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1.  Homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia: new insights and guidance for clinicians to improve detection and clinical management. A position paper from the Consensus Panel on Familial Hypercholesterolaemia of the European Atherosclerosis Society 
European Heart Journal  2014;35(32):2146-2157.
Homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia (HoFH) is a rare life-threatening condition characterized by markedly elevated circulating levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and accelerated, premature atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACVD). Given recent insights into the heterogeneity of genetic defects and clinical phenotype of HoFH, and the availability of new therapeutic options, this Consensus Panel on Familial Hypercholesterolaemia of the European Atherosclerosis Society (EAS) critically reviewed available data with the aim of providing clinical guidance for the recognition and management of HoFH.
Methods and results
Early diagnosis of HoFH and prompt initiation of diet and lipid-lowering therapy are critical. Genetic testing may provide a definitive diagnosis, but if unavailable, markedly elevated LDL-C levels together with cutaneous or tendon xanthomas before 10 years, or untreated elevated LDL-C levels consistent with heterozygous FH in both parents, are suggestive of HoFH. We recommend that patients with suspected HoFH are promptly referred to specialist centres for a comprehensive ACVD evaluation and clinical management. Lifestyle intervention and maximal statin therapy are the mainstays of treatment, ideally started in the first year of life or at an initial diagnosis, often with ezetimibe and other lipid-modifying therapy. As patients rarely achieve LDL-C targets, adjunctive lipoprotein apheresis is recommended where available, preferably started by age 5 and no later than 8 years. The number of therapeutic approaches has increased following approval of lomitapide and mipomersen for HoFH. Given the severity of ACVD, we recommend regular follow-up, including Doppler echocardiographic evaluation of the heart and aorta annually, stress testing and, if available, computed tomography coronary angiography every 5 years, or less if deemed necessary.
This EAS Consensus Panel highlights the need for early identification of HoFH patients, prompt referral to specialized centres, and early initiation of appropriate treatment. These recommendations offer guidance for a wide spectrum of clinicians who are often the first to identify patients with suspected HoFH.
PMCID: PMC4139706  PMID: 25053660
Homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia; Diagnosis; Genetics; Phenotypic heterogeneity; Statins; Ezetimibe; Lipoprotein apheresis; Lomitapide; Mipomersen
2.  Interaction between Glucose and Lipid Metabolism: More than Diabetic Dyslipidemia 
Diabetes & Metabolism Journal  2015;39(5):353-362.
Glucose and lipid metabolism are linked to each other in many ways. The most important clinical manifestation of this interaction is diabetic dyslipidemia, characterized by elevated triglycerides, low high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and predominance of small-dense LDL particles. However, in the last decade we have learned that the interaction is much more complex. Hypertriglyceridemia and low HDL-C cannot only be the consequence but also the cause of a disturbed glucose metabolism. Furthermore, it is now well established that statins are associated with a small but significant increase in the risk for new onset diabetes. The underlying mechanisms are not completely understood but modulation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG CoA)-reductase may play a central role as genetic data indicate that mutations resulting in lower HMG CoA-reductase activity are also associated with obesity, higher glucose concentrations and diabetes. Very interestingly, this statin induced increased risk for new onset type 2 diabetes is not detectable in subjects with familial hypercholesterolemia. Furthermore, patients with familial hypercholesterolemia seem to have a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, a phenomenon which seems to be dose-dependent (the higher the low density lipoprotein cholesterol, the lower the risk). Whether there is also an interaction between lipoprotein(a) and diabetes is still a matter of debate.
PMCID: PMC4641964  PMID: 26566492
Diabetes mellitus; Diabetic dyslipidemia; Hyperlipoproteinemia type II; Hyperlipoproteinemias; Statin
3.  Familial hypercholesterolaemia in children and adolescents: gaining decades of life by optimizing detection and treatment 
European Heart Journal  2015;36(36):2425-2437.
Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is a common genetic cause of premature coronary heart disease (CHD). Globally, one baby is born with FH every minute. If diagnosed and treated early in childhood, individuals with FH can have normal life expectancy. This consensus paper aims to improve awareness of the need for early detection and management of FH children. Familial hypercholesterolaemia is diagnosed either on phenotypic criteria, i.e. an elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) level plus a family history of elevated LDL-C, premature coronary artery disease and/or genetic diagnosis, or positive genetic testing. Childhood is the optimal period for discrimination between FH and non-FH using LDL-C screening. An LDL-C ≥5 mmol/L (190 mg/dL), or an LDL-C ≥4 mmol/L (160 mg/dL) with family history of premature CHD and/or high baseline cholesterol in one parent, make the phenotypic diagnosis. If a parent has a genetic defect, the LDL-C cut-off for the child is ≥3.5 mmol/L (130 mg/dL). We recommend cascade screening of families using a combined phenotypic and genotypic strategy. In children, testing is recommended from age 5 years, or earlier if homozygous FH is suspected. A healthy lifestyle and statin treatment (from age 8 to 10 years) are the cornerstones of management of heterozygous FH. Target LDL-C is <3.5 mmol/L (130 mg/dL) if >10 years, or ideally 50% reduction from baseline if 8–10 years, especially with very high LDL-C, elevated lipoprotein(a), a family history of premature CHD or other cardiovascular risk factors, balanced against the long-term risk of treatment side effects. Identifying FH early and optimally lowering LDL-C over the lifespan reduces cumulative LDL-C burden and offers health and socioeconomic benefits. To drive policy change for timely detection and management, we call for further studies in the young. Increased awareness, early identification, and optimal treatment from childhood are critical to adding decades of healthy life for children and adolescents with FH.
