Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Mar 2009


The effects of growth hormone and sex steroid on lean body mass, fat mass, muscle strength, cardiovascular endurance and adverse events in healthy elderly women and men.

Decreases in growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor I occur with age, in addition to oestrogen deficiency in women and a reduction in the levels of testosterone in men. These age-related hormonal changes may contribute to reductions in lean body mass, muscle strength and cardiac endurance, which can be partially reversed in elderly people with GH treatment, and testosterone supplements and oestrogen/progestin hormone replacement therapy in men and women, respectively. These treatments are, however, thought to have potentially serious adverse effects. We conducted a study to evaluate the separate and interactive effects of GH and sex steroids on body composition, muscle strength and cardiac endurance as well as the rate of adverse events in healthy elderly people. The results of the study showed that although there were beneficial effects with GH and sex steroid treatment, a high percentage of adverse effects occurred after 26 weeks of treatment, demonstrating a need for more research on the safety of hormonal therapy in the elderly population.

Horm Res. 2003;60(Suppl 1):121-4

Use of growth hormone for prevention or treatment of effects of aging.

Decreases in growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor-I, estrogen deficiency in women, diminished testosterone in men, and loss of lean body mass, increased fat, and other changes consistent with hormone deficiencies occur during aging. Treatment of nonelderly GH-deficient adults with recombinant human GH (rhGH) improves body composition, muscle strength, physical function, and bone density, and reduces blood cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk, but is often accompanied by carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral edema, joint pain and swelling, gynecomastia, glucose intolerance, and possibly increased cancer risk. Reports that rhGH augments lean body mass and reduces body fat in aged individuals increased use of rhGH to delay aging effects. However, clinically significant functional benefits, prolongation of youth, and life extension have not been demonstrated. Moreover, marketing of rhGH and other hormone supplements largely ignores adverse effects. Until more research has better defined the risk/benefit relationships, treatment of elderly individuals with rhGH should be confined to controlled research studies.

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2004 Jul;59(7):652-8

Evaluation and treatment of adult growth hormone deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline.

OBJECTIVE: The objective is to provide guidelines for the evaluation and treatment of adults with GH deficiency (GHD). PARTICIPANTS: The chair of the Task Force was selected by the Clinical Guidelines Subcommittee of The Endocrine Society (TES). The chair selected five other endocrinologists and a medical writer, who were approved by the Council. One closed meeting of the group was held. There was no corporate funding, and members of the group received no remuneration. EVIDENCE: Only fully published, peer-reviewed literature was reviewed. The Grades of Evidence used are outlined in the Appendix. CONSENSUS PROCESS: Consensus was achieved through one group meeting and e-mailing of drafts that were written by the group with grammatical/style help from the medical writer. Drafts were reviewed successively by the Clinical Guidelines Subcommittee, the Clinical Affairs Committee, and TES Council, and a version was placed on the TES web site for comments. At each level, the writing group incorporated needed changes. CONCLUSIONS: GHD can persist from childhood or be newly acquired. Confirmation through stimulation testing is usually required unless there is a proven genetic/structural lesion persistent from childhood. GH therapy offers benefits in body composition, exercise capacity, skeletal integrity, and quality of life measures and is most likely to benefit those patients who have more severe GHD. The risks of GH treatment are low. GH dosing regimens should be individualized. The final decision to treat adults with GHD requires thoughtful clinical judgment with a careful evaluation of the benefits and risks specific to the individual.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 May;91(5):1621-34

Aging and the growth hormone/insulin like growth factor-I axis.

Growth hormone release and IGF-I synthesis decrease with increasing age. The regulation of the GH/IGF-I system is dependent on the integrity of the hypothalamus, pituitary and liver. During aging there are several changes which contribute to the decline in GH/IGF-I including changes in signal to the somatotrophs from growth hormone releasing hormone, somatostatin and other factors such as body composition, exercise, diet and sleep. All of these factors are discussed in detail within this review. The phenotypic similarities between aging and adult growth hormone deficiency syndrome combined with this decrease in GH/IGF-I with aging have prompted the question whether aging is a GH deficient state. The advent of recombinant growth hormone has led to a number of studies treating elderly patients with GH alone or in combination with sex steroids or exercise. The results of these studies would not back up the use of GH in elderly non-hypopituitary patients as they did not show efficacy, showed high rates of adverse events and there is also some evidence associating GH/IGF-I and risk of neoplasia. If GH therapy is to be used in this cohort of patients further long term efficacy and safety studies are required.

Pituitary. 2007;10(2):189-203

Systematic review: the safety and efficacy of growth hormone in the healthy elderly.

BACKGROUND: Human growth hormone (GH) is widely used as an antiaging therapy, although its use for this purpose has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its distribution as an antiaging agent is illegal in the United States. PURPOSE: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of GH therapy in the healthy elderly. DATA SOURCES: The authors searched MEDLINE and EMBASE databases for English-language studies published through 21 November 2005 by using such terms as growth hormone and aging. STUDY SELECTION: The authors included randomized, controlled trials that compared GH therapy with no GH therapy or GH and lifestyle interventions (exercise with or without diet) with lifestyle interventions alone. Included trials provided GH for 2 weeks or more to community-dwelling participants with a mean age of 50 years or more and a body mass index of 35 kg/m2 or less. The authors excluded studies that evaluated GH as treatment for a specific illness. DATA EXTRACTION: Two authors independently reviewed articles and abstracted data. DATA SYNTHESIS: 31 articles describing 18 unique study populations met the inclusion criteria. A total of 220 participants who received GH (107 person-years) completed their respective studies. Study participants were elderly (mean age, 69 years [SD, 6]) and overweight (mean body mass index, 28 kg/m2 [SD, 2]). Initial daily GH dose (mean, 14 microg per kg of body weight [SD, 7]) and treatment duration (mean, 27 weeks [SD, 16]) varied. In participants treated with GH compared with those not treated with GH, overall fat mass decreased (change in fat mass, -2.1 kg [95% CI, -2.8 to -1.35] and overall lean body mass increased (change in lean body mass, 2.1 kg [CI, 1.3 to 2.9]) (P < 0.001), and their weight did not change significantly (change in weight, 0.1 kg [CI, -0.7 to 0.8]; P = 0.87). Total cholesterol levels decreased (change in cholesterol, -0.29 mmol/L [-11.21 mg/dL]; P = 0.006), although not significantly after adjustment for body composition changes. Other outcomes, including bone density and other serum lipid levels, did not change. Persons treated with GH were significantly more likely to experience soft tissue edema, arthralgias, carpal tunnel syndrome, and gynecomastia and were somewhat more likely to experience the onset of diabetes mellitus and impaired fasting glucose. LIMITATIONS: Some important outcomes were infrequently or heterogeneously measured and could not be synthesized. Most included studies had small sample sizes. CONCLUSIONS: The literature published on randomized, controlled trials evaluating GH therapy in the healthy elderly is limited but suggests that it is associated with small changes in body composition and increased rates of adverse events. On the basis of this evidence, GH cannot be recommended as an antiaging therapy.

Ann Intern Med. 2007 Jan 16;146(2):104-15

Growth hormone treatment in human ageing: benefits and risks.

This paper will focus on the rationale of using Growth Hormone (GH) as an anti-ageing therapy in the healthy elderly with age-related decline in the activity of the GH/IGF-I axis, the so called “somatopause”. Although the age-related decline in the activity of the GH/IGF-I axis is considered to contribute to age-related changes similar to those observed in Growth Hormone Deficient (GHD) adults, GH/IGF-I deficiency or resistance is also known to result in prolonged life expectancy, at least in animals. These data raise the question whether or not GH deficiency constitutes a beneficial adaptation to ageing and therefore requires no therapy. Moreover, although GH therapy has been shown to exert positive effects in GHD patients, its safety, efficacy and role in healthy elderly individuals is highly controversial. This review provides a comprehensive account of the implications of GH therapy in the ageing subject.

