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Open access

Laura Potasso, Julie Refardt, Irina Chifu, Martin Fassnacht, Wiebke Kristin Fenske, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Objective: Hyperkalemia has been reported upon different hypertonic saline infusion protocols. Since hypertonic saline test has recently been validated for the differential diagnosis of diabetes insipidus (DI), we aimed to investigate the course of plasma potassium during the test.

Design: We analyzed data of 90 healthy volunteers and 141 patients with polyuria-polydipsia syndrome (PPS) from two prospective studies evaluating the hypertonic saline test. Our primary outcome was the incidence rate of hypertonic saline induced hyperkalemia >5mmol/L.

Methods: Participants received a 250 ml bolus of 3% NaCl solution, followed by 0.15ml/min/kg body weight continuously infused targeting a plasma sodium level of 150mmol/L. Blood samples and clinical data were collected every 30 minutes.

Results: Of the 231 participants, 16% (n=37/231) developed hyperkalemia. The incidence of hyperkalemia was higher in healthy volunteers and in patients with primary polydipsia (25.6% (n=23/90) and 9.9% (n=14/141) respectively), and only occurred in 3.4% (n=2/59) of patients with diabetes insipidus. Hyperkalemia developed mostly at or after 90-minute test duration (81.1%, n= 30/37). Predictors of hyperkalemia (OR (95% CI)) were male sex (2.9 (1.2-7.4), p=0.02), a plasma potassium at baseline >3.9mmol/L (5.2, (1.8-17.3), p=0.004), normonatremia at 30-minute test duration (3.2 (1.2-9.5), p=0.03), and an increase in potassium levels already at 30-minute test duration as compared to baseline (4.5 (1.7-12.3), p=0.003). Hyperkalemia was transient and resolved spontaneously in all cases.

Conclusion: The hypertonic saline test can lead to hyperkalemia, especially in patients with primary polydipsia who experience a longer test duration. Monitoring potassium levels in these patients is recommended.

Open access

Milica Popovic, Fahim Ebrahimi, Sandrine Andrea Urwyler, Marc Yves Donath, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Arginine vasopressin (AVP) was suggested to contribute to cardiovascular risk and type 2 diabetes in patients with metabolic syndrome. The proinflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-1 is able to induce AVP secretion and plays a causal role in cardiovascular mortality and type 2 diabetes. We investigated in two studies whether copeptin levels – the surrogate marker for AVP – are regulated by IL-1-mediated chronic inflammation in patients with metabolic syndrome. Study A was a prospective, interventional, single-arm study (2014–2016). Study B was a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study (2016–2017). n = 73 (Study A) and n = 66 (Study B) adult patients with metabolic syndrome were treated with 100 mg anakinra or placebo (only in study B) twice daily for 1 day (study A) and 28 days (study B). Fasting blood samples were drawn at day 1, 7, and 28 of treatment for measurement of serum copeptin. Patients with chronic low-grade inflammation (C-reactive protein levels ≥2 mg/L) and BMI >35 kg/m2 had higher baseline copeptin levels (7.7 (IQR 4.9–11.9) vs 5.8 (IQR 3.9–9.3) pmol/L, P inflamm = 0.009; 7.8 (IQR 5.4–11.7) vs 4.9 (IQR 3.7–9.8) pmol/L, P BMI = 0.008). Copeptin levels did not change either in the anakinra or in the placebo group and remained stable throughout the treatment (P = 0.44). Subgroup analyses did not reveal effect modifications. Therefore, we conclude that, although IL-1-mediated inflammation is associated with increased circulating copeptin levels, antagonizing IL-1 does not significantly alter copeptin levels in patients with metabolic syndrome.

Open access

Clara Odilia Sailer, Sophia Julia Wiedemann, Konrad Strauss, Ingeborg Schnyder, Wiebke Kristin Fenske, and Mirjam Christ-Crain