PMCID: PMC4576143  PMID: 26009596
Familial hypercholesterolaemia; Children; Adolescents; LDL cholesterol; Diagnosis; Treatment; Statin; Ezetimibe; PCSK9 inhibitor; Consensus statement
4.  Interleukin-6 predicts inflammation-induced increase of Glucagon-like peptide-1 in humans in response to cardiac surgery with association to parameters of glucose metabolism 
Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an incretin hormone, which gets secreted in response to nutritional stimuli from the gut mediating glucose-dependent insulin secretion. Interestingly, GLP-1 was recently found to be also increased in response to inflammatory stimuli in an interleukin 6 (IL-6) dependent manner in mice. The relevance of this finding to humans is unknown but has been suggested by the presence of high circulating GLP-1 levels in critically ill patients that correlated with markers of inflammation. This study was performed to elucidate, whether a direct link exists between inflammation and GLP-1 secretion in humans.
Research design and methods
We enrolled 22 non-diabetic patients scheduled for cardiac surgery as a reproducible inflammatory stimulus with repeated blood sampling before and after surgery.
Mean total circulating GLP-1 levels significantly increased in response to surgery from 25.5 ± 15.6 pM to 51.9 ± 42.7 pM which was not found in a control population. This was preceded by an early rise of IL6, which was significantly associated with GLP-1 under inflammatory but not basal conditions. Using repeated measure ANCOVA, IL6 best predicted the observed kinetics of GLP-1, followed by blood glucose concentrations and cortisol plasma levels. Furthermore, GLP-1 plasma concentrations significantly predicted endogenous insulin production as assessed by C-peptide concentrations over time, while an inverse association was found for insulin infusion rate.
We found GLP-1 secretion to be increased in response to inflammatory stimuli in humans, which was associated to parameters of glucose metabolism and best predicted by IL6.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12933-016-0330-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4739342  PMID: 26842302
GLP-1; IL6; Inflammation; Insulin secretion; Cardiac surgery; Inflammatory response
5.  Mipomersen: evidence-based review of its potential in the treatment of homozygous and severe heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia 
Core Evidence  2012;7:29-38.
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an autosomal-dominant inherited disease with a prevalence of one in 500 (heterozygous) to one in 1,000,000 (homozygous). Mutations of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor gene, the apolipoprotein B100 gene, or the PCSK9 gene may be responsible for the disease. The resulting LDL hypercholesterolemia results in premature atherosclerosis as early as childhood (homozygous FH) or in adulthood (heterozygous FH). Current treatment modalities include lifestyle modification, combination drug therapy (statin-based), and apheresis. Mipomersen is an antisense oligonucleotide which inhibits apolipoprotein B production independent of LDL receptor function and thus works in homozygous FH, heterozygous FH, and other forms of hypercholesterolemia. Mipomersen is given 200 mg/week subcutaneously. Phase III studies indicate that the LDL cholesterol concentration can be reduced by 25%–47%, lipoprotein(a) levels by 20%–40%, and triglyceride concentrations by approximately 10%. In general, mipomersen has no effect on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. Although there is considerable interindividual variability, the observed lipid effects are largely independent of age, gender, concomitant statin therapy, and underlying dyslipoproteinemia. The most common side effects are injection site reactions (70%–100%), flu-like symptoms (29%–46%), and elevated transaminases associated with an increased liver fat content (6%–15%). Mipomersen may be an interesting addon drug in patients with heterozygous or homozygous FH not reaching treatment goals, either because baseline values are very high or because high-dose statins are not tolerated.
PMCID: PMC3373191  PMID: 22701100
antisense oligonucleotide; statin intolerance; apolipoprotein B
6.  The stool microbiota of insulin resistant women with recent gestational diabetes, a high risk group for type 2 diabetes 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:13212.
The gut microbiota has been linked to metabolic diseases. However, information on the microbiome of young adults at risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D) is lacking. The aim of this cross-sectional analysis was to investigate whether insulin resistant women with previous gestational diabetes (pGDM), a high risk group for T2D, differ in their stool microbiota from women after a normoglycemic pregnancy (controls). Bacterial communities were analyzed by high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing using fecal samples from 42 pGDM and 35 control subjects 3–16 months after delivery. Clinical characterization included a 5-point OGTT, anthropometrics, clinical chemistry markers and a food frequency questionnaire. Women with a Prevotellaceae-dominated intestinal microbiome were overrepresented in the pGDM group (p < 0.0001). Additionally, the relative abundance of the phylum Firmicutes was significantly lower in women pGDM (median 48.5 vs. 56.8%; p = 0.013). Taxa richness (alpha diversity) was similar between the two groups and with correction for multiple testing we observed no significant differences on lower taxonomic levels. These results suggest that distinctive features of the intestinal microbiota are already present in young adults at risk for T2D and that further investigations of a potential pathophysiological role of gut bacteria in early T2D development are warranted.