Hormones (Athens). 2008 Apr-Jun;7(2):133-9

Growth hormone status in morbidly obese subjects and correlation with body composition.

Morbidly obese subjects are characterized by multiple endocrine abnormalities and these are paralleled by unfavorable changes in body composition. In obese individuals, either 24-h spontaneous or stimulated GH secretion is impaired without an organic pituitary disease and the severity of the secretory defect is proportional to the degree of obesity. The GHRH+arginine (GHRH+ARG) test is likely to be the overall test of choice in clinical practice to differentiate GH deficiency (GHD) patients. Similarly to other provocative tests, GHRH+ARG is influenced by obesity per se. Therefore, a new cut-off limit of peak GH response of 4.2 microg/l in obese subjects has been recently assumed. The aim of the present study was to investigate the reciprocal influence between decreased GH secretion and body composition in a group of 110 morbidly obese subjects, using the new cut-off limit of peak GH response to GHRH+ARG test for these subjects. In our study, GHD was identified in 27.3% of the obese subjects, without gender difference. In GDH obese subjects body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), fat mass (FM), and resistance (R) were higher while reactance (Xc), phase angle, body cell mass (BCM), IGF-I, or IGF-I z-scores were lower than in normal responders (p<0.001). In all obese subjects, GH peak levels showed a negative correlation with age, BMI, waist circumference and FM, and a positive correlation with IGF-I. In the stepwise multiple linear regression, waist circumference and FM were the major determinants of GH peak levels and IGF-I. In conclusion, using the new cut-off limit of peak GH response to GHRH+ARG test for obese subjects, about 1/3 morbidly obese subjects were GHD. GHD subjects showed a significantly different body composition compared with normal responders, and the secretory defect was correlated to different anthropometric variables with waist circumference and FM as the major determinants.

J Endocrinol Invest. 2006 Jun;29(6):536-43

Adult-onset growth hormone deficiency: causes, complications and treatment options.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Desc-ription of the progresses related to the complications and treatment of adult-onset growth hormone deficiency. RECENT FINDINGS: Growth hormone deficiency in adults has gained attention as a clinical syndrome associated with increased morbidity and possibly mortality. Many studies have been conducted on the consequences of growth hormone deficiency and of its replacement, supporting its use in appropriate patients. Early studies were characterized by a high incidence of side effects due to a lack of pilot data to guide appropriate dosing. Given the wide variability in individual responsiveness to growth hormone therapy based on age, sex, and body composition, recent work has been dedicated to understanding which patients derive benefit from therapy, minimizing side effects, and ensuring cost-effectiveness. SUMMARY: Long-term prospective trials have shown that growth hormone replacement therapy results in improvements in body composition, dyslipidemia, bone mineral density, and quality of life. The effects on endpoints such as cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and fractures are, however, not fully proven. Randomized trials that compare homogenous groups of growth hormone deficiency patients are still needed. Given the high cost of treatment, dynamic testing for growth hormone deficiency should only be performed in patients in whom there is high clinical suspicion, and therapy should be limited to those with biochemically proven growth hormone deficiency.

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2008 Aug;15(4):352-8

Growth hormone decreases visceral fat and improves cardiovascular risk markers in women with hypopituitarism: a randomized, placebo-controlled study.

CONTEXT: Data regarding gender-specific efficacy of GH on critical endpoints are lacking. There are no randomized, placebo-controlled studies of physiological GH therapy solely in women. OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to determine the effects of physiological GH replacement on cardiovascular risk markers and body composition in women with GH deficiency (GHD). DESIGN: This was a 6-month, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. SETTING: The study was conducted at the General Clinical Research Center. STUDY PARTICIPANTS: 43 women with GHD due to hypopituitarism were included in the study. INTERVENTION: Study participants were randomized to receive GH (goal mid-normal serum IGF-1) or placebo. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Cardiovascular risk markers, including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, tissue plasminogen activator, and body composition, including visceral adipose tissue by cross-sectional computed tomography, were measured. RESULTS: Mean daily GH dose was 0.67 mg. The mean IGF-1 sd score increased from -2.5 +/- 0.3 to -1.4 +/- 0.9 (GH) (P < 0.0001 vs. placebo). High-sensitivity C-reactive protein decreased by 38.2 +/- 9.6% (GH) vs.18.2 +/- 6.0% (placebo) (P = 0.03). Tissue plasminogen activator and total cholesterol decreased, and high-density lipoprotein increased. Homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance and other markers were unchanged. Body fat decreased [-5.1 +/- 2.0 (GH) vs. 1.9 +/- 1.0% (placebo); P = 0.002] as did visceral adipose tissue [-9.0 +/- 5.9 (GH) vs. 4.3 +/- 2.7% (placebo); P = 0.03]. Change in IGF-1 level was inversely associated with percent change in visceral adipose tissue (r = -0.61; P = 0.002), total body fat (r = -0.69; P < 0.0001), and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (r = -0.51; P = 0.003). CONCLUSIONS: Low-dose GH replacement in women with GHD decreased total and visceral adipose tissue and improved cardiovascular markers, with a relatively modest increase in IGF-1 levels and without worsening insulin resistance.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jun;93(6):2063-71

Recombinant human GH replacement increases CD34+ cells and improves endothelial function in adults with GH deficiency.

OBJECTIVE: Adult patients with GH deficiency (GHD) are at increased risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Endothelial function, vascular stiffness, and loss of circulating CD34+ cells are considered biomarkers for cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to assess vascular structure and function in relation to circulating CD34+ cells in adults with GHD before and during 1 year of recombinant human GH (rhGH) replacement. DESIGN: One-year intervention with rhGH. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Vascular function (flow-mediated dilatation (FMD)) and structure (pulse wave velocity (PWV) and analysis) were assessed in 14 adult patients (nine men) with GHD (mean age 57 years, range 27-71 years). In addition, the number of CD34+ cells was evaluated using flow cytometric analysis. Study parameters were analyzed at baseline, and after 6 months and 1 year of rhGH replacement. RESULTS: rhGH replacement increased IGF-I levels from 10.4+/-4.5 mmol/l at baseline to 18.4+/-10.1 mmol/l, and 20.5+/-8.0 mmol/l, at 6 months, and 1 year respectively (P=0.001). FMD increased from 3.5+/-1.8% to 6.0+/-2.5% and 5.1+/-2.5% during 1 year of rhGH replacement (P=0.008). There was no beneficial effect on PWV, central pulse pressure, central systolic pressure, and augmentation index. The number of CD34+ cells increased from 794.9+/-798.8 to 1270.7+/-580.1 cells/ml and to 1356.9+/-759.0 cells/ml (P=0.010). CONCLUSION: One year of rhGH replacement in adults with GHD improves endothelial function and increases the number of circulating CD34+ cells.

Eur J Endocrinol. 2008 Aug;159(2):105-11

Bone density and turnover in young adult patients with growth hormone deficiency after 2-year growth hormone replacement according with gender.

