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Concept: Endocrinology


BACKGROUND: Endocrine disrupting chemicals and carcinogens, some of which may not yet have been classified as such, are present in many occupational environments and could increase breast cancer risk. Prior research has identified associations with breast cancer and work in agricultural and industrial settings. The purpose of this study was to further characterize possible links between breast cancer risk and occupation, particularly in farming and manufacturing, as well as to examine the impacts of early agricultural exposures, and exposure effects that are specific to the endocrine receptor status of tumours. METHODS: 1006 breast cancer cases referred by a regional cancer center and 1146 randomly-selected community controls provided detailed data including occupational and reproductive histories. All reported jobs were industry- and occupation-coded for the construction of cumulative exposure metrics representing likely exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. In a frequency-matched case–control design, exposure effects were estimated using conditional logistic regression. RESULTS: Across all sectors, women in jobs with potentially high exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors had elevated breast cancer risk (OR = 1.42; 95% CI, 1.18-1.73, for 10 years exposure duration). Specific sectors with elevated risk included: agriculture (OR = 1.36; 95% CI, 1.01-1.82); bars-gambling (OR = 2.28; 95% CI, 0.94-5.53); automotive plastics manufacturing (OR = 2.68; 95% CI, 1.47-4.88), food canning (OR = 2.35; 95% CI, 1.00-5.53), and metalworking (OR = 1.73; 95% CI, 1.02-2.92). Estrogen receptor status of tumors with elevated risk differed by occupational grouping. Premenopausal breast cancer risk was highest for automotive plastics (OR = 4.76; 95% CI, 1.58-14.4) and food canning (OR = 5.70; 95% CI, 1.03-31.5). CONCLUSIONS: These observations support hypotheses linking breast cancer risk and exposures likely to include carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, and demonstrate the value of detailed work histories in environmental and occupational epidemiology.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Oncology, Estrogen, Endocrinology, Estrogen receptor, Endocrine system, Endocrine disruptor


Esteban Gonzalez Burchard and colleagues explore how making medical research more diverse would aid not only social justice but scientific quality and clinical effectiveness, too.

Concepts: Endocrinology, Medical research, Orphan drug


DESCRIPTION: Update of the 2005 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation statement on hormone therapy for the prevention of chronic conditions in postmenopausal women. METHODS: The USPSTF commissioned a review of the literature to update evidence about the benefits and harms of using menopausal hormone therapy to prevent chronic conditions, as well as whether the benefits and harms of hormone therapy differ by population subgroups defined by age; the presence of comorbid medical conditions; and the type, dose, and method of hormonal delivery. POPULATION: This recommendation applies to postmenopausal women who are considering hormone therapy for the primary prevention of chronic medical conditions. It does not apply to women who are considering hormone therapy for the management of menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes or vaginal dryness. It also does not apply to women younger than 50 years who have had surgical menopause. RECOMMENDATION: The USPSTF recommends against the use of combined estrogen and progestin for the prevention of chronic conditions in postmenopausal women. (Grade D recommendation)The USPSTF recommends against the use of estrogen for the prevention of chronic conditions in postmenopausal women who have had a hysterectomy. (Grade D recommendation).

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Hormone replacement therapy, Medicine, Hormone, Menopause, Estrogen, Endocrinology, Luteinizing hormone


The prospective association between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) measured in young adulthood and middle age on development of prediabetes, defined as impaired fasting glucose and/or impaired glucose tolerance, or diabetes by middle age remains unknown. We hypothesised that higher fitness levels would be associated with reduced risk for developing incident prediabetes/diabetes by middle age.

Concepts: Nutrition, Insulin, Middle Ages, Endocrinology, Glucose tolerance test, Impaired fasting glycaemia, Impaired glucose tolerance, Young adult


Despite the ever-increasing role of pesticides in modern agriculture, their deleterious effects are still underexplored. Here we examine the effect of A6, a pesticide derived from the naturally-occurring α-terthienyl, and structurally related to the endocrine disrupting pesticides anilinopyrimidines, on living zebrafish larvae. We show that both A6 and an anilinopyrimidine, cyprodinyl, decrease larval survival and affect central neurons at micromolar concentrations. Focusing on a superficial and easily observable sensory system, the lateral line system, we found that defects in axonal and sensory cell regeneration can be observed at much lower doses, in the nanomolar range. We also show that A6 accumulates preferentially in lateral line neurons and hair cells. We examined whether A6 affects the expression of putative target genes, and found that genes involved in apoptosis/cell proliferation are down-regulated, as well as genes reflecting estrogen receptor activation, consistent with previous reports that anilinopyrimidines act as endocrine disruptors. On the other hand, canonical targets of endocrine signaling are not affected, suggesting that the neurotoxic effect of A6 may be due to the binding of this compound to a recently identified, neuron-specific estrogen receptor.

Concepts: Effect, Endocrinology, Affect, Sense, Pesticide, Endocrine system, Endocrine disruptor, Neurotoxicity


The occurrence of intersex fish, where male reproductive tissues show evidence of feminization, have been found in freshwater systems around the world, indicating the potential for significant endocrine disruption across species in the ecosystem. Estrogens from birth control medications in wastewater treatment plant effluent have been cited as the likely cause, but research has shown that endocrine disruption is not solely predictable based on hormone receptor interactions. Many other non-hormone pharmaceuticals are found in effluent at concentrations orders of magnitude higher than estrogens, yet there is little data indicating the impacts of these other medications. The widely prescribed anti-diabetic metformin is among the most abundant of pharmaceuticals found in effluent and is structurally dissimilar from hormones. However, we show here that exposing fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) to a concentration of metformin found in wastewater effluent causes the development of intersex gonads in males, reduced size of treated male fish, and reduction in fecundity for treated pairs. Our results demonstrate that metformin acts as an endocrine disruptor at environmentally relevant concentrations.