PMCID: PMC4538691  PMID: 26279179
7.  The polygenic nature of hypertriglyceridaemia: implications for definition, diagnosis, and management 
Plasma triglyceride concentration is a biomarker for circulating triglyceride-rich lipoproteins and their metabolic remnants. Common mild-to-moderate hypertriglyceridaemia is typically multigenic, and results from the cumulative burden of common and rare variants in more than 30 genes, as quantified by genetic risk scores. Rare autosomal recessive monogenic hypertriglyceridaemia can result from large-effect mutations in six different genes. Hypertriglyceridaemia is exacerbated by non-genetic factors. On the basis of recent genetic data, we redefine the disorder into two states: severe (triglyceride concentration >10 mmol/L), which is more likely to have a monogenic cause; and mild-to-moderate (triglyceride concentration 2–10 mmol/L). Because of clustering of susceptibility alleles and secondary factors in families, biochemical screening and counselling for family members is essential, but routine genetic testing is not warranted. Treatment includes management of lifestyle and secondary factors, and pharmacotherapy. In severe hypertriglyceridaemia, intervention is indicated because of pancreatitis risk; in mild-to-moderate hypertriglyceridaemia, intervention can be indicated to prevent cardiovascular disease, dependent on triglyceride concentration, concomitant lipoprotein disturbances, and overall cardiovascular risk.
PMCID: PMC4201123  PMID: 24731657
8.  Review of extended-release niacin/laropiprant fixed combination in the treatment of mixed dyslipidemia and primary hypercholesterolemia 
Although statins reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality further risk reduction is needed. In this respect low HDL-cholesterol concentrations and/or elevated triglyceride concentrations may be potential treatment targets. Niacin (nicotinic acid) is an effective drug which increases the plasma concentration of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol and decreases the concentration of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoprotein(a). Clinical studies indicate that niacin can significantly reduce the risk for cardiovascular events. However, niacin is not very commonly used because of significant side effects (especially flushing). Laropiprant is a potent selective antagonist of PGD2-receptor subtype-1 and can thus reduce niacin-induced flushing. Although the addition of laropiprant will reduce the frequency of flushing, it will not completely eliminate this side effect. Laropiprant does not change the effect of niacin on lipids or other side effects of niacin (ie, gastro-intestinal problems, glucose elevation). The combination of niacin with laropiprant may therefore enable use of niacin at higher doses and therefore exploit the full potential of the drug. Endpoint studies that will be published over the next few years will show whether this treatment modality also translates into clinical effect in patients treated with statins. Until publication of these studies niacin/laropiprant should be used only in high-risk patients not achieving lipid goals on statins.
PMCID: PMC2788595  PMID: 20016845
nicotinic acid; flushing; hyperlipidemia; dyslipoproteinemia
9.  Differences in the Serum Nonesterified Fatty Acid Profile of Young Women Associated with a Recent History of Gestational Diabetes and Overweight/Obesity 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0128001.
Nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) play pathophysiological roles in metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (T2D). In this study, we analyzed the fasting NEFA profiles of normoglycemic individuals at risk for T2D (women with a recent history of gestational diabetes (GDM)) in comparison to controls (women after a normoglycemic pregnancy). We also examined the associations of NEFA species with overweight/obesity, body fat distribution and insulin sensitivity.
Subjects and Methods
Using LC-MS/MS, we analyzed 41 NEFA species in the fasting sera of 111 women (62 post-GDM, 49 controls). Clinical characterization included a five-point oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), biomarkers and anthropometrics, magnetic resonance imaging (n = 62) and a food frequency questionnaire. Nonparametric tests with Bonferroni correction, binary logistic regression analyses and rank correlations were used for statistical analysis.
Women after GDM had a lower molar percentage of total saturated fatty acids (SFA; 38.55% vs. 40.32%, p = 0.0002) than controls. At an explorative level of significance several NEFA species were associated with post-GDM status (with and without adjustment for body mass index (BMI) and HbA1c): The molar percentages of 14:0, 16:0, 18:0 and 18:4 were reduced, whereas those of 18:1, 18:2, 20:2, 24:4, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and total n-6 NEFA were increased. BMI and the amount of body fat correlated inversely with several SFA and MUFA and positively with various PUFA species over the whole study cohort (abs(ρ)≥0.3 for all). 14:0 was inversely and BMI-independently associated with abdominal visceral adiposity. We saw no correlations of NEFA species with insulin sensitivity and the total NEFA concentration was similar in the post-GDM and the control group.
In conclusion, we found alterations in the fasting NEFA profile associated with a recent history of gestational diabetes, a risk marker for T2D. NEFA composition also varied with overweight/obesity and with body fat distribution, but not with insulin sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC4444334  PMID: 26011768
10.  Height-obesity relationship in school children in Sub-Saharan Africa: results of a cross-sectional study in Cameroon 
BMC Research Notes  2015;8:98.
In developed nations, taller children exhibit a greater propensity to overweight/obesity. This study investigates whether this height-adiposity relationship holds true for Cameroon children using two parameters of adiposity including body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC).