GH deficiency (GHD) in adults is accompanied by reduced bone mass that may revert only after 2 yr of GH replacement. However, it is unclear whether the gender may modify bone responsiveness to GH replacement in adults. In this study we have evaluated whether bone mineral density (BMD) and turnover improve after GH replacement according to patients’ gender. BMD at lumbar spine (LS) and femoral neck (FN), serum osteocalcin (OC), and urinary cross-linked N-telopeptides of type I collagen (Ntx) were assessed in 64 hypopituitaric patients (35 men, 30-50 yr) before and 2 yr after the beginning of GH replacement. Values of IGF-I and BMD at LS and at FN were expressed as Zscores. At study entry, IGF-I and BMD resulted similar among men and women with GHD. During GH replacement, IGF-I levels increased in both men and women without any difference in the percentage of IGF-I increase between the genders (p=0.47). In women receiving estrogen replacement, however, the percentage of IGF-I increase (p<0.05), and the Z IGF-I score (p<0.001) were significant lower than estrogen untreated women, although IGF-I levels were similar in the 2 groups (p=0.53). The GH dose adjusted for body weight required to restore normal age- and sex- matched IGF-I levels was lower in men than in women (p<0.001), and was higher in women receiving than in those not receiving estrogen replacement (p<0.05). In contrast, hypogonadal men treated with testosterone and eugonadal men received a similar GH dose (p=0.97). Also OC, Ntx levels, lumbar and femoral BMD improved (p<0.001) in all patients. Nevertheless, a greater increase in lumbar BMD increase was observed in men than in women (8.0+/-2.1 vs 2.6+/-0.4%; p<0.05). No significant difference was revealed in bone parameters in women treated or untreated with estrogen replacement and in men treated or not with testosterone replacement for concomitant hypogonadism. At the multiple correlation analysis, gender was a stronger predictor for the required GH dose than the age (p<0.001 and p=0.02, respectively). In conclusion, a 2-yr GH replacement normalizes IGF-I levels, increases bone mass and improves bone turnover both in men and in women with GHD without any difference between the 2 groups, provided that the dose of GH was modulated on the basis of IGF-I levels. Women receiving oral estrogens should receive a GH dose approximately doubled, as compared to men and women not receiving oral estrogens, to achieve similar effects on bone density and turnover. In particular, GH replacement dose, to be successful on bone mass and turnover, depends on gender in hypopituitary patients aged below 50 yr.

J Endocrinol Invest. 2008 Feb;31(2):94-102

Growth hormone treatment of adults with Prader-Willi syndrome and growth hormone deficiency improves lean body mass, fractional body fat, and serum triiodothyronine without glucose impairment: results from the United States multicenter trial.

CONTEXT: GH replacement in Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) children has well-defined benefits and risks and is used extensively worldwide. Its use in PWS adults has been limited by documentation of benefits and risks, as determined by larger multisite studies. OBJECTIVES: Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of GH in GH-deficient genotype-positive PWS adults. DESIGN: We conducted a 12-month open-label multicenter trial with 6-month dose-optimization and 6-month stable treatment periods. Setting: The study was conducted at outpatient treatment facilities at four U.S. academic medical centers. PATIENTS: Lean and obese PWS adults with diverse cognitive skills, behavioral traits, and living arrangements were recruited from clinical populations. INTERVENTION: Human recombinant GH (Genotropin) was initiated at 0.2 mg/d with monthly 0.2-mg increments to a maximum 1.0 mg/d, as tolerated. MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURES: Lean body mass and percent fat were measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. RESULTS: Lean body mass increased from 42.65 +/- 2.25 (se) to 45.47 +/- 2.31 kg (P < or = 0.0001), and percent fat decreased from 42.84 +/- 1.12 to 39.95 +/- 1.34% (P = 0.025) at a median final dose of 0.6 mg/d in 30 study subjects who completed 6-12 months of GH. Mean fasting glucose of 85.3 +/- 3.4 mg/dl, hemoglobin A1c of 5.5 +/- 0.2%, fasting insulin of 5.3 +/- 0.6 microU/ml, area under the curve for insulin of 60.4 +/- 7.5 microU/ml, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance of 1.1 +/- 0.2 were normal at baseline in 38 study initiators, including five diabetics, and remained in normal range. Total T(3) increased 26.7% from 127.0 +/- 7.8 to 150.5 +/- 7.8 ng/dl (P = 0.021) with normalization in all subjects, including six (20%) with baseline T(3) values at least 2 sd below the mean. Mildly progressive ankle edema was the most serious treatment-emergent adverse event (five patients). CONCLUSIONS: This multicenter study demonstrates that GH improves body composition, normalizes T(3), and is well tolerated without glucose impairment in PWS genotype adults.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Apr;93(4):1238-45

GH replacement reduces increased lipid peroxidation in GH-deficient adults.

BACKGROUND: GH replacement improves numerous metabolic abnormalities in GH-deficient patients; increased lipid peroxidation (LPO) has been observed in GH-deficient patients; however, it is unknown if LPO is influenced by GH replacement. AIM AND METHODS: To evaluate the extent to which GH replacement might reverse the increased LPO in GH-deficient adults and to analyse if this phenomenon might be involved in the improvement of metabolic disturbances due to GH treatment. Serum concentrations of malondialdehyde + 4-hydroxyalkenals (MDA + 4-HDA), as an index of LPO, were measured at baseline, and after 12 and 24 months of GH replacement in 40 adult patients with severe GH deficiency (both in adult- and childhood-onset) and in 40 healthy volunteers, matched for sex, age and body mass index (BMI). Correlations were evaluated between LPO and lipids, IGF-I, metalloproteinase-2 and -9 (MMP-2, -9), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), BMI and GH dose. RESULTS: LPO values in GH-deficient patients were several-fold higher than in controls [55.36 +/- 2.27 vs. 4.19 +/- 0.42 nmol/mg protein (mean +/- SEM), P < 0.0001] and decreased significantly over time with GH replacement to 38.61 +/- 2.15 nmol/mg protein (i.e. by approximately 30%), though still remaining markedly elevated compared with controls (P < 0.0001). The proatherogenic lipid profile parameters correlated positively with LPO in the childhood-onset subgroup before GH replacement. GH replacement restored the positive correlation between LPO and age in male patients (r = 0.57, P = 0.013; r = 0.8, P < 0.001, at 12 and 24 months of GH replacement, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: GH replacement partially reverses the grossly abnormal LPO in GH-deficient adults. It is highly probable, therefore, that oxidative mechanisms are involved in the overall improvement of metabolic changes due to GH replacement.

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2008 Jun;68(6):957-64

Systematic review: the effects of growth hormone on athletic performance.

BACKGROUND: Human growth hormone is reportedly used to enhance athletic performance, although its safety and efficacy for this purpose are poorly understood. PURPOSE: To evaluate evidence about the effects of growth hormone on athletic performance in physically fit, young individuals. DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, and Cochrane Collaboration databases were searched for English-language studies published between January 1966 and October 2007. STUDY SELECTION: Randomized, controlled trials that compared growth hormone treatment with no growth hormone treatment in community-dwelling healthy participants between 13 and 45 years of age. DATA EXTRACTION: 2 authors independently reviewed articles and abstracted data. DATA SYNTHESIS: 44 articles describing 27 study samples met inclusion criteria; 303 participants received growth hormone, representing 13.3 person-years of treatment. Participants were young (mean age, 27 years [SD, 3]), lean (mean body mass index, 24 kg/m2 [SD, 2]), and physically fit (mean maximum oxygen uptake, 51 mL/kg of body weight per minute [SD, 8]). Growth hormone dosage (mean, 36 microg/kg per day [SD, 21]) and treatment duration (mean, 20 days [SD, 18] for studies giving growth hormone for >1 day) varied. Lean body mass increased in growth hormone recipients compared with participants who did not receive growth hormone (increase, 2.1 kg [95% CI, 1.3 to 2.9 kg]), but strength and exercise capacity did not seem to improve. Lactate levels during exercise were statistically significantly higher in 2 of 3 studies that evaluated this outcome. Growth hormone-treated participants more frequently experienced soft tissue edema and fatigue than did those not treated with growth hormone. LIMITATIONS: Few studies evaluated athletic performance. Growth hormone protocols in the studies may not reflect real-world doses and regimens. CONCLUSION: Claims that growth hormone enhances physical performance are not supported by the scientific literature. Although the limited available evidence suggests that growth hormone increases lean body mass, it may not improve strength; in addition, it may worsen exercise capacity and increase adverse events. More research is needed to conclusively determine the effects of growth hormone on athletic performance.

