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Massimiliano Andrioli, Chiara Carzaniga, and Luca Persani

Background: Ultrasonography (US) plays a crucial role in the diagnostic management of thyroid nodules, but its widespread use in clinical practice might generate heterogeneity in ultrasound reports. Objectives: The aims of the study were to propose (a) a standardized lexicon for description of thyroid nodules in order to reduce US reports of interobserver variability and (b) a US classification system of suspicion for thyroid nodules in order to promote a uniform management of thyroid nodules. Methods: Relevant published articles were identified by searching MEDLINE at PubMed combining the following search terms: ultrasonography, thyroid, nodule, malignancy, carcinoma, and classification system. Results were supplemented with our data and experience. Results: A standardized US report should always document position, extracapsular relationships, number, and the following characteristics of each thyroid lesion: shape, internal content, echogenicity, echotexture, presence of calcifications, margins, vascularity, and size. Combining the previous US features, each thyroid nodule can be tentatively classified as: malignant, suspicious for malignancy, borderline, probably benign, and benign. Conclusions: We propose a standardized US report and a tentative US classification system that may become helpful for endocrinologists dealing with thyroid nodules in their clinical practice. The proposed classification does not allow to bypass the required cytological confirmation, but may become useful in identifying the lesions with a lower risk of neoplasm.

Free access

Marta Di Stefano, Carla Colombo, Simone De Leo, Michela Perrino, Mauro Viganò, Luca Persani, and Laura Fugazzola

Introduction: Lenvatinib (LEN) is a multitarget tyrosine kinase inhibitor currently used for advanced, radioiodine refractory differentiated thyroid cancer (RAI-R DTC). Among adverse events (AEs), nausea, vomiting, and decreased appetite have been frequently described. We aimed to evaluate the prevalence, the clinical presentation, and the effectiveness of conservative treatment of gallbladder disorders in a consecutive series of patient treated with LEN. Methods: Patients with RAI-R DTC experiencing clinical symptoms suggestive for gallbladder disorders during LEN treatment were evaluated with laboratory investigations and contrast-enhanced abdominal computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound scan (US). Results: After a median time of 2 months from the start of treatment, 5/13 patients (38.4%) complained of gastrointestinal symptoms, with increased biliary enzymes levels, especially γGT, and CT/US suggestive of acute cholecystitis (AC). The onset of symptoms and the peak of γGT levels frequently corresponded to the highest reduction in body weight during the first months of treatment. All patients were treated with supportive care and, when appropriate, with ursodeoxycholic acid; in 4 patients, LEN dose reduction or short interruption was needed, too. Conclusions: In patients with RAI-R DTC treated with LEN, a high prevalence of AC in the first months of treatment was documented. Mainly due to the low specificity of symptoms such as anorexia, nausea, and vomiting, this AE is likely to be frequently misdiagnosed. The onset of the disease was associated to the weight loss observed during the first months of treatment and contributes to further decrease in body weight. Therefore, particularly during the first months of treatment, or at any time of huge reduction of body weight, monitoring of γGT and US is crucial for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Conservative medical treatment and LEN dosage titration, together with dietary and rehabilitative supports, can limit or avoid the need for drug withdrawal and cholecystectomy.

Open access

Irene Campi, Marco Dell'acqua, Elisa Stellaria Grassi, Maria Cristina Vigone, and Luca Persani

The clinical consequences of primary hypothyroidism include cardiovascular morbidity, increased mortality and poor quality of life, therefore guidelines endorsed by several Scientific Societies recommend measuring circulating TSH in patients at risk. The assessment of serum TSH levels is also deemed to be the most robust and accurate biomarker during the management of replacement therapy in patients with a previous diagnosis of primary hypothyroidism. In line with a reflex TSH laboratory strategy, free T4 is measured only if the TSH falls outside specific cut-offs, in order to streamline investigations and save unjustified costs. This serum TSH-based approach to both diagnosis and monitoring has been widely accepted by several national and local health services, nevertheless false negative or positive TSH testing may occur leading to inappropriate management or treatment. This review aims to describe several infrequent causes of increased circulating TSH, including analytical interference, resistance to TSH, consumptive hypothyroidism, and refractoriness to levothyroxine replacement treatment. We propose a clinical flow-chart to aid correct recognition of these various conditions, that represent important potential pitfalls in the diagnosis and treatment of primary hypothyroidism.

