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Open access

Kosmas Daskalakis, Marina Tsoli, Anna Angelousi, Evanthia Kassi, Krystallenia I Alexandraki, Denise Kolomodi, Gregory Kaltsas and Anna Koumarianou

Comparisons between everolimus and sunitinib regarding their efficacy and safety in neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) are scarce. We retrospectively analysed the clinicopathological characteristics and outcomes in 92 patients with well-differentiated (WD) NEN of different origin (57 pancreatic NENs (PanNENs)), treated with molecular targeted therapy (MTT) with everolimus or sunitinib, first- (73:19) or second-line (sequential; 12:22) for progressive disease. Disease control rates (DCR: partial response or stable disease) at first-line were higher in all patients treated with everolimus than sunitinib (64/73 vs 12/19, P = 0.012). In PanNENs, DCR at first-line everolimus was 36/42 versus 9/15 with sunitinib (P = 0.062). Progression-free survival (PFS) at first-line everolimus was longer than sunitinib (31 months (95% CI: 23.1–38.9) vs 9 months (95% CI: 0–18.5); log-rank P < 0.0001) in the whole cohort and the subset of PanNENs (log-rank P < 0.0001). Median PFS at second-line MTT was 12 months with everolimus (95% CI: 4.1–19.9) vs 13 months with sunitinib (95% CI: 9.3–16.7; log-rank P = 0.951). Treatment with sunitinib (HR: 3.47; 95% CI: 1.5–8.3; P value: 0.005), KI67 >20% (HR: 6.38; 95% CI: 1.3–31.3; P = 0.022) and prior chemotherapy (HR: 2.71; 95% CI: 1.2–6.3; P = 0.021) were negative predictors for PFS at first line in multivariable and also confirmed at multi-state modelling analyses. Side effect (SE) analysis indicated events of serious toxicities (Grades 3 and 4: n = 13/85 for everolimus and n = 4/41 for sunitinib). Discontinuation rate due to SEs was 20/85 for everolimus versus 4/41 for sunitinib (P = 0.065). No additive toxicity of second-line MTT was confirmed. Based on these findings, and until reliable predictors of response become available, everolimus may be preferable to sunitinib when initiating MTT in progressive NENs.

Open access

Vito Francic, Martin Keppel, Verena Schwetz, Christian Trummer, Marlene Pandis, Valentin Borzan, Martin R Grübler, Nicolas D Verheyen, Marcus E Kleber, Graciela Delgado, Angela P Moissl, Benjamin Dieplinger, Winfried März, Andreas Tomaschitz, Stefan Pilz and Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch

Objective

Cardiovascular disease manifestation and several associated surrogate markers, such as vitamin D, have shown substantial seasonal variation. A promising cardiovascular biomarker, soluble ST2 (sST2), has not been investigated in this regard – we therefore determined if systemic levels of sST2 are affected by seasonality and/or vitamin D in order to investigate their clinical interrelation and usability.

Design

sST2 levels were measured in two cohorts involving hypertensive patients at cardiovascular risk, the Styrian Vitamin D Hypertension Trial (study A; RCT design, 8 weeks 2800 IU cholecalciferol daily) and the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health Study (LURIC; study B; cross-sectional design).

Methods

The effects of a vitamin D intervention on sST2 levels were determined in study A using ANCOVA, while seasonality of sST2 levels was determined in study B using ANOVA.

Results

The concentrations of sST2 remained unchanged by a vitamin D intervention in study A, with a mean treatment effect (95% confidence interval) of 0.1 (−0.6 to 0.8) ng/mL; P = 0.761), despite a rise in 25(OH)D (11.3 (9.2–13.5) ng/mL; P < 0.001) compared to placebo. In study B, seasonal variations were present in 25(OH)D levels in men and women with or without heart failure (P < 0.001 for all subgroups), while sST2 levels remained unaffected by the seasons in all subgroups.

Conclusions

Our study provides the first evidence that systemic sST2 levels are not interrelated with vitamin D levels or influenced by the seasons in subjects at cardiovascular risk.