Ann Intern Med. 2008 May 20;148(10):747-58

Use of amino acids as growth hormone-releasing agents by athletes.

Specific amino acids, such as arginine, lysine and ornithine, can stimulate growth hormone (GH) release when infused intravenously or administered orally. Many individuals consume amino acids before strength training workouts, believing this practice accentuates the exercise-induced GH release, thereby promoting greater gains in muscle mass and strength. The GH response to amino acid administration has a high degree of interindividual variability and may be altered by training status, sex, age, and diet. Although parenteral administration consistently leads to increased circulating GH concentration, oral doses that are great enough to induce significant GH release are likely to cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea. During exercise, intensity is a major determinant of GH release. Although one study showed that arginine infusion can heighten the GH response to exercise, no studies found that pre-exercise oral amino acid supplementation augments GH release. Further, no appropriately conducted scientific studies found that oral supplementation with amino acids, which are capable of inducing GH release, before strength training increases muscle mass and strength to a greater extent than strength training alone. The use of specific amino acids to stimulate GH release by athletes is not recommended.

Nutrition. 2002 Jul-Aug;18(7-8):657-61

Growth hormone administration and exercise effects on muscle fiber type and diameter in moderately frail older people.

OBJECTIVE: Reduced muscle mass and strength are characteristic findings of growth hormone deficiency (GHD) and aging. We evaluated measures of muscle strength, muscle fiber type, and cross sectional area in response to treatment with recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) with or without a structured resistance exercise program in frail older subjects. DESIGN: Placebo-controlled, randomized, double blind trial. SETTING: Outpatient clinical research center at an urban university-affiliated teaching hospital. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-one consenting older subjects (mean age 71.3 +/- 4.5 years) recruited as a subset of a larger project evaluating rhGH and exercise in older people, who underwent 62 quadricep-muscle biopsies. INTERVENTION: Random assignment to a 6-month course of one of four protocols: rhGH administered subcutaneously daily at bedtime, rhGH and a structured resistance exercise program, structured resistance exercise with placebo injections, or placebo injections only. MEASUREMENTS: Muscle biopsy specimens were obtained from the vastus lateralis muscle. Isokinetic dynamometry strength tests were used to monitor individual progress and to adjust the weights used in the exercise program. Serum insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) was measured and body composition was measured using a Hologic QDR 1000W dual X-ray densitometer. RESULTS: The administration of rhGH resulted in significant increase in circulating IGF-I levels in the individuals receiving rhGH treatment. Muscle strength increased significantly in both the rhGH/exercise (+55.6%, P =.0004) as well as the exercise alone (+47.8%, P =.0005) groups. There was a significant increase in the proportion of type 2 fibers between baseline and six months in the combined rhGH treated subjects versus those not receiving rhGH (P =.027). CONCLUSIONS: Our results are encouraging in that they suggest an effect of growth hormone on a specific aging-correlated deficit. IGF-I was increased by administrating rhGH and muscle strength was increased by exercise. The administration of rhGH to frail older individuals in this study resulted in significant changes in the proportions of fiber types. Whether changes in fiber cross-sectional area or absolute number occur with long-term growth hormone administration requires further study.

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001 Jul;49(7):852-8

GH administration changes myosin heavy chain isoforms in skeletal muscle but does not augment muscle strength or hypertrophy, either alone or combined with resistance exercise training in healthy elderly men.

GH administration, either alone or combined with resistance exercise training (RT), has attracted interest as a means of increasing muscle mass and strength in the elderly. In the present study, 31 healthy, elderly men [age, 74 +/- 1 yr (mean +/- SEM)] were assigned to either RT [3 sessions/wk, 3-5 sets of 8-12 repetition maximum (RM)/session] + placebo (n = 8), RT + GH (n = 8), GH (n = 8), or placebo (n = 7) in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded (RT + placebo and RT + GH) or single-blinded (GH or placebo) design. Measurements of: 1) isokinetic quadriceps muscle strength; 2) quadriceps muscle power; 3) quadriceps muscle fiber type, size, and myosin heavy chain (MHC) composition; 4) quadriceps cross-sectional area (CSA) [nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI)]; 5) body composition (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scanning); and 6) GH-related serum markers were performed at baseline and after 12 wk. The final GH dose was 1.77 +/- 0.18 IU x d(-1) (approximately 7.2 +/- 0.8 microg x kg(-1) x d(-1)). GH alone had no effect on isokinetic quadriceps muscle strength, power, CSA, or fiber size. However, a substantial increase in MHC 2X isoform was observed with GH administration alone, and this may be regarded as a change into a more youthful MHC composition, possibly induced by the rejuvenating of systemic IGF-I levels. RT + placebo caused substantial increases in quadriceps isokinetic strength, power, and CSA; but these RT induced improvements were not further augmented by additional GH administration. In the RT + GH group, there was a significant decrease in MHC 1 and 2X isoforms, whereas MHC 2A increased. RT, therefore, seems to overrule the changes in MHC composition induced by GH administration alone. Changes in body composition confirmed previous reports of decreased fat mass, increased fat-free mass, and unchanged bone mineral content with GH administration. A high incidence of side effects was reported. Our results do not support a role for GH as a means of increasing muscle strength or mass, either alone or combined with RT, in healthy elderly men; although GH administration alone may induce changes in MHC composition.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Feb;87(2):513-23

Maintaining cognitive health in an ageing society.

A significant concern associated with growing old is the loss of cognitive function, resulting in dementia. Fortunately, the current research on ageing indicates that cognitive decline is not an inevitable function of the ageing process. Moreover, individuals can take steps to maintain cognitive health throughout life. This paper reviews the research findings and recommendations for maintaining cognitive health that were presented at a meeting sponsored by the Alliance for Health and the Future in November 2003. The meeting, ‘Placing Cognitive Health on Europe’s Social and Economic Agenda’, reviewed the current state of knowledge about cognitive health and discussed its implications for an ageing Europe. Although the brain, for reasons that remain unclear, changes with age, a growing body of research suggests that social engagement, intellectual stimulation, and physical activity play a key role in maintaining cognitive health and preventing cognitive decline. As the number of older people increases and people live longer, developing and implementing strategies for maintaining cognitive health should be a priority for both individuals and societies.

J R Soc Health. 2004 May;124(3):119-21

Effect of lyophilised Vaccinium berries on memory, anxiety and locomotion in adult rats.

