In the classical two-state model, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are considered to exist in equilibrium between an active and an inactive conformation. Thus, even at the resting state, some subpopulation of GPCRs is in the active state, which underlies the basal activity of the GPCRs. In this review, we discuss inverse agonists, which are defined as GPCR ligands that shift the equilibrium toward the inactive state and thereby suppress the basal activity. Theoretically, if constitutive activation plays an essential role in the pathogenesis of a disease, only inverse agonists, and not neutral antagonists, can reverse this pathophysiological activation. Although many pharmacological examples of inverse agonism have been identified, its clinical importance is still unclear and debated. Thus, even though inverse agonism of angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) has been discussed for more than 10 years, its clinical relevance remains to be completely clarified.
A questionnaire administered in 2009 found that members of the Korean Association of Thyroid-Endocrine Surgeons (KATES) favored more aggressive treatment of well-differentiated thyroid carcinoma (WDTC) than physicians from other countries. This study assessed the changes in practical management of WDTC in Korea from the previous survey. Questionnaires were sent by e-mail to KATES members. A total of 101 members completed the questionnaire. Their responses were compared with response for the 2009 survey. Of the respondents, 53.5% and 80.2% indicated that they would perform fine-needle aspiration cytology on nodules that were <0.5 cm and 0.5-1.0 cm in diameter, respectively. If the cytology was positive, a large number of respondents favored surgical treatment, regardless of tumor size. Compared with the 2009 survey, a slightly higher percentage favored observation for patients with tumors that were <0.5 cm in diameter, and a larger percentage recommended less-than-total thyroidectomy for patients with T1 cancers. Respondents in 2014 favored aggressive lymph node dissection less, irrespective of tumor size, preferring short-term treatment with thyroid stimulating hormone suppressors. The percentage preferring postoperative high-dose radioactive iodine therapy slightly increased, whereas the percentage favoring external irradiation decreased, in 2014 compared with 2009. The management of Korean patients with WDTC changed from 2009 to 2014. In 2009, Korean respondents favored more aggressive treatment of WDTC compared with respondents from other countries. In 2014, however, Korean respondents favored a more conservative approach, especially in patients with microcarcinomas.
Myxedema coma (MC) is a life-threatening endocrine crisis caused by severe hypothyroidism. However, validated diagnostic criteria and treatment guidelines for MC have not been established owing to its rarity. Therefore, a valid animal model is required to investigate the pathologic and therapeutic aspects of MC. The aim of the present study was to establish an animal model of MC induced by total thyroidectomy. We utilized 14 male New Zealand White rabbits anesthetized via intramuscular ketamine and xylazine administration. A total of 7 rabbits were completely thyroidectomized under a surgical microscope (thyroidectomized group) and the remainder underwent sham operations (control group). The animals in both groups were monitored without thyroid hormone replacement for 15 weeks. Pulse rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and electrocardiograms (ECG) were recorded and blood samples were taken from the jugular vein immediately prior to the thyroidectomy and 2 and 4 weeks after surgery. The thyroidectomized rabbits showed a marked reduction of serum thyroxine levels at 4 weeks after the surgical procedure vs. controls (0.50±0.10 vs. 3.32±0.68 μg/dL, p<0.001). Additionally, thyroidectomized rabbits exhibited several signs of hypothyroidism such as hypothermia, systolic hypotension, bradycardia, and low voltage on ECGs, compared with controls. Of the 7 rabbits with severe hypothyroidism, 6 died from 4 to 14 weeks after the thyroidectomy possibly owing to heart failure, because histopathologic examinations revealed a myxedema heart. In summary, we have established a rabbit model of fatal hypothyroidism mimicking MC, which may facilitate pathophysiological and molecular investigations of MC and evaluations of new therapeutic interventions.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of the growth hormone-releasing peptide-2 (GHRP-2) test to clinically diagnose hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis failure. We performed an insulin tolerance test (ITT), CRH stimulation test, and GHRP-2 test on 47 patients suspected of having a hypothalamo-pituitary disorder. Patients with pituitary disorders had significantly lower ACTH responses to the GHRP-2 test compared to patients with hypothalamic disorders and the control group. In contrast, peak cortisol levels in response to the GHRP-2 test were significantly lower in both hypothalamic and pituitary disorder cases compared with the control group. Assignment of a cut-off value of 11.6 μg/dL for the peak serum cortisol level demonstrated that the GHRP-2 test was able to predict secondary hypoadrenalism with 88.9% specificity and 89.7% sensitivity. The responses of ACTH and cortisol to the GHRP-2 test had no correlation to the CRH test, suggesting the involvement of a different mechanism of ACTH secretion. These results indicate that the GHRP-2 test may induce ACTH secretion from the pituitary gland through direct stimulation. Although the GHRP-2 test does not have the same predictive value as the insulin tolerance test (ITT), it has similar diagnostic potential as the CRH stimulation test for evaluating HPA axis failure.
