (CV) events. Insulin resistance and central adiposity are of crucial importance in the development of metabolic syndrome, and they appear to correlate with CV risk factors, including hypertension and atherogenic dyslipidaemia. Hypertensive disease of pregnancy (HDP) is more likely to be an accompanying co-morbidity in pregnancies complicated with GDM. There is still inconsistent evidence as to whether or not co-existent GDM and HDP have a synergistic effects on postpartum risk of cardiometabolic disease; however, this synergism is becoming more accepted since both these conditions may promote endothelial inflammation and early atherosclerosis. Regardless of the presence or absence of the synergism between GDM and HDP, these conditions need to be dealt early enough, in order to reduce CV morbidity and to improve health outcomes for both women and their offspring.

Open access

Ling Zhou, Ruixue Zhang, Shuangyan Yang, Yaguang Zhang, and Dandan Shi

Background:

Our previous study revealed that astragaloside IV (AS-IV) effectively improved gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) by reducing hepatic gluconeogenesis. Due to the importance of placental oxidative stress, we further explored the protective role of AS-IV on placental oxidative stress in GDM.

Methods:

First, non-pregnant mice were orally administrated with AS-IV to evaluate its safety and effect. Then GDM mice were orally administered with AS-IV for 20 days and its effect on the symptoms of GDM, placental oxidative stress, secretions of inflammatory cytokines, as well as toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)/NF-κB signaling pathway, were evaluated.

Results:

AS-IV had no adverse effect on non-pregnant mice. On the other hand, AS-IV significantly attenuated the GDM-induced hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, placental oxidative stress, productions of inflammatory cytokines and the activation of TLR4/NF-κB pathway.

Conclusion:

AS-IV effectively protected against GDM by alleviating placental oxidative stress and inflammation, in which TLR4/NF-κB might be involved.

Open access

Elizabeth Yan Zhang and Bao-Ting Zhu

The endogenous estrogens are important modulators of the immune system and its functions. However, their effects are rather complex and many aspects have not been studied. In this study, we used the 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene (DNCB)-induced contact dermatitis as a disease model and investigated the effect of estriol (E3), along with two other estrogens, 17β-estradiol and estrone, on the pathogenesis of contact hypersensitivity. A series of parameters, such as ear swelling, skin inflammation, antigen-specific immunoglobulins, and lymphocyte compositions in peripheral lymphoid organs, were evaluated in mice following development of contact dermatitis. We found that administration of all three estrogens elicited strong inhibition of DNCB-induced dermatitis, while E3 exerted the strongest suppressive effect. Administration of E3 alleviated dermatitis, and this effect was accompanied by decreases in serum DNCB-specific immunoglobulins, such as IgA, IgG1, IgG2a, and IgG2b. Besides, treatment with E3 reduced B cell population, especially IgG-producing cells in the peripheral lymphoid organs following the induction of dermatitis. These observations consistently suggest that the antibody (Ab)-mediated humoral immune reactions play a critical role in the pathogenesis of DNCB-induced contact dermatitis. The results from this study demonstrate, for the first time, that estrogen administration has a strong suppressive effect on the pathogenesis of contact dermatitis. These findings offer important insights concerning the pathogenic role of antigen-specific Abs in contact dermatitis and the treatment of chemical-induced, Ab-mediated skin hypersensitivity reactions in humans.

Open access

Tatsuya Kondo, Nobukazu Miyakawa, Sayaka Kitano, Takuro Watanabe, Rieko Goto, Mary Ann Suico, Miki Sato, Yuki Takaki, Masaji Sakaguchi, Motoyuki Igata, Junji Kawashima, Hiroyuki Motoshima, Takeshi Matsumura, Hirofumi Kai, and Eiichi Araki

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is often accompanied by metabolic disorders such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Heat shock response (HSR) is one of the most important homeostatic abilities but is deteriorated by chronic metabolic insults. Heat shock (HS) with an appropriate mild electrical stimulation (MES) activates HSR and improves metabolic abnormalities including insulin resistance, hyperglycemia and inflammation in metabolic disorders. To analyze the effects of HS + MES treatment on NAFLD biomarkers, three cohorts including healthy men (two times/week, n = 10), patients with metabolic syndrome (four times/week, n = 40), and patients with T2DM (n = 100; four times/week (n = 40) and two, four, seven times/week (n = 20 each)) treated with HS + MES were retrospectively analyzed. The healthy subjects showed no significant alterations in NAFLD biomarkers after the treatment. In patients with metabolic syndrome, many of the NAFLD steatosis markers, including fatty liver index, NAFLD-liver fat score, liver/spleen ratio and hepatic steatosis index and NAFLD fibrosis marker, aspartate aminotransferase/alanine aminotransferase (AST/ALT) ratio, were improved upon the treatment. In patients with T2DM, all investigated NAFLD steatosis markers were improved and NAFLD fibrosis markers such as the AST/ALT ratio, fibrosis-4 index and NAFLD-fibrosis score were improved upon the treatment. Thus, HS + MES, a physical intervention, may become a novel treatment strategy for NAFLD as well as metabolic disorders.

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

Renea A Taylor, Jennifer Lo, Natasha Ascui, and Matthew J Watt

The global epidemic of obesity is closely linked to the development of serious co-morbidities, including many forms of cancer. Epidemiological evidence consistently shows that obesity is associated with a similar or mildly increased incidence of prostate cancer but, more prominently, an increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer and prostate cancer-specific mortality. Studies in mice demonstrate that obesity induced by high-fat feeding increases prostate cancer progression; however, the mechanisms underpinning this relationship remain incompletely understood. Adipose tissue expansion in obesity leads to local tissue dysfunction and is associated with low-grade inflammation, alterations in endocrine function and changes in lipolysis that result in increased delivery of fatty acids to tissues of the body. The human prostate gland is covered anteriorly by the prominent peri-prostatic adipose tissue and laterally by smaller adipose tissue depots that lie directly adjacent to the prostatic surface. We discuss how the close association between dysfunctional adipose tissue and prostate epithelial cells might result in bi-directional communication to cause increased prostate cancer aggressiveness and progression. However, the literature indicates that several ‘mainstream’ hypotheses regarding obesity-related drivers of prostate cancer progression are not yet supported by a solid evidence base and, in particular, are not supported by experiments using human tissue. Understanding the links between obesity and prostate cancer will have major implications for the health policy for men with prostate cancer and the development of new therapeutic or preventative strategies.