Epidemiological studies suggest that diets with a high intake of vegetables and fruits may reduce the incidence of degenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. Berries are some of the popular fruits consumed worldwide. They are considered to be rich in anthocyanin pigments, a group belonging to the flavonoids, a widespread class of phenolic compounds. Anthocyanins have notorious pharmacological properties, and have been used in humans for therapeutic purposes. The present experiments were performed to study the possible effects of prolonged administration of lyophilised Vaccinium berries (blueberry, bilberry) on cognitive performance using step-down inhibitory avoidance, open field, elevated plus-maze, and radial maze tasks. During this experiment the rats consumed approximately 3.2 mg kg(-1)day (oral), of the anthocyanins. The lyophilised berries were administered for 30 days before first training. The present study showed that lyophilised berries significantly enhanced short-term memory, but not long-term memory in the inhibitory avoidance task, and induced an increase in the number of crossings in the first exposure to the open field. However, treated rats did not present any improvement of memory retention in open field habituation. Additionally, prolonged treatment with lyophilised berries did not have any significant effects in the elevated plus-maze task. Another interesting finding was that lyophilised berries improved working memory in the radial maze, with significant differences observed during sessions 1-2 and 4, but did not alter reference memory in this task. These results suggest that lyophilised berries may be beneficial in the prevention of memory deficits, one of the symptoms related to AD, and corroborate previous findings showing that flavonoids present effects in several learning paradigms.

Pharmacol Res. 2005 Dec;52(6):457-62

The putative role of free radicals in the loss of neuronal functioning in senescence.

One of the hallmarks of the aging process is a loss of sensitivity in central neuronal receptors to agonist stimulation. This appears to be especially true in central (hippocampal, striatal) muscarinic cholinergic systems and in the striatal dopamine systems. For these two systems, any decline in their sensitivity can be of extreme importance in determining the behavioral capabilities of the organism. Decrements in the striatal dopamine system may be reflected as motor behavioral deficits, while the central cholinergic systems play a major role in the processing of memory through the activation of muscarinic receptors (mAChR). Declines in the function of these receptors appear to be at least partially responsible for the marked deterioration of cognitive function in normal aging and, more notably, in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Previous work has indicated only minimal success in improving performance in tasks that assess memory in senescent animals or humans with pharmacological agents which enhance cholinergic functioning. The present review describes research that indicates that two of the factors involved in this decline in receptor sensitivity include: (a) decreased receptor concentrations and (b) age-related decrements in signal transduction pathways. Studies are reviewed that indicate that the oxidative neural damage that occurs via kainic acid or ionizing radiation parallel those seen in aging. It is suggested that the common mechanism that may exist among all of the age-, disease-, excitatory amino acid- or radiation-induced deficits in neuronal transmission may involve free-radical-mediated alterations in membrane integrity through lipid peroxidation.

Integr Physiol Behav Sci. 1992 Jul-Sep;27(3):216-27

Reversals of age-related declines in neuronal signal transduction, cognitive, and motor behavioral deficits with blueberry, spinach, or strawberry dietary supplementation.

Ample research indicates that age-related neuronal-behavioral decrements are the result of oxidative stress that may be ameliorated by antioxidants. Our previous study had shown that rats given dietary supplements of fruit and vegetable extracts with high antioxidant activity for 8 months beginning at 6 months of age retarded age-related declines in neuronal and cognitive function. The present study showed that such supplements (strawberry, spinach, or blueberry at 14.8, 9.1, or 18.6 gm of dried aqueous extract per kilogram of diet, respectively) fed for 8 weeks to 19-month-old Fischer 344 rats were also effective in reversing age-related deficits in several neuronal and behavioral parameters including: oxotremorine enhancement of K(+)-evoked release of dopamine from striatal slices, carbachol-stimulated GTPase activity, striatal Ca(45) buffering in striatal synaptosomes, motor behavioral performance on the rod walking and accelerod tasks, and Morris water maze performance. These findings suggest that, in addition to their known beneficial effects on cancer and heart disease, phytochemicals present in antioxidant-rich foods may be beneficial in reversing the course of neuronal and behavioral aging.

J Neurosci. 1999 Sep 15;19(18):8114-21

Modulation of hippocampal plasticity and cognitive behavior by short-term blueberry supplementation in aged rats.

During aging, reductions in hippocampal neurogenesis are associated with memory decline indicating a causal relationship. Indeed, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a major activator of the extracellular receptor kinase pathway that is central in learning and memory processes, is also a key modulator of hippocampal neurogenesis. Previously, we showed that age-related declines in spatial memory tasks can be improved by antioxidant-rich diets containing blueberries. In this study, to begin to understand the mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of blueberries, we assessed changes in hippocampal plasticity parameters such as hippocampal neurogenesis, extracellular receptor kinase activation, and IGF-1 and IGF-1R levels in blueberry-supplemented aged animals. Our results show that all these parameters of hippocampal neuronal plasticity are increased in supplemented animals and aspects such as proliferation, extracellular receptor kinase activation and IGF-1 and IGF-1R levels correlate with improvements in spatial memory. Therefore, cognitive improvements afforded by polyphenolic-rich fruits such as blueberries appear, in part, to be mediated by their effects on hippocampal plasticity.

Nutr Neurosci. 2004 Oct-Dec;7(5-6):309-16

Investigation of the effect of vinpocetine on cerebral blood flow and cognitive functions

INTRODUCTION: Vinpocetine has been widely used in the treatment of ischaemic cerebrovascular diseases and dementias of vascular type. Chronic cerebral hypoperfusion plays an important role in the development of certain types of dementia. In consequence of complex mode of action vinpocetine plays a significant role in the improvement of cerebral hypoperfusion. The symptoms of mild cognitive impairment considered as “predementia” are similar to those of dementia, although milder. AIMS: The authors investigated the characteristics of the blood flow parameters of patients with ischemic stroke and mild cognitive impairment both in resting conditions or following chemical stimulus as well as they investigated the severity of mental deterioration in the two patient groups. In a pilot study the authors examined the influence of 12-week long oral vinpocetine therapy on the blood flow parameters and cognitive functions in the two patient groups. METHODS: The authors studied the blood flow velocity of a. cerebri media in resting conditions and after 30 sec of breath holding with transcranial Doppler before treatment and after a 12-week long oral vinpocetine treatment. At the same time psychometric tests (MMSE, ADAS-Cog) were used in order to examine cognitive functions, while the general condition of the patients were scored by Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale. RESULTS: After a 12-week long oral vinpocetine treatment the increase of blood flow velocity in resting conditions compared to the baseline values was significant in the vascular group. The percent increase of mean velocity after the breath holding TCD test showed a significant increase compared to the baseline in both patient groups. The authors found a significant improvement of cognitive functions after a 12-week long oral vinpocetine therapy using psychometric tests. The improvement was identical in both groups. The general condition of patients improved significantly according to both the investigator’s and the patients’ opinion; patients with mild cognitive impairment judged the improvement higher. CONCLUSIONS: Vinpocetine improved the cerebrovascular reserve capacity in both patient groups and favourably influenced the cognitive status and general condition of patients with chronic hypoperfusion. The authors recommend the use of vinpocetine for the treatment of patients with mild cognitive impairment.

Ideggyogy Sz. 2007 Jul 30;60(7-8):301-10

Improvement of short-term memory performance in aged beagles by a nutraceutical supplement containing phosphatidylserine, Ginkgo biloba, vitamin E, and pyridoxine.

Aged dogs demonstrate cognitive decline that is linked to brain aging. The purpose of the present study was to examine if a commercially available nutraceutical supplement that may be neuroprotective and contains phosphatidylserine, Ginkgo biloba, vitamin E, and pyridoxine could improve cognitive function in aged beagles. Nine aged beagles were tested on performance on a delayed-non-matching-to-position task, which is a neuropsychological test of short-term visuospatial memory. All subjects were tested on 5 baseline sessions; then, to assess the supplement, a crossover design was used in which 1 group received the supplement and the other a control substance in the 1st phase, with treatment conditions being reversed in the 2nd phase. Performance accuracy was significantly improved in supplemented dogs compared with control dogs and the effect was long lasting. These findings suggest that the nutraceutical supplement can improve memory in aged dogs.

