We report the case of 19-year-old woman with cyclical Cushing's disease, in whom plasma adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) was secreted periodically after her first pregnancy. Since the 33rd week of pregnancy, hypertension and proteinuria became clinically remarkable. She gave normal birth at 36th week of pregnancy; however she continued to gain body weight even after delivery and developed typical Cushingoid features. Her ACTH secretion lacked normal daily fluctuation but exhibited periodic change during 1-year observation, showing 119 pg/ml, 34.6 pg/ml and 115 pg/ml at the 4th, 7th and 13th months after delivery. Plasma ACTH levels were increased by corticotropin releasing hormone and metyrapone, while low-dose dexamethasone suppressed cortisol secretion. Gel filtration analysis of the patient's plasma detected big ACTH molecules being eluted with a peak of authentic 1–39 ACTH. Cranial magnetic resonance imaging revealed a 1-cm pituitary mass in right cavernous sinus. The pituitary tumor was removed by transsphenoidal surgery at 13th month after delivery and was pathologically compatible with ACTH-producing pituitary adenoma by immunohistochemistry. This case includes clinically rare subsets of Cushing's syndrome showing periodic ACTH secretion and aberrant ACTH molecules.
We report a patient with Graves' disease in whom thyroid function was changed from initial hyperthyroidism to transient hypothyroidism and back to hyperthyroidism during interferon (IFN) therapy. A 43-year-old man was admitted to our hospital to receive IFN treatment for chronic active hepatitis (type C) in June 1998. His thyroid function was normal and testing for thyroid gland antibodies (TSH binding inhibitor immunoglobulins; TBII, anti-thyroglobulin antibodies; TgAb and anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies; TPOAb) was negative before IFN therapy. The patient had neither history of thyroid disease nor any particular family history. He developed hyperthyroidism four months after its initiation of IFN therapy. When he was hyperthyroid, TBII, the activity of thyroid-stimulating antibodies (TSAb) and thyroid stimulation-blocking antibodies (TSBAb) were 40.2% (normal range, –15 ~ +15.0%), 1201% (normal range, ≤180%) and 52.0% (normal range, ≤45.6%), respectively. Thyroid 99mTc(technetium)-uptake ratio (Tc-UTR) was 1.07% (normal range, 0.5–3.0%). He transiently developed hypothyroidism in December 1998 and recurrent hyperthyroidism in February 1999. When he was hypothyroid, TBII, TSAb and TSBAb were 74.3%, 769% and 95.9%, respectively. To investigate the mechanism of his fluctuating thyroid status, we serially assessed the serum levels of cytokines (TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-4) and the soluble form of ICAM-1 (sICAM-1) as well as the activities of two types of TSH receptor antibodies (TRAb), TSAb and TSBAb, before and after IFN therapy. There were no characteristic changes of cytokines or sICAM-1 during the follow-up period. The transient hypothyroid state may be explained by two possible mechanisms: one may be due to the shift in the balance between the stimulating and blocking types of TRAb, and the other may be due to the complication of destructive thyroiditis that developed during IFN therapy.
We hypothesized that the administration of rosiglitazone, an insulin-sensitizing agent of the thiazolidinedione class, would improve the ovulatory dysfunction, hirsutism, hyperandrogenemia, and hyperinsulinemia of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients. Forty women with PCOS and impaired glucose tolerance test (IGT) were randomly assigned to the 8-month treatment with rosiglitazone at either 2 mg/day or 4 mg/day. We compared changes in ovulatory function, hirsutism, hormonal levels (total and free testosterone, estradiol, estrone, androstenedione, LH and FSH), and measures of glycemic parameters (fasting and post-challenge levels of glucose and insulin, HOMA-IR, hemoglobin A1c), between the study groups. The patients' baseline characteristics were similar across all treatment arms. Fifteen of 20 women in the 2 mg group and 19 of 20 women in the 4 mg group achieved normal glucose tolerance; 14 of 20 women in the 2 mg group and 17 of 20 women in the 4 mg group achieved ovulatory menses at the end of the study period. The decreases of free testosterone levels were better in the 4 mg group than the 2 mg rosiglitazone group (–1.89 ± 0.35 pg/ml vs. –2.21 ± 0.39 pg/ml; P<0.01). There were neither any serious adverse events nor any liver enzyme elevations in our study patients during the treatment period. This study demonstrated that rosiglitazone improves the ovulatory dysfunction, hirsutism, hyperandrogenemia, and insulin resistance of PCOS in a dose-related fashion, with minimal adverse effects. This drug may be a good choice for lifetime treatment of patients with PCOS, especially for the ones who failed to show satisfactory results in metformin therapy.