In 557 children (287 boys and 270 girls, mean age 9.0 ± 1.8 years) from the North West Region of Cameroon height, weight and WC were measured and BMI calculated. Variables were converted to standard deviation scores (SDS). Participants were divided into quartiles of height SDS, then mean of age and sex-standardized body fat parameters compared across quartiles. The frequency of excess adiposity was calculated within each quartile. Correlation and regression analysis were used to assess height-adiposity relationships.
Multiple comparisons indicated a significant increase in mean BMI (−0.08 to 0.65) and WC (−0.11 to 0.87) SDSs with increasing quartiles of height SDS. Frequency of overweight/obesity and abdominal overweight/obesity was highest among children with highest height SDS (30.2 – 33.1%) and lowest in their shortest peers (0.7 – 5.0%). There was a linear relationship between height SDS and BMI SDS (R2 = 0.087, p < 0.001); height SDS and WC SDS (R2 = 0.356, p < 0.001) among both boys and girls.
This study shows that in Cameroon just as in developed economies a higher height SDS is associated with a higher frequency of overweight/obesity. This is independent of the parameter used to evaluate overweight/obesity (BMI SDS or WC SDS).
PMCID: PMC4377213  PMID: 25889151
Height; Waist circumference; BMI
11.  Contribution of socioeconomic status, stature and birth weight to obesity in Sub-Saharan Africa: cross-sectional data from primary school-age children in Cameroon 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:320.
The pattern of obesity in relation to socioeconomic status is of public health concern. This study investigates whether the association between height and obesity in children is affected by their socioeconomic background. It also explores the relationship between high birth weight and obesity.
School children, (N = 557; 5 to 12 years old) were recruited from randomly selected primary schools in a cross-sectional study including 173 rural and 384 urban children in the North West Region of Cameroon. Socioeconomic status (SES) and birth weight were obtained using a self administered questionnaire. Anthropometric measures included height, weight, BMI, waist circumference and percentage body fat. These measures were transformed into age and sex-standardized variables. Then participants were divided according to quartiles of height SDS.
The highest frequencies of overweight/obesity (18.8%), abdominal overweight/obesity (10.9%) and high body fat/obesity (12.3%) were observed among the tallest children from a high socioeconomic background. Univariate analyses indicate that children of high SES (39.9%), fourth height quartile (33.1%) and of high birth weight (54.8%) were significantly (p < 0.001) more likely to be overweight/obese. Multivariate analyses showed high SES (OR 8.3, 95% CI 3.9 – 15.4), fourth height quartile (OR 9.1, 95% CI 3.4 – 16.7) and high birth weight (OR 0.1, 95% CI 0.06 – 0.2) as independent predictors of overweight/obesity.
This study confirms that children coming from a high socioeconomic background and being tall are at particular risk of becoming obese.
PMCID: PMC3983851  PMID: 24708806
Socioeconomic status; Obesity; Height; Children
12.  Circulating concentrations of GLP-1 are associated with coronary atherosclerosis in humans 
GLP-1 is an incretine hormone which gets secreted from intestinal L-cells in response to nutritional stimuli leading to pancreatic insulin secretion and suppression of glucagon release. GLP-1 further inhibits gastric motility and reduces appetite which in conjunction improves postprandial glucose metabolism. Additional vasoprotective effects have been described for GLP-1 in experimental models. Despite these vasoprotective actions, associations between endogenous levels of GLP-1 and cardiovascular disease have yet not been investigated in humans which was the aim of the present study.
GLP-1 serum levels were assessed in a cohort of 303 patients receiving coronary CT-angiography due to typical or atypical chest pain.
GLP-1 was found to be positively associated with total coronary plaque burden in a fully adjusted model containing age, sex, BMI, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, smoking, triglycerides, LDL-C (low density lipoprotein cholesterol), hsCRP (high-sensitive C-reactive protein), and eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate) (OR: 2.53 (95% CI: 1.12 – 6.08; p = 0.03).
Circulating GLP-1 was found to be positivity associated with coronary atherosclerosis in humans. The clinical relevance of this observation needs further investigations.
PMCID: PMC3765863  PMID: 23953602
GLP-1; Atherosclerosis; Coronary CT angiography
13.  Familial hypercholesterolaemia is underdiagnosed and undertreated in the general population: guidance for clinicians to prevent coronary heart disease  
European Heart Journal  2013;34(45):3478-3490.
The first aim was to critically evaluate the extent to which familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is underdiagnosed and undertreated. The second aim was to provide guidance for screening and treatment of FH, in order to prevent coronary heart disease (CHD).
Methods and results
Of the theoretical estimated prevalence of 1/500 for heterozygous FH, <1% are diagnosed in most countries. Recently, direct screening in a Northern European general population diagnosed approximately 1/200 with heterozygous FH. All reported studies document failure to achieve recommended LDL cholesterol targets in a large proportion of individuals with FH, and up to 13-fold increased risk of CHD. Based on prevalences between 1/500 and 1/200, between 14 and 34 million individuals worldwide have FH. We recommend that children, adults, and families should be screened for FH if a person or family member presents with FH, a plasma cholesterol level in an adult ≥8 mmol/L(≥310 mg/dL) or a child ≥6 mmol/L(≥230 mg/dL), premature CHD, tendon xanthomas, or sudden premature cardiac death. In FH, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol targets are <3.5 mmol/L(<135 mg/dL) for children, <2.5 mmol/L(<100 mg/dL) for adults, and <1.8 mmol/L(<70 mg/dL) for adults with known CHD or diabetes. In addition to lifestyle and dietary counselling, treatment priorities are (i) in children, statins, ezetimibe, and bile acid binding resins, and (ii) in adults, maximal potent statin dose, ezetimibe, and bile acid binding resins. Lipoprotein apheresis can be offered in homozygotes and in treatment-resistant heterozygotes with CHD.