Open access

Stamatina Ioakim, Akheel A Syed, George Zavros, Michalis Picolos, Luca Persani, and Angelos Kyriacou


The 2015 American Thyroid Association (ATA) Guidelines recommend the following size cut-offs based on sonographic appearances for subjecting nodules to fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: low risk: 15 mm and intermediate risk and high risk: 10 mm.


We conducted a ‘real-world’ study evaluating the diagnostic performance of the ATA cut-offs against increased thresholds, in the interest of safely limiting FNAs.


We performed a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data on 604 nodules which were sonographically risk-stratified as per the ATA Guidelines and subsequently subjected to ultrasound-guided FNA. Nodules were cytologically stratified into ‘benign’ (Bethesda class 2) and ‘non-benign’ (Bethesda classes 3–6). We obtained the negative predictive value (NPV), accuracy, FNAs that could be spared, missed ‘non-benign’ cytologies and missed carcinomas on histology, according to the ATA cut-offs compared to higher cut-offs.


In low-risk nodules, the high performance of NPV (≈91%) is unaffected by increasing the cut-off to 25 mm, and accuracy improves by 39.4%; 46.8% of FNAs could be spared at the expense of few missed B3–B6 cytologies (7.9%) and no missed carcinomas. In intermediate-risk nodules, a 15 mm cut-off increases the NPV by 11.3% and accuracy by 40.7%. The spared FNAs approach 50%, while B3–B6 cytologies are minimal, with no missed carcinomas. In high-risk nodules, low NPV (<35%) and accuracy (<46%) were obtained regardless of cut-off. Moreover, the spared FNAs achieved at higher cut-offs involved numerous missed ‘non-benign’ cytologies and carcinomas.


It would be clinically safe to increase the ATA cut-offs for FNA in low-risk nodules to 25 mm and in intermediate-risk nodules to 15 mm.

Free access

Simone De Leo, Carla Colombo, Marta Di Stefano, Antonella Dubini, Silvia Cozzi, Luca Persani, and Laura Fugazzola

Weight loss is one of the most frequent adverse events during treatment with multikinase inhibitors, but scanty data are available on its extent and characteristics. This is the first assessment of the body composition by bioelectrical impedance analysis and of circulating leptin and ghrelin levels, in patients with advanced thyroid cancer before and at regular intervals during treatment with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor lenvatinib. Body mass index (BMI) decreased in all patients, with an average ∆ reduction of –6.4, –9.8, and –15.3% at 3, 6, and 12 months of treatment, respectively. Interestingly, in most patients, after the first year of treatment, BMI remained stable. In all patients, fat mass (FM) reduced more than fat-free mass, the highest decrement being of –60 and –16%, respectively. A decrease in the body cell mass, a parameter mainly due to muscle tissue, was observed only in patients with a vast baseline muscular mass. Total body water decreased in parallel to BMI. During treatment, leptin tightly paralleled the decrease of BMI values, consistent with the decrease in FM, whereas ghrelin levels increased upon BMI decrease. The loss of the FM accounts for the largest portion of BMI reduction during lenvatinib treatment. The increase in ghrelin could account for the BMI stabilization observed after 1 year of treatment. Nevertheless, oral nutritional supplements should be given as early as possible and athletic patients should be encouraged to maintain physical activity. In some circumstances, parenteral nutrition is required for the rehabilitation of these patients.

Open access

Giorgio Radetti, Franco Rigon, Alessandro Salvatoni, Irene Campi, Tiziana De Filippis, Valentina Cirello, Silvia Longhi, Fabiana Guizzardi, Marco Bonomi, and Luca Persani


Patients with congenital hypothyroidism (CH) may transiently show a certain degree of pituitary resistance to levothyroxine (LT4) which, however, normalizes subsequently. However, in some individuals, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) fails to normalize despite adequate LT4 treatment.