Can Vet J. 2008 Apr;49(4):379-85

Influence of phosphatidylserine on cognitive performance and cortical activity after induced stress.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of phosphatidylserine (PS) on cognition and cortical activity after mental stress. After familiarization, 16 healthy subjects completed cognitive tasks after induced stress in a test-re-test design (T1 and T2). Directly after T1, subjects were assigned double-blind to either PS or placebo groups followed by T2 after 42 days. At T1 and T2, cortical activity was measured at baseline and immediately after stress with cognitive tasks using electro-encephalography (EEG). EEG was recorded at 17 electrode positions and fast Fourier transforms (FFT) determined power at Theta, Alpha-1, Alpha-2, Beta-1 and Beta-2. Statistics were calculated using ANOVA (group x trial x time). The main finding of the study was that chronic supplementation of phosphatidylserine significantly decreases Beta-1 power in right hemispheric frontal brain regions (F8; P < 0.05) before and after induced stress. The results for Beta-1 power in the PS group were connected to a more relaxed state compared to the controls.

Nutr Neurosci. 2008 Jun;11(3):103-10

Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults.

This study was designed to assess the olfactory impact of the essential oils of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and rosemary (Rosmarlnus officinalis) on cognitive performance and mood in healthy volunteers. One hundred and forty-four participants were randomly assigned to one of three independent groups, and subsequently performed the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) computerized cognitive assessment battery in a cubicle containing either one of the two odors or no odor (control). Visual analogue mood questionnaires were completed prior to exposure to the odor, and subsequently after completion of the test battery. The participants were deceived as to the genuine aim of the study until the completion of testing to prevent expectancy effects from possibly influencing the data. The outcome variables from the nine tasks that constitute the CDR core battery feed into six factors that represent different aspects of cognitive functioning. Analysis of performance revealed that lavender produced a significant decrement in performance of working memory, and impaired reaction times for both memory and attention based tasks compared to controls. In contrast, rosemary produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors, but also produced an impairment of speed of memory compared to controls. With regard to mood, comparisons of the change in ratings from baseline to post-test revealed that following the completion of the cognitive assessment battery, both the control and lavender groups were significantly less alert than the rosemary condition; however, the control group was significantly less content than both rosemary and lavender conditions. These findings indicate that the olfactory properties of these essential oils can produce objective effects on cognitive performance, as well as subjective effects on mood.

Int J Neurosci. 2003 Jan;113(1):15-38

Clinical and non-clinical investigations using positron emission tomography, near infrared spectroscopy and transcranial Doppler methods on the neuroprotective drug vinpocetine: a summary of evidences.

Vinpocetine (Cavinton, Gedeon Richter, Budapest) is widely used as a neuroprotective drug in the prevention and treatment of cerebrovascular diseases. Vinpocetine is a potent inhibitor of the voltage-dependent Na(+) channels and a selective inhibitor of the Ca(2+)/caldmoduline-dependent phosphodiesterase 1. The clinical efficacy has been supported by several previous studies. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a powerful method to evaluate the fate, the site of action, the pharmacological and physiological effects of a drug in the brain and other organs. We have demonstrated in monkey that the [11C]-labelled vinpocetine rapidly enters the brain after intravenous (i.v.) injection, the maximal uptake being approximately 5% of the total injected radioactivity. The distribution pattern of vinpocetine in the brain was heterogenous, with the highest uptake in the thalamus, basal ganglia and visual cortex. These findings were confirmed in healthy humans, where the i.v. administered [11C]-labelled vinpocetine had a similar distribution pattern. The highest uptake in the brain was 3.71% of the total administered radioactivity. Quite recently, we have shown that [11C]-labelled vinpocetine administered orally to healthy human volunteers also rapidly appears in the brain and shows a similar distribution pattern, the highest uptake being 0.71% of the total administered radioactivity. In two separate sets of clinical studies where chronic ischaemic post-stroke patients were either treated with a single infusion (Study 1) or with daily vinpocetine infusion for 2 weeks (Study 2), we have shown that vinpocetine increases the regional cerebral glucose uptake and to a certain extent glucose metabolism in the so-called peri-stroke region as well as in the relatively intact brain tissue. The 2-week-long treatment also increased the regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) especially in the thalamus, basal ganglia and visual cortex of the nonsymptomatic hemisphere. We have demonstrated the cerebral perfusion-enhancing and parenchymal oxygen extraction-increasing effects of vinpocetine in subacute ischaemic stroke patients by near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and transcranial Doppler (TCD) methods.

J Neurol Sci. 2002 Nov 15;203-204:259-62

Choline alphoscerate in cognitive decline and in acute cerebrovascular disease: an analysis of published clinical data.

This paper has reviewed the documentation on the clinical efficacy of choline alphoscerate, a cholinergic precursor, considered as a centrally acting parasympathomimetic drug in dementia disorders and in acute cerebrovascular disease. Thirteen published clinical trials, examining in total 4054 patients, have evaluated the use of choline alphoscerate in various forms of dementia disorders of degenerative, vascular or combined origin, such as senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (SDAT) or vascular dementia (VaD) and in acute cerebrovascular diseases, such as transitory ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke. Analysis has assessed the design of each study, in particular with respect to experimental design, number of cases, duration of treatment and tests used to evaluate drug clinical efficacy. Most of the ten studies performed in dementia disorders were controlled trials versus a reference drug or placebo. Overall, 1570 patients were assessed in these studies, 854 of which in controlled trials. As detected by validated and appropriate tests, such as Mini Mental State Evaluation (MMSE) in SDAT and Sandoz Clinical Assessment Geriatric (SCAG) in VaD, administration of choline alphoscerate significantly improved patient clinical condition. Clinical results obtained with choline alphoscerate were superior or equivalent to those observed in control groups under active treatment and superior to the results observed in placebo groups. Analysis stresses the clear internal consistency of clinical data gathered by different experimental situations on the drug effect, especially with regard to the cognitive symptoms (memory, attention) characterising the clinical picture of adult-onset dementia disorders. The therapeutic usefulness of choline alphoscerate in relieving cognitive symptoms of chronic cerebral deterioration differentiates this drug from cholinergic precursors used in the past, such as choline and lecithin. Three uncontrolled trials were performed with choline alphoscerate in acute cerebrovascular stroke and TIA, totalling 2484 patients. The results of these trials suggest that this drug might favour functional recovery of patients with cerebral stroke and should be confirmed in future investigations aimed at establish the efficacy of the drug in achieving functional recovery of patients with acute cerebrovascular disease.

Mech Ageing Dev. 2001 Nov;122(16):2041-55

The potential of nanoparticle-enhanced imaging.

Accurate lymph node staging in genitourinary malignancy is an important component in the diagnostic algorithm and therapeutic planning. A promising new method for lymph node staging is lymphotrophic nanoparticle enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. This novel technique uses ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide particles, which localize in lymph nodes and provide detailed characterization of these nodes independent of typically accepted size criteria. This review provides a brief overview of the presently accepted methods for noninvasive lymph node staging and thoroughly discusses lymphotrophic nanoparticle enhanced MR imaging: a technique that can be used for accurate detection of lymph node metastases and will likely play a major role in noninvasive lymph node staging in genitourinary cancer in the near future.

Urol Oncol. 2008 Jan-Feb;26(1):65-73

Colorectal carcinoma: selected issues in pathologic examination and staging and determination of prognostic factors.