A 59-year-old woman with papillary thyroid carcinoma inside of an autonomously functioning thyroid nodule is described in this report. The patient was referred to our clinic because of rapid weight loss and swelling on the left side of the neck. Ultrasonography of the thyroid demonstrated a nonhomogeneous nodule in the lower part of an enlarged left lobe. Both 99mTc and 123I thyroid scintigraphic imaging showed a hot area corresponding to the nodule with lower uptake in the remaining thyroid tissue. Histopathological examination of the nodule revealed papillary adenocarcinoma, and the immunohistochemistry proved weak but positive staining for triiodothyronine and thyroxine. Based on these findings, the nodule was diagnosed as a functioning papillary adenocarcinoma. Although thyroid carcinoma manifesting as a hot nodule on the radionuclide isotope scan is an extremely rare occurrence, the current case is clinically important because it suggests that the diagnosis of a hot nodule cannot always rule out thyroid carcinoma in the nodule, and that even a hot nodule requires careful management so that the malignancy is not overlooked.
Sex steroids have been postulated to influence pathophysiology of human skin through various skin appendages. The presence of sex steroid receptors has been also reported in adnexal tumors but its details still remained unknown. Therefore, in this study, we immunolocalized sex steroid receptor protein (estrogen receptor (ER)α, ERβ, progesterone receptor (PR)A, PRB and androgen receptor (AR)) in 23 cases of non-pathological skin (male: 10, female: 13) and in 50 cases of skin adnexal tumors (male 24, female 26; 38 benign and 12 malignant). ERα immunoreactivity was detected exclusively in basal cells of sebaceous glands of non-pathological skin. AR and PRB immunoreactivity was detected in both differentiated and basal cells of sebaceous gland. AR and ERβ immunoreactivity was also detected in sebaceous and eccrine sweat glands but not in outer root sheath of hair follicles. In sebaceous gland neoplasms, the number of ERα positive cases was significantly lower in skin appendage neoplasms than non-pathological skin. ERβ immunoreactivity was not detected in any of sebaceous gland neoplasms examined. There were no significant differences in PRA, PRB and AR immunoreactivity between non-pathological sebaceous gland and its neoplasm. In sweat gland neoplasms, the number of AR positive cases was significantly lower in benign neoplasms than their non-pathological counterpart. Therefore sex steroids are considered to play important roles in regulation of non-pathological skin appendage function and pathogenesis and/or development of its neoplasm. In addition, the status of the great majority of sex steroid hormone receptors was maintained throughout the process of neoplastic transformation of skin appendages, except for AR and ERα in sweat and sebaceous gland neoplasms.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) has been shown to induce programmed cell death in various systems. However, little is known about the effect of ATP on human granulosa-luteal cells (hGLCs). The present study was designed to examine the effect of ATP on the activation of the caspase signaling pathway and its role in inducing programmed cell death. Human GLCs were collected from patients undergoing in vitro fertilization programs, and then were cultured in FBS-supplemented DMEM for 3 days prior to our studies. To examine the dose-response relationship, hGLCs were treated with increasing concentrations of ATP (10 μM, 100 μM, 1 mM or 10 mM) for 24 hours. For time-course experiments, hGLCs were treated with 10 mM ATP for 6, 12, or 24 hours. Western blot analysis was performed using antibodies against the pro- and active forms of caspase-3, -9, or PARP. To quantify the induction of apoptosis, DNA fragmentation was measured using the cell death detection enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. To examine the effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in protecting cells from apoptosis, hGLCs were treated with 10 IU hCG in the presence of 10 mM ATP for 12 hours. It was demonstrated that ATP was capable of inducing DNA fragmentation in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Furthermore, Western blot analysis, which detected the pro- and active forms of caspase-3, or PARP, demonstrated that ATP activated the caspase-signaling pathway, leading to the proteolytic conversion of pro-caspase-3 to active caspase-3, and the subsequent cleavage of the caspase substrate PARP. Based on our observation, caspase-9 was not triggered by ATP. Interestingly, hCG attenuated the effect of ATP in activating the caspase signaling pathway. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of the ATP-induced activation of the caspase signaling pathway in the human ovary. These results support the notion that the caspase-signaling pathway is involved in mediating ATP actions in the human ovary.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most frequent autoimmune thyroid disease. L-thyroxine therapy can reduce the incidence and alleviate the symptoms of this disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of prophylactic L-thyroxine treatment on clinical and laboratory findings of patients who were euthyroid at the time of diagnosis. Thirty-three patients who had diagnosis of euthyroid Hashimoto's thyroiditis were randomized to two groups, one group received prophylactic L-thyroxine treatment and the other was followed-up without treatment. Initial thyroid function tests, autoantibodies, ultrasonography, fine needle aspiration biopsy and peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets were similar in the two study groups. After 15 months of L-thyroxine treatment, there was a significant increase in free T4 and a significant decrease in TSH and anti-thyroglobulin antibody anti-thyroid peroxidase antibody levels. CD8+ cell counts increased in both groups, CD4/CD8 levels decreased significantly because of the increase in CD8+ cell count levels. Though there was no change in cytological findings, ultrasonography showed a decrease in thyroid volume in L-thyroxine receiving patients whereas an increase was detected in patients who were followed without treatment. In conclusion, prophylactic thyroid hormone therapy can be used in patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis even if they are euthyroid.
Gonadal functions, with special reference to blood levels of sex-related markers such as 17β-estradiol (E2), free testosterone (free Te) and lutenizing hormone (LH), were examined in male OLETF (Otsuka Long Evans Tokushima Fatty) diabetic rats, a model of human type 2 diabetes mellitus. Male rats of the OLETF strain and male rats of the LETO strain, which act as a control of OLETF, both supplied by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Tokushima, Japan), were periodically examined for blood levels of E2, free Te and LH at the age of 4, 5, 32, 40 and 64 weeks. The weight of the testis, the number of sperm contained within and histological findings of the testis were comparatively studied in both strains. Glucose and insulin (IRI) at fasting were examined to evaluate the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) index. In order to investigate any sex hormone imbalance, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) was measured by a dextran- charcoal assay. All of the OLETF rats became diabetic at the age of 32 weeks. There were no significant differences between OLETF and LETO rats regarding free Te, E2, LH or SHBG during the observation period from 4 to 64 weeks. Testis weight was significantly decreased in OLETF rats at 32 and 64 weeks and sperm counts at 64 weeks of age were also significantly decreased. Histologically, there was seminiferous tubule atrophy in the OLETF rats at 64 weeks of age. A significant negative correlation between testis weight and fasting blood glucose, as well as HOMA index, was observed in OLETF rats. In male diabetic OLETF rats, with a variety of hypogonadisms such as atrophy of the testis and low sperm count, the serum levels of E2, free Te, LH and SHBG were normally preserved.
This study investigates whether the plasma brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) level is increased by the clinical traits of diabetes, including its complications, and whether these levels are affected by the presence of other combined diseases such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and coronary heart disease (CHD) in patients with diabetes. In 223 patients with Type 2 diabetes, the mean value of plasma BNP reached 32.3 ± 4.1 pg/mL. The levels significantly increased with age, hypertension, and CHD but not with the duration of diabetes, HbA1c level, or hyperlipidemia. With regard to the type of therapy, the BNP levels were significantly lower in the combinations of both sulfonylurea and metformin and sulfonylurea and pioglitazone than those in insulin alone. In addition, the BNP levels in the group with diabetic complications, including retinopathy and nephropathy, and macroalbuminuria were significantly elevated in comparison with those without these complications and macroalbuminuria. Interestingly, however, no difference was observed between these groups after removal of the values in patients with CHD. These results have clarified that the plasma BNP levels in diabetic patients could increase only by the progression of macrovascular diseases, such as CHD, but not by the current diabetic control or diabetic microvascular complications.