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

Giulia Bresciani, Angeliki Ditsiou, Chiara Cilibrasi, Viviana Vella, Federico Rea, Marco Schiavon, Narciso Giorgio Cavallesco, Georgios Giamas, Maria Chiara Zatelli and Teresa Gagliano

Broncho-pulmonary neuroendocrine neoplasms (BP-NENs) are neoplasms orphan of an efficient therapy. Available medical treatments derived from clinical trials are not specific for the management of this malignancy. Sunitinib is a multi-receptor tyrosine-kinases (RTKs) inhibitor that has already shown its efficacy in NENs, but there are no available data about its action in BP-NENs. Therefore, our aim was to understand the effects of RTKs inhibition promoted by sunitinib in order to evaluate new putative targets useful in malignancy treatment. Since our results underlined a role for EGFR and IGF1R in modulating sunitinib antiproliferative action, we investigated the effects of erlotinib, an EGFR inhibitor, and linsitinib, an IGF1R inhibitor, in order to understand their function in regulating cells behaviour. Cell viability and caspase activation were evaluated on two immortalised human BP-NEN cell lines and primary cultures. Our results showed that after treatment with sunitinib and/or IGF1, EGF and VEGF, the antiproliferative effect of sunitinib was counteracted by EGF and IGF1 but not by VEGF. Therefore, we evaluated with AlphaScreen technology the phosphorylated EGFR and IGF1R levels in primary cultures treated with sunitinib and/or EGF and IGF1. Results showed a decrease of p-IGF1R after treatment with sunitinib and an increase after co-treatment with IGF1. Then, we assessed cell viability and caspase activation on BP-NEN cell lines after treatment with linsitinib and/or erlotinib. Results demonstrate that these two agents have a stronger antiproliferative effect compared to sunitinib. In conclusion, our results suggest that IGF1R and EGF1R could represent putative molecular targets in BP-NENs treatment.

Open access

Li Jing and Wang Chengji

Metabolomics was used to explore the effect of exercise intervention on type 2 diabetes. The rat model of type 2 diabetes was induced by an injection of streptozocin (30 mg/kg), after fed with 8-week high-fat diet. The rats were divided into three groups: the control group, the diabetic model group (DM) and the diabetes + exercise group (DME). After exercise for 10 weeks, blood samples were collected to test biomedical indexes, and 24-h urine samples were collected for the metabolomics experiment. In the DME group, fasting blood glucose (FBG), both total cholesterol (TC) and total plasma triglycerides (TG), were decreased significantly, compared with those in the DM group. Based on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS), a urinary metabolomics method was used to study the mechanism of exercise intervention on diabetes mellitus. Based on the principal component analysis (PCA), it was found that the DM group and control group were separated into two different clusters. The DME group was located between the DM group and the control group, closer to the control group. Twelve significantly changed metabolites of diabetes mellitus were detected and identified, including glycolate, 4-methyl phenol, benzoic acid, 1H-indole, arabinitol, threitol, ribonic acid, malic acid, 2,3-dihydroxy-butanoic, aminomalonic acid, l-ascorbic acid and 3-hydroxy hexanedioic acid. After exercise, seven metabolites were significantly changed, compared with the control group, the relative contents of benzoic acid, aminomalonic acid, tetrabutyl alcohol and ribonucleic acid in the diabetic exercise group decreased significantly. The relative contents of 2,3-dihydroxybutyric acid, l-ascorbic acid and 3-hydroxy adipic acid increased significantly. l-ascorbic acid and aminomalonic acid which related with the oxidative stress were significantly regulated to normal. The results showed that exercise could display anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic effects. The exercise had antioxidation function in preventing the occurrence of complications with diabetes mellitus to some extent. The work illustrates that the metabolomics method is a useful tool to study the mechanism of exercise treatment.