Cushing’s disease (CD) and subclinical Cushing’s disease (subCD) are both diseases caused by adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary adenomas. However, ACTH autonomy in subCD is weaker than in CD and there are no Cushingoid features in subCD. The differences of molecular mechanisms in ACTH autonomy between CD and subCD have not yet been reported. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the differences in molecular mechanisms of ACTH-secretion autonomy between CD and subCD. The study included 23 patients [7 CD, 6 subCD, and 10 non-functioning pituitary tumors (NFTs)] who underwent transsphenoidal surgery at the Osaka University Hospital between December 2009 and October 2013. Using quantitative real-time PCR, various ACTH-related gene expressions in tumor tissues from CD, subCD, and NFT were measured such as pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), POMC transcription factor (Tpit, Pitx1, NeuroD1, and Nur77), POMC peptide processing enzymes (prohormone convertase: PC1/3 and PC2), and ACTH secretion-related factors (corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1: CRHR1 and glucocorticoid receptor α: GRα). Only Nur77 mRNA levels were significantly higher in CD than in subCD. Furthermore, we stained 6 CD and 6 subCD with anti-Nur77 antibody. All tumor samples from CD had Nur77 protein positive cells. On the other hand, Nur77 protein was expressed in only one tumor sample from subCD. This sample showed high expression of Nur77 mRNA. Nur77 is an important to regulate POMC transcription and negative-feedback by glucocorticoids. Nur77 gene expression levels might involve different autonomy of ACTH production between CD and subCD.
Retinoic acid (RA) is an important signaling molecule in embryonic development and adult tissue. The actions of RA are mediated by the nuclear receptors retinoic acid receptor (RAR) and retinoid X receptor (RXR), which regulate gene expression. RAR and RXR are widely expressed in the anterior pituitary gland. RA was reported to stimulate growth hormone (GH) gene expression in the anterior pituitary cells. However, current evidence is unclear on the role of RA in gene expression of growth hormone-releasing hormone receptor (Ghrh-r), growth hormone secretagogue receptor (Ghs-r) and somatostatin receptors (Sst-rs). Using isolated anterior pituitary cells of rats, we examined the effects of RA on gene expression of these receptors and GH release. Quantitative real-time PCR revealed that treatment with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA; 10-6 M) for 24 h increased gene expression levels of Ghrh-r and Ghs-r; however, expressions of Sst-r2 and Sst-r5 were unchanged. Combination treatment with the RAR-agonist Am80 and RXR-agonist PA024 mimicked the effects of ATRA on Ghrh-r and Ghs-r gene expressions. Exposure of isolated pituitary cells to ATRA had no effect on basal GH release. In contrast, ATRA increased growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH)- and ghrelin-stimulated GH release from cultured anterior pituitary cells. Our results suggest that expressions of Ghrh-r and Ghs-r are regulated by RA through the RAR-RXR receptor complex and that RA enhances the effects of GHRH and ghrelin on GH release from the anterior pituitary gland.
In the last ten years a liquid formulation of liothyronine (L-T3) became available. To date, no studies on its systematic use have been reported. This study is aimed at assessing the reliability of liquid L-T3 in achieving target TSH in patients with differentiated thyroid cancers (DTC). Twenty-one high risk DTC patients in whom levothyroxine treatment up to 2.0 μg/kg/day did not suppress TSH levels (i.e. >0.1 mIU/L) were selected. Maintaining the same L-T4 dose, they started to assume liquid L-T3 at an initial fixed dose of 3.55 μg (5 drops). Further adjustments of L-T3 dose were tailored according to individual assessment. Initial serum TSH ranged from 0.8 to 12.0 mIU/L, when patients assumed high dose of L-T4 alone. Following the addition of a daily single dose of 3.55 μg L-T3, the target TSH was attained in five patients (23.8%). After increasing L-T3 dose up to a mean of 7.3±3.4 μg/day all patients reached target serum TSH (<0.1 mIU/L). The mean individual L-T3 dose was significantly correlated with the body weight and was 0.11±0.04 μg/kg/day (p=0.013). Mean L-T4:L-T3 ratio was 21:1. No patients showed skewed free-T3 or free-T4 values, neither experienced discomfort nor reported adverse events. Liquid L-T3 can be useful to achieve optimal TSH suppression in high risk DTC with not suppressed TSH on L-T4 alone. This formulation allows an individual tailoring of L-T3, minimizing risks of side effects as well as of overtreatment in these clinical conditions.
