Endocrinology Unit, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, and Center for Applied Biomedical Sciences, S.Orsola - Malpighi Hospital, University Alma Mater Studiorum, Via Massarenti 9, 40138, Bologna, Italy.
Modern endocrinology is living a critical age of transition as far as laboratory testing and biochemical diagnosis are concerned. Novel liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) assays for steroid measurement in biological fluids have abundantly demonstrated their analytical superiority over immunometric platforms that until now have dominated the world of steroid hormones determination in clinical laboratories. One of the most useful applications of LC-MS/MS is in the hypogonadism and hyperandrogenism field: LC-MS/MS has proved particularly suitable for the detection of low levels of testosterone typical of women and children, and in general more reliable in accurately determining hypogonadal male levels. This technique also offers increased informative power by allowing multi-analytical profiles that give a more comprehensive picture of the overall hormonal asset. Several LC-MS/MS methods for testosterone have been published in the last decade, some of them included other androgen or more comprehensive steroid profiles. LC-MS/MS offers the concrete possibility of achieving a definitive standardization of testosterone measurements and the generation of widely accepted reference intervals, that will set the basis for a consensus on the diagnostic value of biochemical testing. The present review is aimed at summarizing technological advancements in androgen measurements in serum and saliva. We also provide a picture of the state of advancement of standardization of testosterone assays, of the redefinition of androgen reference intervals by novel assays and of studies using LC-MS/MS for the characterization and diagnosis of female hyperandrogenism and male hypogonadism.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common ovarian disorder associated with androgen excess in women, which justifies the growing interest of endocrinologists. Great efforts have been made in the last two decades to define the syndrome. The presence of three different definitions for the diagnosis of PCOS reflects the phenotypic heterogeneity of the syndrome. Major criteria are required for the diagnosis, which in turn identifies different phenotypes according to the combination of different criteria. In addition, the relevant impact of metabolic issues, specifically insulin resistance and obesity, on the pathogenesis of PCOS, and the susceptibility to develop earlier than expected glucose intolerance states, including type 2 diabetes, has supported the notion that these aspects be considered when defining the PCOS phenotype and planning potential therapeutic strategies in an affected subject. This paper offers a critical endocrine and European perspective on the debate on the definition of PCOS and summarizes all major aspects related to etiological factors, including early life events, potentially involved in the development of the disorder. Diagnostic tools of PCOS are also discussed, with emphasis on the laboratory evaluation of androgens and other potential biomarkers of ovarian and metabolic dysfunctions. We have also paid specific attention to the role of obesity, sleep disorders and neuropsychological aspects of PCOS and on the relevant pathogenetic aspects of cardiovascular risk factors. In addition, we have discussed how to target treatment choices based according to the phenotype and individual patient's needs. Finally, we have suggested potential areas of translational and clinical research for the future with specific emphasis on hormonal and metabolic aspects of PCOS.
European Journal of Endocrinology 05/2014; 171(4). DOI:10.1530/EJE-14-0253 · 4.07 Impact Factor
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