Owing to severe underdiagnosis and undertreatment of FH, there is an urgent worldwide need for diagnostic screening together with early and aggressive treatment of this extremely high-risk condition.
PMCID: PMC3844152  PMID: 23956253
Cholesterol; Low-density lipoprotein; Atherosclerosis; Coronary heart disease; Cardiovascular disease
14.  Effect of sleeve gastrectomy on postprandial lipoprotein metabolism in morbidly obese patients 
Obesity is associated with abnormal fasting and postprandial lipids, which may link obesity with atherosclerosis. We explored fasting and postprandial lipids in morbidly obese patients treated with sleeve gastrectomy and in control subjects.
After fasting for 12 h 15 morbidly obese patients (BMI 51.4±6.5 kg/m2, 43.7±12.6 years) received a standardized oral fat load before and 3 months after bariatric surgery (sleeve gastrectomy). Controls (n=9, BMI 23.1±1.4 kg/m2) were studied once. Plasma was obtained fasting and then postprandially every 2 h for 8 h. Triglycerides (TG), chylomicron-TG (CM-TG), VLDL/chylomicron-remnant (VLDL/CR)-TG, cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, VLDL/CR-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol were isolated by ultracentrifugation at each time point. Postprandial values were expressed as area under the curve (AUC) and incremental area under the curve (iAUC). In addition, fasting glucose and insulin values and HOMA-IR-Index was measured (n=14).
Compared to controls morbidly obese patients had elevated TG and slightly altered postprandial lipids. Following surgery (weight loss 23.4 kg±6.2 kg; p<0.001) fasting TG (−19.1%; p=0.04), VLDL/CR-TG (−20.0%; p=0.05) decreased significantly, while fasting cholesterol, VLDL-, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol did not change. AUC and iAUC decreased significantly for VLDL/CR-TG (−20.4%, p=0.04 and −38.5%, p=0.04, respectively). Neither fasting nor postprandial changes correlated with the change in weight. In patients with preoperatively elevated TG (>150 mg/dl) a similar pattern was observed. Fasting insulin and HOMA were reduced significantly (−51.9%; p=0.004 and −47.9%; p=0.011).
Three months after sleeve gastrectomy fasting and postprandial lipoprotein metabolism and glucose metabolism is improved in morbidly obese patients. The potential mechanisms may relate to decreased caloric intake but also to hormonal changes.
PMCID: PMC3680214  PMID: 23725203
Postprandial lipids; Chylomicron; Chylomicron remnant; Dyslipidemia; VLDL-triglycerides
15.  Cardiac Output Measurements in Septic Patients: Comparing the Accuracy of USCOM to PiCCO 
USCOM is an ultrasound-based method which has been accepted for noninvasive hemodynamic monitoring in various clinical conditions (USCOM, Ultrasonic cardiac output monitoring). The present study aimed at comparing the accuracy of the USCOM device with that of the thermodilution technique in patients with septicemia. We conducted a prospective observational study in a medical but noncardiological ICU of a university hospital. Septic adult patients (median age 55 years, median SAPS-II-Score 43 points) on mechanical ventilation and catecholamine support were monitored with USCOM and PiCCO (n = 70). Seventy paired left-sided CO measurements (transaortic access = COUS-A) were obtained. The mean COUS-A were 6.55 l/min (±2.19) versus COPiCCO 6.5 l/min (±2.18). The correlation coefficient was r = 0.89. Comparison by Bland-Altman analysis revealed a bias of −0.36 l/min (±0.99 l/min) leading to a mean percentage error of 29%. USCOM is a feasible and rapid method to evaluate CO in septic patients. USCOM does reliably represent CO values as compared to the reference technique based on thermodilution (PiCCO). It seems to be appropriate in situations where CO measurements are most pertinent to patient management.
PMCID: PMC3235433  PMID: 22191019
16.  Expression of Human Chemerin Induces Insulin Resistance in the Skeletal Muscle but Does Not Affect Weight, Lipid Levels, and Atherosclerosis in LDL Receptor Knockout Mice on High-Fat Diet 
Diabetes  2010;59(11):2898-2903.
Chemerin is a recently discovered hepatoadipokine that regulates adipocyte differentiation as well as chemotaxis and activation of dendritic cells and macrophages. Chemerin was reported to modulate insulin sensitivity in adipocytes and skeletal muscle cells in vitro and to exacerbate glucose intolerance in several mouse models in vivo. In humans, chemerin was shown to be associated with multiple components of the metabolic syndrome including BMI, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and hypertension. This study aimed to examine the effect of chemerin on weight, glucose and lipid metabolism, as well as atherosclerosis in vivo.
