Central hypothyrodism (CeH) is a hypothyroid state caused by an insufficient stimulation by thyrotropin (TSH) of an otherwise normal thyroid gland. Several advancements, including the recent publication of expert guidelines for CeH diagnosis and management, have been made in recent years thus increasing the clinical awareness on this condition. Here, we reviewed the recent advancements and give expert opinions on critical issues. Indeed, CeH can be the consequence of various disorders affecting either the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus. Recent data enlarged the list of candidate genes for heritable CeH and a genetic origin may be the underlying cause for CeH discovered in pediatric or even adult patients without apparent pituitary lesions. This raises the doubt that the frequency of CeH may be underestimated. CeH is most frequently diagnosed as a consequence of the biochemical assessments in patients with hypothalamic/pituitary lesions. In contrast with primary hypothyroidism, low FT4 with low/normal TSH levels are the biochemical hallmark of CeH, and adequate thyroid hormone replacement leads to the suppression of residual TSH secretion. Thus, CeH often represents a clinical challenge because physicians cannot rely on the use of the ‘reflex TSH strategy’ for screening or therapy monitoring. Nevertheless, in contrast with general assumption, the finding of normal TSH levels may indicate thyroxine under-replacement in CeH patients. The clinical management of CeH is further complicated by the combination with multiple pituitary deficiencies, as the introduction of sex steroids or GH replacements may uncover latent forms of CeH or increase the thyroxine requirements.
The diagnosis and management of central hypothyroidism in 2018
Luca Persani, Biagio Cangiano, and Marco Bonomi
Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and pituitary hypoplasia as recurrent features in Ulnar-Mammary syndrome
Elena Galazzi, Paolo Duminuco, Mirella Moro, Fabiana Guizzardi, Nicoletta Marazzi, Alessandro Sartorio, Sabrina Avignone, Marco Bonomi, Luca Persani, and Maria Teresa Bonati
Ulnar-mammary syndrome (UMS) is characterized by ulnar defects, and nipple or apocrine gland hypoplasia, caused by TBX3 haploinsufficiency. Signs of hypogonadism were repeatedly reported, but the mechanisms remain elusive. We aim to assess the origin of hypogonadism in two families with UMS. UMS was suspected in two unrelated probands referred to an academic center with delayed puberty because of the evident ulnar ray and breast defects in their parents. Clinical, biochemical and genetic investigations proved the existence of congenital normosmic IHH (nIHH) associated with pituitary hypoplasia in the two probands who were heterozygous for novel TBX3 pathogenic variants. The mutations co-segregated with delayed puberty, midline defects (nose, teeth and tongue anomalies) and other variable features of UMS in the two families (absent axillary hairs and nipple hypoplasia, asymmetrical features including unilateral ulnar or renal abnormalities). The combined analysis of these findings and of the previous UMS reports showed delayed puberty and other signs of hypogonadism in 79 and 37% of UMS males, respectively. Proband 1 was followed up to adulthood with persistence of nIHH. In conclusion, UMS should be suspected in patients with delayed puberty and midline defects, including pituitary hypoplasia, in the presence of mild cues for TBX3 mutation, even in the absence of limb malformations. In addition, TBX3 should be included among candidate genes for congenital nIHH.
An update on the long-term outcomes of prenatal dexamethasone treatment in congenital adrenal hyperplasia
Annelies van’t Westeinde, Leif Karlsson, Valeria Messina, Lena Wallensteen, Manuela Brösamle, Giorgio Dal Maso, Alessandro Lazzerini, Jette Kristensen, Diana Kwast, Lea Tschaidse, Matthias K Auer, Hanna F Nowotny, Luca Persani, Nicole Reisch, and Svetlana Lajic
First-trimester prenatal treatment with glucocorticoid (GC) dexamethasone (DEX) in pregnancies at risk for classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is associated with ethical dilemmas. Though effective in reducing virilisation in girls with CAH, it entails exposure to high doses of GC in fetuses that do not benefit from the treatment. The current paper provides an update on the literature on outcomes of prenatal DEX treatment in CAH cases and unaffected subjects. Long-term follow-up research is still needed to determine treatment safety. In addition, advances in early prenatal diagnostics for CAH and sex-typing as well as studies assessing dosing effects of DEX may avoid unnecessary treatment and improve treatment safety.