Open access

Andrea V Haas, Paul N Hopkins, Nancy J Brown, Luminita H Pojoga, Jonathan S Williams, Gail K Adler and Gordon H Williams

There are conflicting data on whether variations of physiologic cortisol levels associated with cardiovascular risk. We hypothesize that prior discordant findings are related to problems associated with varying sample size, techniques for assessing cardiovascular risk and failure to adequately account for environmental factors. To address these issues, we utilized a large sample size, selected the Framingham risk score to compute cardiovascular risk and performed the study in a highly controlled setting. We had two main objectives: determine whether higher, yet physiologic, cortisol levels associated with increased cardiovascular risk and determine whether caveolin-1 (rs926198) risk allele carriers associated with increased cardiovascular risk. This was a cross-sectional study of 574 non-diabetic individuals who completed a common protocol. Data collection included fasting blood samples, blood pressure measurements and a 24-h urine-free cortisol collection. Five hundred seventeen of these participants also completed caveolin-1 genotyping. Subjects were classified as belonging to either the low-mode or high-mode urine-free cortisol groups, based on the bimodal distribution of urine-free cortisol. In multivariate analysis, Framingham risk score was statistically higher in the high-mode cortisol group (10.22 (mean) ± 0.43 (s.e.m.)) compared to the low-mode cortisol group (7.73 ± 0.34), P < 0.001. Framingham risk score was also statistically higher in the caveolin-1 risk allele carriers (8.91 ± 0.37) compared to caveolin-1 non-risk allele carriers (7.59 ± 0.48), P = 0.034. Overall, the estimated effect on Framingham risk score of carrying the caveolin-1 risk allele was 1.33 ± 0.61, P = 0.029. Both urinary cortisol and caveolin-1 risk allele status are independent predictors of Framingham risk score.

Open access

Shuang Ye, Yuanyuan Xu, Jiehao Li, Shuhui Zheng, Peng Sun and Tinghuai Wang

The role of G protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 (GPER) signaling, including promotion of Ezrin phosphorylation (which could be activated by estrogen), has not yet been clearly identified in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). This study aimed to evaluate the prognostic value of GPER and Ezrin in TNBC patients. Clinicopathologic features including age, menopausal status, tumor size, nuclear grade, lymph node metastasis, AJCC TNM stage, and ER, PR and HER-2 expression were evaluated from 249 TNBC cases. Immunohistochemical staining of GPER and Ezrin was performed on TNBC pathological sections. Kaplan–Meier analyses, as well as logistic regressive and Cox regression model tests were applied to evaluate the prognostic significance between different subgroups. Compared to the GPER-low group, the GPER-high group exhibited higher TNM staging (P = 0.021), more death (P < 0.001), relapse (P < 0.001) and distant events (P < 0.001). Kaplan–Meier analysis showed that GPER-high patients had a decreased OS (P < 0.001), PFS (P < 0.001), LRFS (P < 0.001) and DDFS (P < 0.001) than GPER-low patients. However, these differences in prognosis were not statistically significant in post-menopausal patients (OS, P = 0.8617; PFS, P = 0.1905; LRFS, P = 0.4378; DDFS, P = 0.2538). There was a significant positive correlation between GPER and Ezrin expression level (R = 0.508, P < 0.001) and the effect of Ezrin on survival prognosis corresponded with GPER. Moreover, a multivariable analysis confirmed that GPER and Ezrin level were both significantly associated with poor DDFS (HR: 0.346, 95% CI 0.182–0.658, P = 0.001; HR: 0.320, 95% CI 0.162–0.631, P = 0.001). Thus, overexpression of GPER and Ezrin may contribute to aggressive behavior and indicate unfavorable prognosis in TNBC; this may correspond to an individual’s estrogen levels.

Open access

Shilpa Lingaiah, Laure Morin-Papunen, Terhi Piltonen, Inger Sundström-Poromaa, Elisabet Stener-Victorin and Juha S Tapanainen

Objective

Serum levels of retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4), an adipokine thought to affect systemic insulin sensitivity, were compared between women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and non-PCOS controls to evaluate the association of RBP4 with clinical, hormonal and metabolic parameters of PCOS.