CONTEXT: Colorectal carcinoma is one of the most common types of cancer in Western countries and is consistently ranked among the top 3 causes of cancer-related deaths, with approximately 150 000 new cases in the United States and 55 000 deaths in 2006. The pathologist’s assessment of tumor stage and stage-independent morphologic features, such as vascular/lymphatic invasion, influences treatment strategies for the individual patient, such as the decision to offer adjuvant therapy after surgery. However, although the pathologist influences clinical care in colorectal cancer, certain aspects of staging and evaluation of prognostic factors remain challenging and confusing. OBJECTIVES: To present the currently used colorectal cancer staging system; to address challenging areas in pathologic staging, including T category considerations and recommendations for the minimum number of lymph nodes sampled; and to discuss assessment of selected stage-independent prognostic factors, such as vascular/ lymphatic invasion. DATA SOURCES: This review is based on the current staging manual from the American Joint Committee on Cancer, the College of American Pathologists Protocol for Examination of Specimens From Patients With Primary Carcinomas of the Colon and Rectum, and selected articles pertaining to colorectal carcinoma staging and prognostic factors accessible through Ovid Medline (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Md). CONCLUSIONS: Proper assessment of pathologic staging for colorectal cancer and of morphologic prognostic factors requires a thorough understanding of staging guidelines and careful specimen dissection and sampling.

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2008 Oct;132(10):1600-7

Risk factors and clinical outcomes of patients with node-positive muscle-invasive bladder cancer.

Radical cystectomy and lymphadenectomy is a standard treatment for patients with high-grade, invasive bladder cancer. Although the absolute limits of lymphadectomy at the time of surgery have not been precisely defined, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that an extended lymph node dissection may be beneficial for staging and survival in both node-negative and -positive bladder cancer patients. For lymph node-positive patients, several prognostic factors have been identified to provide risk stratification and direct the need for adjuvant treatment. These include: the pathological stage of the bladder tumor, extent of the lymphadenectomy and nodal tumor burden. The concept of lymph node density has also been identified as a prognostic factor. The literature and data on the extent of lymphadenectomy will be reviewed as well as the current prognostic variables and the benefits of adjuvant chemotherapy.

Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2008 Jul;8(7):1091-101

Prognostic factors in patients with carcinoma of the vulva—our own experience and literature review.

AIM OF THE STUDY: The objective was the analysis of prognostic factors and treatment outcomes of 104 patients with vulvar cancer, treated between 1990 and 2003 in the Center of Oncology, Maria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Institute, Cracow, Poland. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The median age of patients was 67. Advanced disease (TNM III and IVA) was found in 54 (51.9%) patients and grade 2 and 2 in 50 (48.1%). Inguinal lymph nodes were clinically uni- or bilaterally involved in 40.4% of patients. Fifty-seven (54.8%) patients underwent radical vulvectomy with bilateral inguinal lymphadenectomy and 47 (45.2%) radical vulvectomy only. Cancer differentiation was well in 38 (36.2%) of patients, moderate in 38 (36.2%) and poor in 28 (36.6%). Adjuvant radiotherapy was applied in 30 (28.8%) cases. RESULTS: Five-year overall survival rate was observed in 44.4% of patients. Depending on TNM grade, 5-year OS rates were 61.4% for grade 1, 54.9% for grade 2, 40.1% for grade 3 and 13.3% for IVA. In patients aged < 70, 5-year OS rate was 54.7% compared to 30.5% for those > or = 70. Among patients with G1 cancer differentiation 64.4% survived five years, with G2 39.1% and with G3 24.9%, respectively. CONCLUSION: Univariate analysis revealed a statistically significant, unfavorable impact of age > or = 70, with G3 cancer differentiation, clinically confirmed inguinal lymph node involvement and TNM classification stage on 5-year overall survival. Cox multivariate analysis demonstrated that independent prognostic factors for 5-year survival were the age of the patient, clinical status of inguinal lymph nodes and TNM classification grade.

Eur J Gynaecol Oncol. 2008;29(3):260-3

Clinical evidence of breast cancer micrometastasis in the era of sentinel node biopsy.

Sentinel node biopsy for early-stage breast cancer has been established as an excellent surgical and staging procedure developed to enhance the detection of minimal lymph node involvement such as micrometastases. Multisection and the proper use of immunohistochemical staining have led to the increased detection of micrometastases, and this has given rise to new questions about the treatment to be employed concerning micrometastasis. That is whether complete axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) and adjuvant systemic therapy are really required for patients with micrometastasis because of the low prevalence of nonsentinel lymph node metastasis. Some currently published case studies report that selected patients with micrometastases without further ALND would not suffer from a high incidence of regional recurrence. However, the long-term prognostic risk of systemic recurrence and local failure associated with residual axillary disease in the sentinel lymph node-positive patient electing for no further axillary surgery has not been defined. Numerous studies have investigated the impact of occult metastases, which may be regarded as micrometastases or a small tumor deposit. Although data from randomized controlled trials are lacking, these studies suggest that the prognosis of breast cancer patients with micrometastases should not be considered the same as that in truly node-negative patients. Patients with micrometastases should have some adjuvant systemic therapy. Ongoing randomized trials will provide prospective answers to the question of the optimal treatment for micrometastasis.

Int J Clin Oncol. 2008 Feb;13(1):24-32

Sentinel node biopsy: interpretation and management of patients with immunohistochemistry-positive sentinel nodes and those with micrometastases.

The sentinel node procedure is an adequate tool to identify lymph node metastasis in breast cancer. Sentinel nodes are generally examined with greater attention mainly to exclude, as reliably as possible, lymph node metastasis. To achieve this, many protocols are used, resulting in different rates of micrometastasis or isolated tumor cells encountered. Since the prognostic significance of isolated tumor cells or micrometastasis in the sentinel nodes, and the risk of further axillary lymph node involvement in patients with isolated tumor cells, is uncertain and at most limited, these findings may pose difficulties for clinicians in clinical decision making. Protocols that identify lymph node metastasis, from which the clinical relevance is known, are warranted. Unnecessary lymph node dissections should be avoided.

J Clin Oncol. 2008 Feb 10;26(5):698-702

Prostate cancer evaluated with ferumoxtran-10-enhanced T2*-weighted MR Imaging at 1.5 and 3.0 T: early experience.

PURPOSE: To prospectively evaluate the feasibility of ferumoxtran-10-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) imaging at high magnetic field strength (3.0 T) and to compare image quality between 1.5- and 3.0-T MR imaging in terms of lymph node detection in patients with prostate cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study was institutional review board approved, and all patients gave written informed consent. Forty-eight consecutive patients aged 51-79 years (mean, 65.5 years) with prostate cancer were enrolled. T2*-weighted 1.5- and 3.0-T MR images of the pelvis were acquired in a sagittal plane parallel to the psoas muscle 24 hours after ferumoxtran-10 administration. A pelvic and body phased-array coil was used and yielded an in-plane resolution of 0.56 x 0.56 x 3.00 mm at 1.5 T and 0.50 x 0.50 x 2.50 mm at 3.0 T. All images were evaluated by three readers for total image quality, lymph node border delineation, muscle-fat contrast, and vessel-fat contrast. Statistical significance was calculated by using the Mann-Whitney U test. Subsequently, the general linear mixed model was used to estimate the contributions of three factors-patient, reader, and technique-to the variability of the imaging results. RESULTS: Significantly (P < .05) better muscle-fat contrast, vessel-fat contrast, lymph node border delineation, and total image quality were observed at 3.0-T MR imaging. The general linear mixed model revealed that the variability of all results could be attributed to the use of 3.0-T imaging. CONCLUSION: Ferumoxtran-10-enhanced MR imaging can be performed at high magnetic field strengths and result in improved image quality, which may lead to improved detection of small positive lymph nodes. (c) RSNA, 2006.

Radiology. 2006 May;239(2):481-7

Rectal cancer staging.