Subclinical hypothyroidism (SH) represents the earliest stages of hypothyroidism but the benefits of detecting and treating SH are not well known. The aim of this study was to evaluate the alterations in global fibrinolytic capacity (GFC), which indicates the overall fibrinolytic activity, in patients with SH. The study group comprised of 15 patients with SH and 15 healthy controls. The GFC was significantly lower in patients with SH than in control group (p<0.002). This result suggests a relative hypercoagulable state in SH.
We report a patient in whom the administration of HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) might have triggered the onset and worsening of diabetes. The patient was a 48-year-old Japanese man who underwent annual medical examination but had never been told of hyperglycemia. Four months after the commencement of atorvastatin (10 mg/day) treatment, a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus was made from his typical symptoms of hyperglycemia, postprandial plasma glucose level of 29.8 mmol/l and HbA1c of 11.5%. After 2 months of insulin therapy and 3 months after the cessation of atorvastatin, almost complete resolution of diabetes was observed. During the subsequent 3 months, diet therapy alone was sufficient to control blood glucose level. Then, we prescribed pravastatin (20 mg/day). During the subsequent 3 months, HbA1c was gradually increased. However, after discontinuation of pravastatin, HbA1c was gradually decreased. In the general population, statin does not seem to have critical adverse effects on glucose tolerance, but it may uncommonly modify the natural course of the development of diabetes in certain patients.
Pioglitazone is an insulin-sensitizer with a thiazolidinedione structure. It is used to reduce hyperglycemia and is frequently prescribed to type 2 diabetic patients. However, it causes edema as an adverse effect in some patients. Although the mechanism of edema is unclear, it may bring an increased risk of congestive heart failure. We investigated whether pioglitazone correlates with the level of plasma human atrial natriuretic peptide (hANP), a marker for congestive heart failure. We administered 15 mg/day of pioglitazone for 3 months to 49 patients (34 men and 15 women; mean age: 64 ± 12 years) with type 2 diabetes and no history of pretibial edema. Three of the patients complained of pretibial edema during the 3-month period, and their plasma hANP levels were higher than those of the other 46 before and during the treatment. We therefore suspect that pretibial edema appearing after administration of low-doses of pioglitazone coincides with the level of plasma hANP, and that the appearance of pretibial edema may reflect an increase in circulating blood volume induced by pioglitazone.
A woman with a menstrual cycle-dependent fever (more than 38°C) and severe fatigue that disrupted her ability to work was referred to our hospital. Six years ago, the patient received interferon β injections (6,000,000 IU day–1 × 48 days) for the treatment of hepatitis C virus. Although the treatment was successful against the virus, the symptomatic fever occurred monthly since the third year after receiving the treatment. The symptoms occurred a few days after ovulation in every menstrual cycle. When the ovarian function was suppressed by GnRH agonist (GnRHa), the symptoms disappeared. While in anovulation, the patient received estrogen followed by estrogen with progestogen, which resembles the sex hormone milieu of a normal menstrual cycle without the LH surge; this treatment did not induce the symptoms. When human CG (hCG) was injected on the beginning day of estrogen with progestogen following treatment with estrogen alone, the previous symptoms reappeared. However, the hCG injection without estrogen priming did not induce the symptoms. These studies indicated that the LH surge after estrogen priming induced the symptoms. Changes in serum inflammatory cytokine levels (interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α) were examined during the ovulatory cycle and the interleukin-1 levels during the treatment. There were no significant changes on these levels in the febrile period. The patient experienced normal menstrual cycles after finishing the five-month GnRHa treatment. Although her symptoms still occur, they are mild and do not require further medical treatment.