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Scientists have discovered a potential biological reason why women are more likely to develop adrenal disorders, including cancer. According to the researchers, the answer could lie in the increased turnover of hormone-producing cells found in the adrenal glands of females. The adrenal gland is a hormone producing organ that sits on top of the kidneys. The outer part, or cortex, is responsible for the production of several hormones, including the stress-related hormone cortisol and the blood pressure controlling aldosterone. Adrenal cancer is relatively rare but occurs approximately three times more in women than in men. The cellular basis for this difference has not been investigated in detail but uncovering it might lead to sex-specific treatments and has huge implications for many areas of research. Dr Andreas Schedl, from INSERM, France, who led the study said: To our surprise we found that adrenal cells in female mice show a much more rapid turnover compared to males, which we could trace back to a different behaviour of adrenal stem cells between the two sexes. Furthermore, we could show that the observed differences are due to hormones that are produced by testes that suppress cell division, thus slowing down renewal in the male adrenal." The scientists studied the adrenal cortex of male and female adult mice and found that female mice replace their entire set of hormone-producing cells within 3 months, while it takes male mice an entire 9 months. Using different techniques to label cells within the adrenal cortex, they established that females not only have a higher proliferation rate of cells, but also recruit stem cells from a different part of the adrenal gland. The research has wide reaching implications, as it demonstrates the basic mechanism underlying the increased turnover of cells within the adrenal gland, providing a possible explanation for the increased incidence of adrenal disorders in women. Dr Schedl explained: "It is early days and many more experiments will need to be performed before our research can directly benefit patients. However, we believe that our study teaches a number of important lessons that are of immediate relevance to scientists, pharmacologists and clinicians." This research might lead to sex-specific treatment options for diseases like adrenal cancer and, according to Dr Schedl, could have implications on a far wider field of disorders: "Importantly, while our study concentrated on the adrenals, we are convinced that similar differences may also be found in other organ systems." Dr Helen Rippon, Chief Executive of the charity Worldwide Cancer Research, whose supporters helped fund the study, said: "Sex differences are not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about cancer research or treatments. But this study has shown that it is crucial to consider potential differences between male and female when trying to understand the basis of cancer biology. Most importantly, these findings could have implications for treatment options further down the line and highlight the importance of early-stage, discovery research. We are delighted to fund this kind of research, as we believe that these innovative approaches are ultimately going to lead to a world where no life is cut short by cancer." Worldwide Cancer Research, La Ligue Contre le Cancer and the ANR supported this research. The research was published in Cell Stem Cell. Source: Worldwide Cancer Research Journal reference: Grabek, A. et al. (2019) The Adult Adrenal Cortex Undergoes Rapid Tissue Renewal in a Sex-Specific Manner. Cell Stem Cell. doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2019.04.012. From https://www.news-medical.net/news/20190522/Scientists-discover-biological-reason-why-women-are-more-likely-to-develop-adrenal-disorders.aspx
Even after successful treatment, patients with Cushing’s disease who were older when diagnosed or had prolonged exposure to excess cortisol face a greater risk of dying or developing cardiovascular disease, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). Cushing’s disease is a rare condition where the body is exposed to excess cortisol – a stress hormone produced in the adrenal gland – for long periods of time. Researchers have long known that patients who have Cushing’s disease are at greater risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease than the average person. This study examined whether the risk could be eliminated or reduced when the disease is controlled. Researchers found that these risk factors remained long after patients were exposed to excess cortisol. “The longer patients with Cushing’s disease are exposed to excess cortisol and the older they are when diagnosed, the more likely they are to experience these challenges,” said Eliza B. Geer, MD, of Mount Sinai Medical Center and lead author of the study. “The findings demonstrate just how critical it is for Cushing’s disease to be diagnosed and treated quickly. Patients also need long-term follow-up care to help them achieve good outcomes.” The study found cured Cushing’s disease patients who had depression when they started to experience symptoms of the disease had an elevated risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease. Men were more at risk than women, a trend that may be explained by a lack of follow-up care, according to the study. In addition, patients who had both Cushing’s syndrome and diabetes were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. The study examined one of the largest cohorts of Cushing’s disease patients operated on by a single surgeon. The researchers retrospectively reviewed charts for 346 Cushing’s disease patients who were treated between 1980 and 2011. Researchers estimated the duration of exposure to excess cortisol by calculating how long symptoms lasted before the patient went into remission. The patients who were studied had an average exposure period of 40 months. The findings may have implications for people who take steroid medications, Geer said. People treated with high doses of steroid medications such as prednisone, hydrocortisone or dexamethasone are exposed to high levels of cortisol and may experience similar conditions as Cushing’s disease patients. “While steroid medications are useful for treating patients with a variety of conditions, the data suggests health care providers need to be aware that older patients or those who take steroid medications for long periods could be facing higher risk,” Geer said. “These patients should be monitored carefully while more study is done in this area.” From http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/256284.php