Endorectal-US is the most suitable imaging technique in the initial staging of rectal cancer and it is mostly accurate in evaluating early stages and in demonstrating the perirectal spread of cancer tissue. CT is not able to demonstrate the layers of the rectal wall and its accuracy in demonstrating the invasion of muscolaris propria and perirectal fat is lower than other techniques, so its use in local staging is not recommended. MRI is mostly accurate in evaluating the mesorectum and the mesorectal fascia which are considered the most relevant prognostic factors for local recurrence. Lymph node evaluation is a challenge for every imaging techniques since lymph node size is not a reliable criterion for diagnosing metastatic involvement. Nuclear medicine has a remarkable role in the work-up of rectal cancer and in the next future the combination of FDG PET in conjunction with a dedicated contrast enhanced CT protocols could become a single-step staging procedure.

Surg Oncol. 2007 Dec;16 Suppl 1:S49-50

MRI with a lymph-node-specific contrast agent as an alternative to CT scan and lymph-node dissection in patients with prostate cancer: a prospective multicohort study.

BACKGROUND: In patients with prostate cancer who are deemed to be at intermediate or high risk of having nodal metastases, invasive diagnostic pelvic lymph-node dissection (PLND) is the gold standard for the detection of nodal disease. However, a new lymph-node-specific MR-contrast agent ferumoxtran-10 can detect metastases in normal-sized nodes (ie, <8 mm in size) by use of MR lymphoangiography (MRL). In this prospective, multicentre cohort study, we aimed to compare the diagnostic accuracy of MRL with up-to-date multidetector CT (MDCT), and test the hypothesis that a negative MRL finding obviates the need for a PLND. METHODS: We included consecutive patients with prostate cancer who had an intermediate or high risk (risk of >5% according to routinely used nomograms) of having lymph-node metastases. All patients were assessed by MDCT and MRL, and underwent PLND or fine-needle aspiration biopsy. Imaging results were correlated with histopathology. The primary outcomes were sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, NPV, and PPV of MRL and MDCT. This study is registered with, number NCT00185029. FINDINGS: The study was done in 11 hospitals in the Netherlands between April 8, 2003, and April 19, 2005. 375 consecutive patients were included. 61 of 375 (16%) patients had lymph-node metastases. Sensitivity was 34% (21 of 61; 95% CI 23-48) for MDCT and 82% (50 of 61; 70-90) for MRL (McNemar’s test p<0.05). Specificity was 97% (303 of 314; 94-98) for MDCT and 93% (291 of 314; 89-95) for MRL. Positive predictive value (PPV) was 66% (21 of 32; 47-81) for MDCT and 69% (50 of 73; 56-79) for MRL. Negative predictive value (NPV) was 88% (303 of 343; 84-91) for MDCT and 96% (291 of 302; 93-98) for MRL (McNemar’s test p<0.05). Of the 61 patients with lymph-node metastases, 50 were detected by MRL, of which 40 (80%) had metastases in normal-sized lymph nodes. The high sensitivity and NPV of MRL imply that in patients with a negative MRL, the chance of positive lymph nodes is less than 11/302 (4%). INTERPRETATION: MRL had significantly higher sensitivity and NPV than MDCT for patients with prostate cancer who had intermediate or high risk of having lymph-node metastases. In such patients, after a negative MRL, the post-test probability of having lymph-node metastases is low enough to omit a PLND.

Lancet Oncol. 2008 Sep;9(9):850-6

Use of ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide in lymph node MR imaging in prostate cancer patients.

A macrophage-specific magnetic resonance (MR) contrast agent allows the detection of small and otherwise undetectable lymph node metastases in patients with prostate cancer. This has an important clinical impact, as the diagnosis will be more precise and less invasive to obtain. Subsequently, this will reduce morbidity and health care costs. However, thorough knowledge of sequence parameters and planes, lymph node anatomy, appearance of normal and abnormal nodes, is essential when using this technique. This will be elaborated in this review.

Eur J Radiol. 2007 Sep;63(3):369-72

Recent advances in iron oxide nanocrystal technology for medical imaging.

Superparamagnetic iron oxide particles (SPIO and USPIO) have a variety of applications in molecular and cellular imaging. Most of the recent research has concerned cellular imaging with imaging of in vivo macrophage activity. According to the iron oxide nanoparticle composition and size which influence their biodistribution, several clinical applications are possible: detection liver metastases, metastatic lymph nodes, inflammatory and/or degenerative diseases. USPIO are investigated as blood pool agents with T1 weighted sequence for angiography, tumour permeability and tumour blood volume or steady-state cerebral blood volume and vessel size index measurements using T2 weighted sequences. Stem cell migration and immune cell trafficking, as well as targeted iron oxide nanoparticles for molecular imaging studies, are at the stage of proof of concept, mainly in animal models.

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2006 Dec 1;58(14):1471-504

Detection of pelvic lymph node metastases in patients with clinically localized prostate cancer: comparison of [18F]fluorocholine positron emission tomography-computerized tomography and laparoscopic radioisotope guided sentinel lymph node dissection.

PURPOSE: Accurate detection of lymph node metastases in prostate cancer has important implications for prognosis and approach to treatment. We investigated whether preoperative [18F]fluorocholine combined in-line positron emission tomography-computerized tomography and intraoperative laparoscopic radioisotope guided sentinel pelvic lymph node dissection can detect pelvic lymph node metastases in patients with clinically localized prostate cancer as reliably as extended pelvic lymph node dissection. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 20 patients (mean age 63.9 +/- 6.7 years, range 52 to 75) with clinically localized prostate cancer, prostate specific antigen greater than 10 ng/ml, and/or a Gleason score sum of 7 or greater and negative bone scan were enrolled in the study. [18F]fluorocholine combined in-line positron emission tomography-computerized tomography was performed before surgery. Sentinel pelvic lymph node dissection preceded extended pelvic lymph node dissection including the area of the obturator fossa, external iliac artery/vein and internal iliac artery/vein up to the bifurcation of the common iliac artery. Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy was performed afterward. RESULTS: In 10 of the 20 patients (50%) lymph node metastases were detected, and were exclusively found outside the obturator fossa in 62%. These metastases would not have been identified with standard lymph node dissection of the obturator fossa only. [18F]fluorocholine combined in-line positron emission tomography-computerized tomography was true positive in 1, false-positive in 2, false-negative in 9 and true negative in 8 patients. The largest lymph node metastasis not seen with [18F]fluorocholine combined in-line positron emission tomography-computerized tomography was 8 mm. Laparoscopic sentinel guided lymph node dissection revealed lymph node metastases in 8 of 10 patients. In the other 2 patients sentinel lymph node dissection was not conclusive. In 1 patient normal nodal tissue was completely replaced by cancer and, therefore, there was no tracer uptake in the involved pelvic sidewall/node, and the other patient had no tracer activity at all in the involved pelvic sidewall. Extended pelvic lymph node dissection missed 1 lymph node metastasis (2 mm diameter near pudendal artery) which was detected by sentinel pelvic lymph node dissection only. CONCLUSIONS: Extended pelvic lymph node dissection reveals a higher number of lymph node metastases as described for obturator fossa dissection only. [18F]fluorocholine combined in-line positron emission tomography-computerized tomography is not useful in searching for occult lymph node metastases in clinically localized prostate cancer. Sentinel guided pelvic lymph node dissection allows the detection of even small lymph node metastases. The accuracy of sentinel pelvic lymph node dissection is comparable to that of extended pelvic lymph node dissection when the limitations of the method are taken into consideration.

J Urol. 2006 Nov;176(5):2014-8

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