Nine patients with CH followed in three Academic Centre who developed over time resistance to thyroid hormones underwent extensive biochemical and genetic analyses. These latter were performed by Sanger sequence or targeted next-generation sequencing technique including a panel of candidate genes involved in thyroid hormone actions and congenital hypothyroidism (CH): THRA, THRB, DIO1, DIO2, SLC16A2, SECISBP2, DUOX2, DUOXA2, FOXE1, GLIS3, IYD, JAG1, NKX2-1, NKX2- 5, PAX8, SLC26A4, SLC5A5, TG, TPO, TSHR.


All patients displayed a normal sensitivity to thyroid hormone (TH) in the first years of life but developed variable degrees of resistance to LT4 treatment at later stages. In all cases, TSH normalized only in the presence of high free thyroxine levels. Tri-iodothyronine suppression test followed by thyrotrophin-releasing hormone stimulation was performed in two cases and was compatible with central resistance to THs. This biochemical feature was present independently on the cause of CH, being observed either in patients with an ectopic (n = 2) or eutopic gland (n = 3) or in case of athyreosis (n = 1). None of the patients had genetic variants in genes involved in the regulation of TH actions, while in two cases, we found two double heterozygous missense variants in TSHR and GLIS3 or in DUOX2 and SLC26A4 genes, respectively.


We report CH patients who showed an acquired and unexplainable pituitary refractoriness to TH action.

Free access

Tiziana de Filippis, Federica Marelli, Maria Cristina Vigone, Marianna Di Frenna, Giovanna Weber, and Luca Persani

Objectives: To verify the involvement of NKX2-1 gene in infants with brain-lung-thyroid (BLT) syndrome and hypothyroid phenotypes variable among congenital hypothyroidism (CH) or idiopathic mild hypothyroidism (IMH) of postnatal onset. Methods: The candidates were selected by a case-finding approach in 130 CH and 53 IMH infants. The NKX2-1 gene was analyzed by direct sequencing and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification. The variants were studied in vitro, by expression analyses and luciferase bioassay. Results: Four cases (3 CH and 1 IMH) consistent with BLT syndrome were identified. Two children were affected with respiratory distress and CH, but wild-type NKX2-1 gene. The remaining two presented choreic movements and no pulmonary involvement, but discrepant thyroid phenotypes: one had severe CH with lingual ectopy and the other one IMH with gland in situ. They were carriers of new de novo heterozygous frameshift mutations of NKX2-1 (c.177delG and c.153_166del14). The c.177delG leads to a prematurely truncated protein (p.H60TfsX11) with undetectable activity in vitro. The c.153_166del14 leads to the generation of an elongated aberrant protein (p.A52RfsX351) able to translocate into the nucleus, but completely inactive on a responsive promoter. Conclusions: Two novel heterozygous frameshift mutations of NKX2-1 were identified in 2 cases selected on the basis of a BLT-like phenotype among 183 hypothyroid infants. The atypical hypothyroid phenotypes of these 2 children (CH with lingual ectopy or IMH of postnatal onset) further expand the clinical spectrum that can be associated with NKX2-1 mutations.

Open access

Carla Colombo, Daniele Ceruti, Simone De Leo, Grzegorz Bilo, Matteo Trevisan, Noemi Giancola, Claudia Moneta, Gianfranco Parati, Luca Persani, and Laura Fugazzola

Background: Hypertension (HTN) is the most frequent adverse event during treatment with Lenvatinib (LEN), but data on its best management are limited.

Aim: To assess incidence, features and best management of LEN-related HTN in a consecutive single tertiary-care Centre cohort.

Methods: 29 patients followed for a mean time of 29.8 months (6-77 months).