Osmotic stimulus or stress results in vasopressin release. Animal and human in vitro studies have shown that inflammatory parameters, such as interleukin-8 (IL-8) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), increase in parallel in the central nervous system and bronchial, corneal or intestinal epithelial cell lines in response to osmotic stimulus. Whether osmotic stimulus directly causes a systemic inflammatory response in humans is unknown. We therefore investigated the influence of osmotic stimulus on circulatory markers of systemic inflammation in healthy volunteers. In this prospective cohort study, 44 healthy volunteers underwent a standardized test protocol with an osmotic stimulus leading into the hyperosmotic/hypernatremic range (serum sodium ≥150 mmol/L) by hypertonic saline infusion. Copeptin – a marker indicating vasopressin activity – serum sodium and osmolality, plasma IL-8 and TNF-α were measured at baseline and directly after osmotic stimulus. Median (range) serum sodium increased from 141 mmol/L (136, 147) to 151 mmol/L (145, 154) (P < 0.01), serum osmolality increased from 295 mmol/L (281, 306) to 315 mmol/L (304, 325) (P < 0.01). Median (range) copeptin increased from 4.3 pg/L (1.1, 21.4) to 28.8 pg/L (19.9, 43.4) (P < 0.01). Median (range) IL-8 levels showed a trend to decrease from 0.79 pg/mL (0.37, 1.6) to 0.7 pg/mL (0.4, 1.9) (P < 0.09) and TNF-α levels decreased from 0.53 pg/mL (0.11, 1.1) to 0.45 pg/mL (0.12, 0.97) (P < 0.036). Contrary to data obtained in vitro, circulating proinflammatory cytokines tend to or decrease in human plasma after osmotic stimulus. In this study, osmotic stimulus does not increase circulating markers of systemic inflammation.

Open access

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


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.


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.


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.


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 (, NCT02672592).

Open access

Bettina Winzeler, Michelle Steinmetz, Julie Refardt, Nicole Cesana-Nigro, Milica Popovic, Wiebke Fenske, and Mirjam Christ-Crain


The syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis (SIAD) is a common condition in hospitalized patients. It is crucial to establish the cause of SIAD, especially in order to exclude underlying malignancy. As malignant SIAD may be due to a paraneoplastic synthesis of arginine vasopressin, we hypothesized that its stable surrogate marker copeptin can be used as a diagnostic tool to differentiate between malignant and non-malignant SIAD.


Prospective observational study. We analyzed data from 146 SIAD patients of two different cohorts from Switzerland and Germany. Patients were included while presenting at the emergency department and underwent a standardized diagnostic assessment including the measurement of copeptin levels.


Thirty-nine patients (median age: 63 years, 51% female) were diagnosed with cancer-related SIAD and 107 (median age: 73 years, 68% female) with non-malignant SIAD. Serum sodium levels were higher in cancer-related versus non-malignant SIAD: median (IQR) 124 mmol/l (120; 127) versus 120 mmol/l (117; 123) (P<0.001). Median (IQR) copeptin levels of patients with cancer-related SIAD were 11.1 pmol/l (5.2; 37.1) and 10.5 pmol/l (5.2; 25.2) with non-malignant SIAD (P = 0.38). Among different cancer entities, patients suffering from small-cell lung cancer showed the highest copeptin values, but overall no significant difference in copeptin levels between cancer types was observed (P = 0.46).


Copeptin levels are similar in cancer-related and non-malignant SIAD. Therefore, Copeptin does not seem to be suitable as a marker of malignant disease in SIAD.

Open access

Julie Refardt, Clara Odilia Sailer, Bettina Winzeler, Matthias Johannes Betz, Irina Chifu, Ingeborg Schnyder, Martin Fassnacht, Wiebke Fenske, Mirjam Christ-Crain, and for the CODDI-Investigators

The pathomechanism of primary polydipsia is poorly understood. Recent animal data reported a connection between fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF-21) and elevated fluid intake independently of hormonal control by the hormone arginine-vasopressin (AVP) and osmotic stimulation. We therefore compared circulating FGF-21 levels in patients with primary polydipsia to patients with AVP deficiency (central diabetes insipidus) and healthy volunteers. In this prospective cohort study, we analyzed FGF-21 levels of 20 patients with primary polydipsia, 20 patients with central diabetes insipidus and 20 healthy volunteers before and after stimulation with hypertonic saline infusion targeting a plasma sodium level ≥150 mmol/L. The primary outcome was the difference in FGF-21 levels between the three groups. Baseline characteristics were similar between the groups except for patients with central diabetes insipidus being heavier. There was no difference in baseline FGF-21 levels between patients with primary polydipsia and healthy volunteers (122 pg/mL (52,277) vs 193 pg/mL (48,301), but higher levels in patients with central diabetes insipidus were observed (306 pg/mL (114,484); P = 0.037). However, this was not confirmed in a multivariate linear regression analysis after adjusting for age, sex, BMI and smoking status. Osmotic stimulation did not affect FGF-21 levels in either group (difference to baseline: primary polydipsia −23 pg/mL (−43, 22); central diabetes insipidus 17 pg/mL (−76, 88); healthy volunteers −6 pg/mL (−68, 22); P = 0.45). To conclude, FGF-21 levels are not increased in patients with primary polydipsia as compared to central diabetes insipidus or healthy volunteers. FGF-21 therefore does not seem to be causal of elevated fluid intake in these patients.