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1.  A multinodular goiter as the initial presentation of a renal cell carcinoma harbouring a novel VHL mutation 
Background
Secondary involvement of the thyroid gland is rare. Often the origin of the tumor is difficult to identify from the material obtained by fine-needle aspiration cytology. Renal cell carcinoma of the clear-cell type is one of the more common carcinomas to metastasize to the thyroid gland. Somatic mutations of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene are associated with the sporadic form of this tumor. We aimed to illustrate the potential utility of DNA based technologies to search for specific molecular markers in order to establish the anatomic site of origin.
Case Presentation
A 54-yr-old Caucasian male complaining of a rapidly increasing neck tumor was diagnosed as having a clear-cell tumor by fine-needle aspiration cytology. A positive staining for cytokeratin as well as for vimentin and CD10 in the absence of staining for thyroglobulin, calcitonin and TTF1 suggested a renal origin confirmed by computed tomography.
Using frozen RNA, obtained from cells left inside the needle used for fine needle aspiration cytology, it was possible to identify a somatic mutation (680 delA) in the VHL gene.
Conclusion
In the presence of a clear-cell tumor of the thyroid gland, screening for somatic mutations in the VHL gene in material derived from thyroid aspirates might provide additional information to immunocytochemical studies and therefore plays a contributory role to establish the final diagnosis. Moreover, in a near future, this piece of information might be useful to define a targeted therapy.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-6-6
PMCID: PMC1634746  PMID: 17067398
2.  Understanding and meeting the needs of those using growth hormone injection devices 
Background
Recombinant human growth hormone (r-hGH) is used to treat: growth hormone deficiency in children and adults; children born small for gestational age; Turner's syndrome; and chronic renal failure. r-hGH is administered by daily subcutaneous injection and may be given using a number of different administration devices. The aim of this survey was, firstly, to identify which attributes of an r-hGH administration device are considered most important to physicians, teenage patients, parents of young children requiring GH and nurses who have experience of r-hGH administration, and, secondly, to determine how they rate existing devices in each of these key attributes.
Methods
The opinions of 67 individuals with experience in r-hGH administration were captured in discussion sessions. Parents, physicians and nurses were asked to rate 19 device attributes by completing a questionnaire, and to rank four different r-hGH administration devices (including a conceptual electronic device) in order of preference.
Results
Reliability, ease of use, lack of pain during injection, safety in use, storage, and number of steps in preparation before use, during use and after were considered to be the five most desirable attributes of an r-hGH administration device. An electronic device was preferred to an automatic, multi-dose injection device, a needle-free injection device or a manual, ready-to-use, disposable injection device.
Conclusion
In the opinion of physicians, nurses and parents using r-hGH injection devices, an ideal device must combine reliability with simplicity, while delivering treatment with minimal pain. An electronic device, which combines many of the most useful features of existing devices with novel functions, was the preferred option for r-hGH administration.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-6-5
PMCID: PMC1618831  PMID: 17034628
3.  Insulin versus oral agents in the management of Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes: a case based study 
Background
Insulin is the recommend therapeutic agent of choice for the management of Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes (CFRD), despite only sub-optimal reductions in glycemic control and increased morbidity and mortality reported by centers using this agent. The newer insulin sensitizing agents demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory mechanisms may provide an alternative management option for CFRD.
Methods
A prospective case based therapeutic comparison between insulin, sulfonylurea, metformin and thiazolidinedione was observed over one decade with 20 CFRD patients diagnosed using American Diabetes Association guideline standards. Patients entering the study elected treatment based on risk and benefit information provided for treatment options. Patients receiving organ transplant or requiring combination diabetic medications were excluded from the study.
Results
No statistical advantage was achieved regarding overall glycemic control for oral agents over insulin. Additional outcome measures including changes in weight, liver function testing and FEV1 were not statistically significant.
Conclusion
Insulin alone may not be the only therapeutic option in managing CFRD. Oral hypoglycemic agents were equally effective in treating CFRD and may provide an alternative class of agents for patients reluctant in using insulin.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-6-4
PMCID: PMC1513574  PMID: 16790062
4.  Reversible hypothyroidism and Whipple's disease 
Background
The major cause of primary hypothyroidism is autoimmune mediated with progressive and permanent destruction of the thyroid gland resulting in life-long replacement therapy. Treatable and reversible hypothyroidism is unusual and here forth is such a case due to infection of the thyroid gland with Tropheryma whippleii, Whipple disease.