Concepts: Endocrinology, Water pollution, Sewage treatment, Endocrine system, Endocrine disruptor, Hermaphrodite, Pimephales, Fathead minnow


Glycoprotein hormones (GPHs) are the main regulators of the pituitary-thyroid and pituitary-gonadal axes. Selective interaction between GPHs and their cognate G protein-coupled receptors ensure specificity in GPH signaling. The mechanisms how these hormones activate glycoprotein hormone receptors (GPHRs) or how mutations and autoantibodies can alter receptor function were unclear. Based on the hypothesis that GPHRs contain an internal agonist, we systematically screened peptide libraries derived from the ectodomain for agonistic activity on the receptors. We show that a peptide (p10) derived from a conserved sequence in the C-terminal part of the extracellular N terminus can activate all GPHRs in vitro and in GPHR-expressing tissues. Inactivating mutations in this conserved region or in p10 can inhibit activation of the thyroid stimulating hormone receptor by autoantibodies. Our data suggest an activation mechanism where, upon extracellular ligand binding, this intramolecular agonist isomerizes and induces structural changes in the 7-transmembrane helix domain triggering G-protein activation. This mechanism can explain the pathophysiology of activating autoantibodies and several mutations causing endocrine dysfunctions such as Graves' disease, hypo- and hyperthyroidism. Our findings highlight an evolutionarily conserved activation mechanism of GPHRs and will further promote the development of specific ligands useful to treat Graves' disease and other dysfunctions of GPHRs.

Concepts: Protein, Signal transduction, Hormone, Endocrinology, Receptor, Cell signaling, Receptor antagonist, G protein-coupled receptor


Context: Recently, new clinically important information regarding Klinefelter syndrome (KS) has been published. We review aspects of epidemiology, endocrinology, metabolism, body composition, and neuropsychology with reference to recent genetic discoveries. Evidence Acquisition: PubMed was searched for “Klinefelter,” “Klinefelter’s,” and “XXY” in titles and abstracts. Relevant papers were obtained and reviewed, as well as other articles selected by the authors. Evidence Synthesis: KS is the most common sex chromosome disorder in males, affecting one in 660 men. The genetic background is the extra X-chromosome, which may be inherited from either parent. Most genes from the extra X undergo inactivation, but some escape and serve as the putative genetic cause of the syndrome. KS is severely underdiagnosed or is diagnosed late in life, roughly 25% are diagnosed, and the mean age of diagnosis is in the mid-30s. KS is associated with an increased morbidity resulting in loss of approximately 2 yr in life span with an increased mortality from many different diseases. The key findings in KS are small testes, hypergonadotropic hypogonadism, and cognitive impairment. The hypogonadism may lead to changes in body composition and a risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The cognitive impairment is mainly in the area of language processing. Boys with KS are often in need of speech therapy, and many suffer from learning disability and may benefit from special education. Medical treatment is mainly testosterone replacement therapy to alleviate acute and long-term consequences of hypogonadism as well as treating or preventing the frequent comorbidity. Conclusions: More emphasis should be placed on increasing the rate of diagnosis and generating evidence for timing and dose of testosterone replacement. Treatment of KS should be a multidisciplinary task including pediatricians, speech therapists, general practitioners, psychologists, infertility specialists, urologists, and endocrinologists.

Concepts: Medicine, Endocrinology, Syndromes, Klinefelter's syndrome, Aneuploidy, Y chromosome, X chromosome, Mosaic


The role of temporary ovarian suppression with luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists (LHRHa) in the prevention of chemotherapy-induced premature ovarian failure (POF) is still controversial. Our meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCT) investigates whether use of LHRHa during chemotherapy in premenopausal breast cancer patients reduces treatment-related POF rate, increases pregnancy rate and impacts disease-free survival (DFS).

Concepts: Breast cancer, Metastasis, Randomized controlled trial, Menopause, Estrogen, Chemotherapy, Endocrinology, Premature ovarian failure


Nanomaterials (NMs) are engineered for commercial purposes such as semiconductors, building materials, cosmetics, and drug carriers, while natural nanoparticles (NPs) already exist in the environment. Due to their unique physicochemical properties, they may interact actively with biological systems. Some of these interactions might be detrimental to human health, and therefore studies on the potential ‘nanotoxicity’ of these materials in different organ systems are warranted. The purpose of developing the concept of nanotoxicity is to recognize and evaluate the hazards and risks of NMs and evaluate safety. This review will summarize and discuss recent reports derived from cell lines or animal models concerning the effects of NMs on, and their application in, the endocrine system of mammalian and other species. It will present an update on current studies of the effects of some typical NMs-such as metal-based NMs, carbon-based NMs, and dendrimers-on endocrine functions, in which some effects are adverse or unwanted and others are favorable or intended. Disruption of endocrine function is associated with adverse health outcomes including reproductive failure, metabolic syndrome, and some types of cancer. Further investigations are therefore required to obtain a thorough understanding of any potential risk of pathological endocrine disruption from products containing NMs. This review aims to provide impetus for further studies on the interactions of NMs with endocrine functions.

Concepts: Human, Nutrition, Biology, Life, Endocrinology, Nanotechnology, Endocrine system, Endocrine disruptor