Kids with Cushing syndrome face higher suicide risk

New York, March 29 (IANS) Children with Cushing syndrome — a metabolic disorder caused by high levels of the stress hormone hormone cortisol — may be at higher risk for suicide as well as for depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions long after their disease has been successfully treated, says a study.

Cushing’s syndrome may be caused by tumours of the adrenal glands or other parts of the body that produce excess cortisol. It also may be caused by a pituitary tumour that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce high cortisol levels.

Treatment usually involves stopping excess cortisol production by removing the tumour. Long-term complications of the syndrome include obesity, diabetes, bone fractures, high blood pressure, kidney stones and serious infections.

“Our results indicate that physicians who care for young people with Cushing syndrome should screen their patients for depression-related mental illness after the underlying disease has been successfully treated,” said the study’s senior author Constantine Stratakis NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“Patients may not tell their doctors that they’re feeling depressed, so it’s a good idea for physicians to screen their patients proactively for depression and related conditions,” Stratakis said.

Cushing syndrome may affect both adults and children.

For the study, the researchers reviewed the case histories of all children and youth treated for Cushing syndrome at NIH from 2003 to 2014, a total of 149 patients.

The researchers found that, months after treatment, nine children (roughly six percent) had thoughts of suicide and experienced outbursts of anger and rage, depression, irritability and anxiety. Of these, seven experienced symptoms within seven months of their treatment.

Two others began experiencing symptoms at least 48 months after treatment.

The authors noted that children with Cushing syndrome often develop compulsive behaviours and tend to become over-achievers in school. After treatment, however, they then become depressed and anxious.

This is in direct contrast to adults with Cushing syndrome, who tend to become depressed and anxious before treatment and gradually overcome these symptoms after treatment, the study said.

How human body ages?

Tokyo, March 29 (IANS) Japanese researchers have discovered metabolites that are specifically related to aging and shed light on how the human body ages.

Metabolites, substances that are created during metabolism, can provide a wealth of information about an individual’s health, disease, diet, and life-style.

The results of the study identified some metabolites in the blood that increased or decreased in the older adults.

The researchers found 14 age-related metabolites. Half of these decreased in elderly people and the other half increased.

Antioxidants and metabolites related to muscle strength decreased in the elderly, whereas metabolites related to declining kidney and liver function increased.

“Of the 14 compounds, half of the them had decreased in elderly people. The decrease was found in antioxidants and in compounds related to muscle strength. Therefore, elderly people had less antioxidants and less muscle strength,” said lead researcher Yanagida, professor at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) in Japan.

In addition, some of the age-related metabolites found on the same metabolic pathways have connected changes, which suggests that age affects them simultaneously.

“Functionally related compounds show the same tendencies to increase or decrease with age, or in other words, they show similar correlations,” Yanagida noted, in the study published in the journal PNAS.

The decline in antioxidants and muscle strength suggest that it is important for individuals to consume foods high in antioxidants and to continue exercising, especially after the age of 65.

This could help increase the levels of the related metabolites in the body and improve body conditions, the researchers stressed.

“Longevity is a great mystery for us…We want to find how elderly people can live a happy final stage of life. This is the way we can contribute to human health,” Yanagida maintained.

To find and analyse the metabolites, the team obtained blood samples, including red blood cells (RBCs), from 30 healthy individuals: 15 young adults and 15 older adults.

Then, they used Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS), a technique that separates liquids and detects substances, to identify the metabolites within the blood.

From there, they could calculate the coefficients of variation, or the standard deviation of metabolite abundance divided by the average, to identify which compounds had increased or decreased in the older adults.

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