Case presentation
A 45 year-old female presented with symptoms and signs consistent with primary hypothyroidism, which was also confirmed biochemically. Her response to thyroxine replacement therapy was poor however, requiring a significantly elevated amount. Further investigation revealed the presence of Whipple's disease involving the gastrointestinal trace and possibly the thyroid gland. Her thyroxine requirement decreased drastically following appropriate antimicrobial therapy for Whipple's disease to the extent that it was ceased. Thyrotropin releasing hormone testing in the steady state suggested there was diminished thyroid reserve due to Whipple's disease.
Conclusion
This is the first ante-mortem case report studying the possible involvement of the thyroid gland by Whipple's disease. Despite the normalization of her thyroid function test biochemically after antibiotic therapy, there is diminished thyroid reserve thus requiring close and regular monitoring.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-6-3
PMCID: PMC1468402  PMID: 16684360
5.  Neurocognitive function in children with compensated hypothyroidism: lack of short term effects on or off thyroxin 
Background
Although thyroxin therapy clearly is beneficial to children with frank hypothyroidism there is little data on the effects of thyroxin in children with compensated or subclinical hypothyroidism. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of thyroxin therapy on cognitive function in children with compensated hypothyroidism. The hypothesis was that thyroxin therapy would change neuropsychological function.
Methods
Eleven patients with a history of sub clinical hypothyroidism entered the study. At the start of the study, six out of the 11 were on thyroxin therapy, while 5 were off therapy. All patients underwent a battery of neuropsychological testing and thyroid function tests at the start of study. Based on the results of thyroid function tests, two of the 5 patients who were off thyroxin were started back on thyroxin. All of the 6 patients who were on thyroxin were taken off thyroxin. All patients then underwent repeat neuropsychological testing and thyroid functions after an average of 91 days.
Results
Thyroxin therapy could not be shown to have an effect on neuropsychological function in this short term study. Our patients had attention problems as compared to the normal population. No significant differences were found between our subjects and normal population standards in verbal processing, visual processing, motor speed/coordination and achievement.
Conclusion
In this small, short term study, thyroxin therapy could not be shown to affect neuropsychological function in children with compensated hypothyroidism. These children may have attention problems but appear to have normal verbal and visual processing, motor speed/coordination and achievement.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-6-2
PMCID: PMC1435757  PMID: 16549027
6.  Echocardiographic assessment of subclinical left ventricular eccentric hypertrophy in adult-onset GHD patients by geometric remodeling: an observational case-control study 
Background
Most patients with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) show high body mass index. Overweight subjects, but GHD patients, were demonstrated to have high left ventricular mass index (LVMi) and abnormal LV geometric remodeling. We sought to study these characteristics in a group of GHD patients, in an attempt to establish the BMI-independent role of GHD.
Methods
Fifty-four patients, 28 F and 26 M, aged 45.9 ± 13.1, with adult-onset GHD (pituitary adenomas 48.2%, empty sella 27.8%, pituitary inflammation 5.5%, cranio-pharyngioma 3.7%, not identified pathogenesis 14.8%) were enrolled. To minimize any possible interferences of BMI on the aim of this study, the control group included 20 age- and weight-matched healthy subjects. The LV geometry was identified by the relationship between LVMi (cut-off 125 g/m2) and relative wall thickness (cut-off 0.45) at echocardiography.
Results
There was no significant between-group difference in resting cardiac morphology and function, nor when considering age-related discrepancy. The majority of patients had normal-low LVM/LVMi, but about one fourth of them showed higher values. These findings correlated to relatively high circulating IGF-1 and systolic blood pressure at rest. The main LV geometric pattern was eccentric hypertrophy in 22% of GHD population (26% of with severe GHD) and in 15% of controls (p = NS).
Conclusion
Though the lack of significant differences in resting LV morphology and function, about 25% of GHD patients showed high LVMi (consisting of eccentric hypertrophy), not dissimilarly to overweight controls. This finding, which prognostic role is well known in obese and hypertensive patients, is worthy to be investigated in GHD patients through wider controlled trials.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-6-1
PMCID: PMC1483822  PMID: 16507109

Results 1-6 (6)