Results: After a mean follow-up of 6.8 months, HTN was recorded in 76% of cases, as a de novo occurrence in half of them. HTN significantly correlated with LEN dose, and was of grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3 in 5%, 50% and 45% of patients, respectively. The majority (77%) of patients with HTN developed proteinuria. There was no correlation between HTN and either proteinuria or clinical features or best morphological response or any other AE, with the exception of diarrhoea. Patients with or without pre-existing HTN or any other cardiovascular disease had a similar incidence of HTN during LEN, thus excluding the impact of this potential predisposing factor. After evaluation by a dedicated cardiologist, medical treatment was introduced in 21/22 patients (polytherapy in 20 of them). The most frequently used drugs were calcium channel blockers (CCB) due to their effect on vasodilation. In case of poor control, CCB were associated with one or more anti-hypertensive drug.

Conclusion: HTN is a frequent and early adverse event in patients on LEN treatment. We suggest a diagnostic-therapeutic algorithm to be applied in clinical practice to allow efficient HTN control and improve patient compliance, reducing LEN discontinuation.

Free access

Luca Persani, Georg Brabant, Mehul Dattani, Marco Bonomi, Ulla Feldt-Rasmussen, Eric Fliers, Annette Gruters, Dominique Maiter, Nadia Schoenmakers, and A.S. Paul van Trotsenburg

Objectives: Central hypothyroidism (CeH) is a rare form of hypothyroidism characterized by insufficient thyroid stimulation due to disturbed pituitary and/or hypothalamic functioning. Due to its origin and the whole clinical context, CeH represents a challenging condition in clinical practice as it is characterized by suboptimal accuracy of clinical and biochemical parameters for diagnosis and management. Since no expert consensus or guidance for this condition is currently available, a task force of experts received the commitment from the European Thyroid Association (ETA) to prepare this document based on the principles of clinical evidence. Study Design: The task force started to work in February 2017 and after a careful selection of appropriate references (cohort studies, case reports, expert opinions), a preliminary presentation and live discussion during the 2017 ETA meeting, and several revision rounds, has prepared a list of recommendations to support the diagnosis and management of patients with CeH. Results: Due to the particular challenges of this rare condition in the different ages, the target users of this guidance are pediatric and adult endocrinologists. Experts agreed on the need to recognize and treat overt CeH at all ages, whereas treatment of milder forms may be dispensable in the elderly (> 75 years). Conclusions: Despite the lack of randomized controlled clinical trials, the experts provide 34 recommendations supported by variable levels of strength that should improve the quality of life of the affected patients and reduce the metabolic and hormonal consequences of inadequate management.

Free access

Irene Campi, Maura Agostini, Federica Marelli, Tiziana de Filippis, Beatriz Romartinez-Alonso, Odelia Rajanayagam, Giuditta Rurale, Ilaria Gentile, Federica Spagnolo, Massimiliano Andreasi, Francesco Ferraù, Salvatore Cannavò, Laura Fugazzola, Krishna V. Chatterjee, and Luca Persani

Introduction: Resistance to thyroid hormone β (RTHβ) is an inherited syndrome caused by dominant negative variants in the THRB gene (NM_000461.5). The clinical picture of RTHβ is variable, and patients harboring the same variant may display different degrees of disease severity. Case Presentation: A 30-year-old man presented with thyrotoxicosis and central hyperthyroidism and was found to have a novel variant in the exon 10 of THRB gene (c.C1282G, p.L428V), located within the third hot spot region of the C-terminal of the receptor. Surprisingly, the same variant was found in two other relatives with an apparent normal thyroid function at initial screening. After exclusion of a TSH-secreting adenoma and serum interference in the proband, and the finding that exogenous levothyroxine failed to suppress the TSH in the brother affected by nodular goiter, relatives’ thyroid function tests (TFTs) were reassessed with additional analytical method revealing biochemical features consistent with RTHβ in all carriers of the p.L428V variant. Functional studies showed a slightly impaired in vitro transcriptional activity of p.L428V. Interestingly‚ the expression of the human p.L428V thyroid hormone receptor beta in the zebrafish embryo background generated a phenotype consistent with RTHβ. Conclusion: Variable results of TFTs on some immunoassays can be a cause of RTHβ diagnostic delay, but the genotype-phenotype correlation in this family and functional studies support p.L428V as a novel THRB variant expanding the spectrum of gene variants causing RTHβ. In vivo, rather than in vitro, functional assays may be required to demonstrate the dominant negative action of THRB variants.