Subjects and methods

Serum RBP4 levels were analysed in 278 women with PCOS (age range 18–57 years) and 191 non-PCOS controls (age 20–53 years) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Results

Serum levels of RBP4 were increased in women with PCOS compared with control women in the whole population (45.1 ± 24.0 (s.d.) vs 33.5 ± 18.3 mg/L, P < 0.001). Age-stratified analysis showed that serum RBP4 levels were increased in women with PCOS aged ≤30 years compared with controls (47.7 ± 23.5 vs 27.1 ± 10.4 mg/L, P < 0.001), whereas no significant differences were seen in the other age groups. No significant correlations of RBP4 were seen with either steroids or indices of insulin resistance.

Conclusions

Although serum RBP4 levels were increased in younger women with PCOS compared with age-matched non-PCOS controls, RBP4 does not seem to be a good marker of insulin resistance or other metabolic derangements in women with PCOS.

Open access

M P Schuijt, C G J Sweep, R van der Steen, A J Olthaar, N M M L Stikkelbroeck, H A Ross and A E van Herwaarden

Objective

Increased maternal testosterone concentration during pregnancy may affect the fetus. Therefore it is clinically relevant to have a quick and reliable method to determine free testosterone levels. Current calculators for free testosterone are suspected to perform poorly during pregnancy due to suggested competition between high levels of estradiol and free (bio-active) testosterone for sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) binding. Therefore, it is claimed that reliable calculation of free testosterone concentration is not possible. However, recent evidence on SHBG-binding sites questions the estradiol effect on the testosterone-SHBG binding during pregnancy. In this study, we investigated whether the free testosterone concentration can be calculated in pregnant women.

Design and methods

Free testosterone was measured with a specially developed equilibrium dialysis method combined with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Free testosterone was also calculated with the formulas of Vermeulen et al. and Ross et al.

Results

Total and free testosterone measured in healthy men and women were in good agreement with earlier reports. In pregnant women, total testosterone values were higher than in non-pregnant women, whereas free testosterone values were comparable. Calculated free testosterone levels in pregnant women were highly correlated, but marginally higher, compared to measured free testosterone levels.

Conclusions

We developed an equilibrium dialysis–LC-MS/MS method for the measurement of free testosterone in the low range of pregnant and non-pregnant women. Although during pregnancy total testosterone is increased, this is not the case for free testosterone. The free testosterone formulas perform well in pregnant women.

Open access

Satoshi Higuchi, Hideki Ota, Takuya Ueda, Yuta Tezuka, Kei Omata, Yoshikiyo Ono, Ryo Morimoto, Masataka Kudo, Fumitoshi Satoh and Kei Takase

Objective

Regional differences in cardiac magnetic resonance, which can reveal catecholamine-induced myocardial injury in patients with pheochromocytoma, have not yet been assessed using 3T magnetic resonance imaging. We evaluated these differences using myocardial T1-mapping and strain analysis.

Design and Methods

We retrospectively reviewed 16 patients newly diagnosed with catecholamine-producing tumors (CPT group) and 16 patients with essential hypertension (EH group), who underwent cardiac magnetic resonance imaging between May 2016 and March 2018. We acquired 3T magnetic resonance cine and native T1-mapping images and performed feature-tracking-based strain analysis in the former.

Results

Global cardiac function, morphology, global strain and peak strain rate were similar, but end-diastolic wall thickness differed between groups (CPT vs EH: 10.5 ± 1.7 vs 12.6 ± 2.8 mm; P < 0.05). Basal, but not apical, circumferential strain was significantly higher in the CPT than the EH group (19.4 ± 3.2 vs 16.8 ± 3.6 %; P < 0.05). Native T1 values were significantly higher in CPT than in EH patients, in both the basal septum (1307 ± 48 vs 1241 ± 45 ms; P < 0.01) and the apical septum (1377 ± 59 vs 1265 ± 58 ms; P < 0.01) mid-walls. In the CPT, but not in the EH group, native T1 values in the apical wall were significantly higher than those in the basal wall (P < 0.01).

Conclusion

3T magnetic resonance-based T1-mapping can sensitively detect subclinical catecholamine-induced myocardial injury; the influence of catecholamines may be greater in the apical than in the basal wall.