We used recombinant adeno-associated virus to express human chemerin in LDL receptor knockout mice on high-fat diet.
Expression of chemerin did not significantly alter weight, lipid levels, and extent of atherosclerosis. Chemerin, however, significantly increased glucose levels during the intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test without affecting endogenous insulin levels and the insulin tolerance test. Chemerin reduced insulin-stimulated Akt1 phosphorylation and activation of 5′AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the skeletal muscle, but had no effect on Akt phosphorylation and insulin-stimulated AMPK activation in the liver and gonadal adipose tissue.
Chemerin induces insulin resistance in the skeletal muscle in vivo. Chemerin is involved in the cross talk between liver, adipose tissue, and skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC2963549  PMID: 20724582
17.  No non-redundant function of suppressor of cytokine signaling 2 in insulin producing β-cells 
Islets  2010;2(4):252-257.
The members of the Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling (SOCS) protein family mainly modulate the Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) pathway. SOCS-1 and SOCS-3 have already been shown to influence growth and apoptosis of pancreatic β-cells. We hypothesized that SOCS-2, which is expressed in pancreatic islets, also contributes to β-cell physiology. We tested this hypothesis in vivo in SOCS-2−/− knockout mice and in vitro in Ins-1E rat insulinoma cells. We found that SOCS-2−/− mice have normal islet insulin secretion and unchanged glucose and insulin tolerance compared to wildtype controls. SOCS-2−/− are bigger than wildtype mice but body weight-corrected β-cell mass and islet morphology were normal. Growth hormone-induced proliferation of Ins-1E cells was not affected by either siRNA-mediated SOCS-2 knockdown or stable SOCS-2 overexpression. Interleukin-1β mediated cell death in vitro was unchanged after SOCS-2 knockdown. Similarly, autoimmune destruction of β-cells in vivo after multiple low-dose injections of streptozotocin (STZ) was not altered in SOCS-2−/− mice.
In summary, SOCS-2−/− knockout mice have a normal function of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells, a fully adapted β-cell mass and a normal morphology of the endocrine islets. Based on in vitro evidence, the increased β-cell mass in the mutants is likely due to indirect adaptive mechanisms and not the result of altered growth hormone signaling within the β-cells. Immune mediated β-cell destruction is also not affected by SOCS-2 ablation in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3322539  PMID: 21099320
SOCS1; SOCS2; SOCS3; C57Bl/6; α-cell; δ-cell; glucagon; somatostatin; pancreatic polypeptide
18.  Metabolic syndrome predicts vascular changes in whole body magnetic resonance imaging in patients with long standing diabetes mellitus 
Although diabetic patients have an increased rate of cardio-vascular events, there is considerable heterogeneity with respect to cardiovascular risk, requiring new approaches to individual cardiovascular risk factor assessment. In this study we used whole body-MR-angiography (WB-MRA) to assess the degree of atherosclerosis in patients with long-standing diabetes and to determine the association between metabolic syndrome (MetS) and atherosclerotic burden.
Long standing (≥10 years) type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients (n = 59; 31 males; 63.3 ± 1.7 years) were examined by WB-MRA. Based on the findings in each vessel, we developed an overall score representing the patient's vascular atherosclerotic burden (MRI-score). The score's association with components of the MetS was assessed.
The median MRI-score was 1.18 [range: 1.00-2.41] and MetS was present in 58% of the cohort (type 2 diabetics: 73%; type 1 diabetics: 26%). Age (p = 0.0002), HDL-cholesterol (p = 0.016), hypertension (p = 0.0008), nephropathy (p = 0.0093), CHD (p = 0.001) and MetS (p = 0.0011) were significantly associated with the score. Adjusted for age and sex, the score was significantly (p = 0.02) higher in diabetics with MetS (1.450 [1.328-1.572]) compared to those without MetS (1.108 [0.966-1.50]). The number of MetS components was associated with a linear increase in the MRI-score (increase in score: 0.09/MetS component; r2 = 0.24, p = 0.038). Finally, using an established risk algorithm, we found a significant association between MRI-score and 10-year risk for CHD, fatal CHD and stroke.
In this high-risk diabetic population, WB-MRA revealed large heterogeneity in the degree of systemic atherosclerosis. Presence and number of traits of the MetS are associated with the extent of atherosclerotic burden. These results support the perspective that diabetic patients are a heterogeneous population with increased but varying prevalence of atherosclerosis and risk.
PMCID: PMC2936364  PMID: 20804545
19.  Relative roles of the different Pax6 domains for pancreatic alpha cell development 
The transcription factor Pax6 functions in the specification and maintenance of the differentiated cell lineages in the endocrine pancreas. It has two DNA binding domains, the paired domain and the homeodomain, in addition to a C-terminal transactivation domain. The phenotype of Pax6-/- knockout mice suggests non-redundant functions of the transcription factor in the development of glucagon-expressing α-cells as this cell type is absent in the mutants. We ask the question of how the differentiation of pancreatic endocrine cells, in particular that of α-cells, is affected by selective inactivation of either one of the three major domains of Pax6.