Outcome of COVID-19 infections in patients with adrenal insufficiency and excess
Hanna F Nowotny, Jillian Bryce, Salma R Ali, Roberta Giordano, Federico Baronio, Irina Chifu, Lea Tschaidse, Martine Cools, Erica LT van den Akker, Henrik Falhammar, Natasha M Appelman-Dijkstra, Luca Persani, Guglielmo Beccuti, Ian L Ross, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Alberto M Pereira, Eystein S Husebye, Stefanie Hahner, S Faisal Ahmed, and Nicole Reisch
Information on clinical outcomes of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) infection in patients with adrenal disorders is scarce.
A collaboration between the European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) Rare Disease Committee and European Reference Network on Rare Endocrine Conditions via the European Registries for Rare Endocrine Conditions allowed the collection of data on 64 cases (57 adrenal insufficiency (AI), 7 Cushing’s syndrome) that had been reported by 12 centres in 8 European countries between January 2020 and December 2021.
Of all 64 patients, 23 were males and 41 females (13 of those children) with a median age of 37 and 51 years. In 45/57 (95%) AI cases, COVID-19 infection was confirmed by testing. Primary insufficiency was present in 45/57 patients; 19 were affected by Addison’s disease, 19 by congenital adrenal hyperplasia and 7 by primary AI (PAI) due to other causes. The most relevant comorbidities were hypertension (12%), obesity (n = 14%) and diabetes mellitus (9%). An increase by a median of 2.0 (IQR 1.4) times the daily replacement dose was reported in 42 (74%) patients. Two patients were administered i.m. injection of 100 mg hydrocortisone, and 11/64 were admitted to the hospital. Two patients had to be transferred to the intensive care unit, one with a fatal outcome. Four patients reported persistent SARS-CoV-2 infection, all others complete remission.
This European multicentre questionnaire is the first to collect data on the outcome of COVID-19 infection in patients with adrenal gland disorders. It suggests good clinical outcomes in case of duly dose adjustments and emphasizes the importance of patient education on sick day rules.
The genetic diagnosis of rare endocrine disorders of sex development and maturation: a survey among Endo-ERN centres
Luca Persani, Martine Cools, Stamatina Ioakim, S Faisal Ahmed, Silvia Andonova, Magdalena Avbelj-Stefanija, Federico Baronio, Jerome Bouligand, Hennie T Bruggenwirth, Justin H Davies, Elfride De Baere, Iveta Dzivite-Krisane, Paula Fernandez-Alvarez, Alexander Gheldof, Claudia Giavoli, Claus H Gravholt, Olaf Hiort, Paul-Martin Holterhus, Anders Juul, Csilla Krausz, Kristina Lagerstedt-Robinson, Ruth McGowan, Uta Neumann, Antonio Novelli, Xavier Peyrassol, Leonidas A Phylactou, Julia Rohayem, Philippe Touraine, Dineke Westra, Valeria Vezzoli, and Raffaella Rossetti
Differences of sex development and maturation (SDM) represent a heterogeneous puzzle of rare conditions with a large genetic component whose management and treatment could be improved by an accurate classification of underlying molecular conditions, and next-generation sequencing (NGS) should represent the most appropriate approach. Therefore, we conducted a survey dedicated to the use and potential outcomes of NGS for SDM disorders diagnosis among the 53 health care providers (HCP) of the European Reference Network for rare endocrine conditions. The response rate was 49% with a total of 26 HCPs from 13 countries. All HCPs, except 1, performed NGS investigations for SDM disorders on 6720 patients, 3764 (56%) with differences of sex development (DSD), including 811 unexplained primary ovarian insufficiency, and 2956 (44%) with congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (CHH). The approaches varied from targeted analysis of custom gene panels (range: 11–490 genes) in 81.5% of cases or whole exome sequencing with the extraction of a virtual panel in the remaining cases. These analyses were performed for diagnostic purposes in 21 HCPs, supported by the National Health Systems in 16 cases. The likelihood of finding a variant ranged between 7 and 60%, mainly depending upon the number of analysed genes or criteria used for reporting, most HCPs also reporting variants of uncertain significance. These data illustrate the status of genetic diagnosis of DSD and CHH across Europe. In most countries, these analyses are performed for diagnostic purposes, yielding highly variable results, thus suggesting the need for harmonization and general improvements of NGS approaches.