We have recently demonstrated that endotoxin causes oxidative stress and overproduction of nitric oxide in adrenal glands, thereby leading to adrenocortical insufficiency. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of resveratrol, a natural plant polyphenol with anti-oxidant and anti-nitrative properties, on endotoxemia-associated adrenocortical insufficiency. Resveratrol was administered immediately before injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Twenty four hours later, the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation tests was been performed to measure the plasma corticosterone level and the adrenal gland tissues were collected for histopathologic examination, and determination of malondialdehyde (MDA), total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC), superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, catalase (CAT) activity, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression, nitric oxide (NO) and peroxynitrite production. Treatment with resveratrol significantly inhibited endotoxemia-induced iNOS expression, NO production, and peroxynitrite formation and also attenuated LPS-induced oxidative stress in the adrenal gland, as evidenced by the decrease of pro-oxidant biomarker (MDA), and the increases of anti-oxidant biomarkers (T-AOC, CAT and SOD activity). H&E staining demonstrated that administration of LPS resulted in increased into the adrenal gland. H&E-stained sections of adrenal glands demonstrated signs of leukocyte infiltration and hemorrhage during endotoxemia, which were significantly improved by resveratrol treatment. In addition, resveratrol reversed the LPS-induced downregulation of ACTH receptor and silent information regulator 1 (SIRT1) in adrenal gland, as well as adrenocortical hyporesponsiveness to ACTH. Resveratrol exerts protective effects against endotoxemia-associated adrenocortical insufficiency by suppressing oxidative/nitrative stress. These findings support the potential for resveratrol as a possible pharmacological agent to improve adrenocortical insufficiency resulting from oxidative/nitrative damage.
This study aimed to characterize the inflammatory cytokine profiles and further validate the significantly different cytokines in the serum obtained from obese children aged 36-48 months. Four obese children and four lean controls were randomly selected for inflammatory cytokine array assay, in which two cytokines [soluble tumor necrosis factor-α receptors (sTNFRs) 1 and 2] were found to be significantly different. Both cytokines (sTNFR1 and sTNFR2) were then further validated through enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in 61 obese children and 52 lean children. ELISA results revealed that serum sTNFR1 level in obese children significantly increased (p = 0.003), whereas sTNFR2 did not change significantly (p = 0.069). Stratified analysis by gender showed that only obese girls presented increased sTNFR1 (p = 0.005) and sTNFR2 (p = 0.049) levels. We conclude that serum sTNFR1 is elevated in early childhood obesity. Moreover, serum sTNFR1 and sTNFR2 are associated with obese girls but not obese boys, thereby suggesting that serum sTNFRs in early childhood obesity may be sex related.
To investigate if ipragliflozin, a novel sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitor, alters body composition and to identify variables associated with reductions in visceral adipose tissue in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. This prospective observational study enrolled Japanese participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Subjects were administered ipragliflozin (50 mg/day) once daily for 16 weeks. Body composition, visceral adipose tissue volume and plasma variables were measured at 0, 8, and 16-weeks. The subjects’ lifestyle habits including diet and exercise were evaluated at baseline and 16 weeks. The primary endpoint was defined as the decrease of visceral adipose tissue mass. Twenty-four of 26 enrolled participants completed the study. The visceral adipose tissue decreased significantly (110 ± 33 to 101 ± 36 cm2, p = 0.005) as well as other parameters for metabolic insufficiency including hemoglobin A1c. Seventy-one % of the total body weight reduction (-2.49 kg) was estimated by a decrease in fat mass (-1.77 kg), and the remaining reduction (22%) by water volume (-0.55 kg). A minor but significant reduction in the skeletal muscle index was also observed. Correlation analyses were performed to identify variables associated with changes in visceral adipose tissue and the only significant variable identified was diet therapy (Spearman’s r = -0.416, p = 0.043). Ipragliflozin significantly decreased visceral adipose tissue, and improved parametres for metabolic dysfunction. Adequate diet therapy would be necessary to induce and enhance the therapeutic merit.