The Pax6Aey18 mutant mouse line, in which the paired domain is inactivated, showed a phenotype similar to that of Pax6-/- knockout mice with a near complete absence of glucagon-positive α-cells (0-4 cells/section; ≤1% of wt), reduced β-cell area (74% of wt) and disorganized islets. The proportion of ghrelin-positive ε-cells was expanded. In Pax6Sey-Neu mutants, which lack the transactivation domain, α-and β-cells where reduced to 25 and 40% of wt, respectively. We also studied two mouse lines with mutations in the homeodomain, Pax64Neu and Pax6132-14Neu. Neighboring amino acids are affected in the two lines and both point mutations abolish DNA binding of the classical P3 homeodomain target sequence. The pancreatic phenotype of the two mutants however was divergent. While Pax64Neu homozygotes showed a reduction of α- and β-cells to 59 and 61%, respectively, pancreatic endocrine development was unaltered in the Pax6132-14Neu mutant strain.
We show that inactivation of the Pax6 paired domain leads to a more severe phenotype with regards to the differentiation of pancreatic α-cells than the loss of the transactivation domain. The analysis of two different homeodomain mutants suggests that the binding of Pax6 to P3 homeodomain consensus sequences is not required for α-cell development. It rather seems that the homeodomain has a modulating role in Pax6 function, possibly by facilitating a PH0-like binding confirmation on paired domain target genes like proglucagon. This function is differentially affected by the two homeodomain mutations analyzed in this study.
PMCID: PMC2858030  PMID: 20377917
20.  MMP-1 serum levels predict coronary atherosclerosis in humans 
Myocardial infarction results as a consequence of atherosclerotic plaque rupture, with plaque stability largely depending on the lesion forming extracellular matrix components. Lipid enriched non-calcified lesions are considered more instable and rupture prone than calcified lesions. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are extracellular matrix degrading enzymes with plaque destabilisating characteristics which have been implicated in atherogenesis. We therefore hypothesised MMP-1 and MMP-9 serum levels to be associated with non-calcified lesions as determined by CT-angiography in patients with coronary artery disease.
260 patients with typical or atypical chest pain underwent dual-source multi-slice CT-angiography (0.6-mm collimation, 330-ms gantry rotation time) to exclude coronary artery stenosis. Atherosclerotic plaques were classified as calcified, mixed or non-calcified.
In multivariable regession analysis, MMP-1 serum levels were associated with total plaque burden (OR: 1.37 (CI: 1.02-1.85); p < 0.05) in a model adjusted for age, sex, BMI, classical cardiovascular risk factors, hsCRP, adiponectin, pericardial fat volume and medication. Specification of plaque morphology revealed significant association of MMP-1 serum levels with non-calcified plaques (OR: 1.16 (CI: 1.0-1.34); p = 0.05) and calcified plaques (OR: 1.22 (CI: 1,03-1.45); p < 0.05) while association with mixed plaques was lost in the fully adjusted model. No associations were found between MMP9 serum levels and total plaque burden or plaque morphology.
MMP-1 serum levels are associated with total plaque burden but do not allow a specification of plaque morphology.
PMCID: PMC2754422  PMID: 19751510
21.  Low Adiponectin Levels Are an Independent Predictor of Mixed and Non-Calcified Coronary Atherosclerotic Plaques 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4733.
Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of coronary artery disease (CAD). There is increasing recognition that lesion composition rather than size determines the acute complications of atherosclerotic disease. Low serum adiponectin levels were reported to be associated with coronary artery disease and future incidence of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). The impact of adiponectin on lesion composition still remains to be determined.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We measured serum adiponectin levels in 303 patients with stable typical or atypical chest pain, who underwent dual-source multi-slice CT-angiography to exclude coronary artery stenosis. Atherosclerotic plaques were classified as calcified, mixed or non-calcified. In bivariate analysis adiponectin levels were inversely correlated with total coronary plaque burden (r = −0.21, p = 0.0004), mixed (r = −0.20, p = 0.0007) and non-calcified plaques (r = −0.18, p = 0.003). No correlation was seen with calcified plaques (r = −0.05, p = 0.39). In a fully adjusted multivariate model adiponectin levels remained predictive of total plaque burden (estimate: −0.036, 95%CI: −0.052 to −0.020, p<0.0001), mixed (estimate: −0.087, 95%CI: −0.132 to −0.042, p = 0.0001) and non-calcified plaques (estimate: −0.076, 95%CI: −0.115 to −0.038, p = 0.0001). Adiponectin levels were not associated with calcified plaques (estimate: −0.021, 95% CI: −0.043 to −0.001, p = 0.06). Since the majority of coronary plaques was calcified, adiponectin levels account for only 3% of the variability in total plaque number. In contrast, adiponectin accounts for approximately 20% of the variability in mixed and non-calcified plaque burden.
Adiponectin levels predict mixed and non-calcified coronary atherosclerotic plaque burden. Low adiponectin levels may contribute to coronary plaque vulnerability and may thus play a role in the pathophysiology of ACS.
PMCID: PMC2649379  PMID: 19266101
22.  Serum concentrations of cortisol, interleukin 6, leptin and adiponectin predict stress induced insulin resistance in acute inflammatory reactions 
Critical Care  2008;12(6):R157.
Inflammatory stimuli are causative for insulin resistance in obesity as well as in acute inflammatory reactions. Ongoing research has identified a variety of secreted proteins that are released from immune cells and adipocytes as mediators of insulin resistance; however, knowledge about their relevance for acute inflammatory insulin resistance remains limited. In this study we aimed for a clarification of the relevance of different insulin resistance mediating factors in an acute inflammatory situation.
Insulin resistance was measured in a cohort of 37 non-diabetic patients undergoing cardiac surgery by assessment of insulin requirement to maintain euglycaemia and repeated measurements of an insulin glycaemic index. The kinetics of cortisol, interleukin 6 (IL6), tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα), resistin, leptin and adiponectin were assessed by repeated measurements in a period of 48 h.
Insulin resistance increased during the observation period and peaked 22 h after the beginning of the operation. IL6 and TNFα displayed an early increase with peak concentrations at the 4-h time point. Serum levels of cortisol, resistin and leptin increased more slowly and peaked at the 22-h time point, while adiponectin declined, reaching a base at the 22-h time point. Model assessment identified cortisol as the best predictor of insulin resistance, followed by IL6, leptin and adiponectin. No additional information was gained by modelling for TNFα, resistin, catecholamine infusion rate, sex, age, body mass index (BMI), operation time or medication.
Serum cortisol levels are the best predictor for inflammatory insulin resistance followed by IL6, leptin and adiponectin. TNFα, and resistin have minor relevance as predictors of stress dependent insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC2646322  PMID: 19087258
23.  Adipokines and Insulin Resistance 
Molecular Medicine  2008;14(11-12):741-751.
Obesity is associated with an array of health problems in adult and pediatric populations. Understanding the pathogenesis of obesity and its metabolic sequelae has advanced rapidly over the past decades. Adipose tissue represents an active endocrine organ that, in addition to regulating fat mass and nutrient homeostasis, releases a large number of bioactive mediators (adipokines) that signal to organs of metabolic importance including brain, liver, skeletal muscle, and the immune system—thereby modulating hemostasis, blood pressure, lipid and glucose metabolism, inflammation, and atherosclerosis. In the present review, we summarize current data on the effect of the adipose tissue-derived hormones adiponectin, chemerin, leptin, omentin, resistin, retinol binding protein 4, tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6, vaspin, and visfatin on insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC2582855  PMID: 19009016
24.  Effect of the angiotensin receptor blocker irbesartan on metabolic parameters in clinical practice: the DO-IT prospective observational study 
A number of intervention studies have shown that therapy with angiotensin receptor blockers, such as irbesartan, can improve metabolic parameters and reduce the incidence of diabetes mellitus. It is unknown whether this observation also holds true in routine clinical settings.
We evaluated the effect of irbesartan (150 mg or 300 mg/d) together with or without hydrochlorothiazide (12.5 mg/d) in 3259 German patients. A total of 750 primary care physicians evaluated up to 5 subsequent patients with metabolic syndrome (58.9% diabetic), in whom irbesartan therapy was newly initiated (87%) or continued (13%).
Six months of irbesartan therapy decreased systolic blood pressure by 14% (157.4 ± 14.7 vs. 135.0 ± 10.7 mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure by 13% (92.9 ± 9.2 vs. 80.8 ± 6.8 mmHg). This was associated with a decrease in body weight (-2.3%), fasting glucose (-9.5%), HbA1c (-4.6%), LDL-cholesterol (-11%), triglycerides (-16%) and gamma-GT (-12%) and an increase in HDL-cholesterol (+5%). These changes were somewhat more pronounced in male than in female patients and in obese than in lean patients. Changes in glucose concentration and HbA1c were much more prominent in diabetic patients.
Irbesartan therapy improves metabolic parameters in routine clinical settings. Thus, our study confirms previously published results from large intervention trials and extends the findings to routine clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC2211461  PMID: 18042288
25.  Genetic variants of adiponectin receptor 2 are associated with increased adiponectin levels and decreased triglyceride/VLDL levels in patients with metabolic syndrome 
Adiponectin acts as an antidiabetic, antiinflammatory and antiatherogenic adipokine. These effects are assumed to be mediated by the recently discovered adiponectin receptors AdipoR1 and AdipoR2.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether variations in the AdipoR1 and AdipoR2 genes may contribute to insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and inflammation.
We sequenced all seven coding exons of both genes in 20 unrelated German subjects with metabolic syndrome and tested genetic variants for association with glucose, lipid and inflammatory parameters.
We identified three AdipoR2 variants (+795G/A, +870C/A and +963C/T) in perfect linkage disequilibrium (r2 = 1) with a minor allele frequency of 0.125. This haplotype was associated with higher plasma adiponectin levels and decreased fasting triglyceride, VLDL-triglyceride and VLDL-cholesterol levels. No association, however, was observed between the AdipoR2 SNP cluster and glucose metabolism.
To our knowledge, this is the first study to identify an association between genetic variants of the adiponectin receptor genes and plasma adiponectin levels. Furthermore, our data suggest that AdipoR2 may play an important role in triglyceride/VLDL metabolism.
PMCID: PMC1482678  PMID: 16700915

Results 1-25 (27)