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What's new in endocrinology and diabetes mellitus

Disclosures: Kathryn A Martin, MD Employee of UpToDate, Inc. Jean E Mulder, MD Employee of UpToDate, Inc.

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All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
Literature review current through: Jun 2014. | This topic last updated: Jul 17, 2014.

The following represent additions to UpToDate from the past six months that were considered by the editors and authors to be of particular interest. The most recent What's New entries are at the top of each subsection.


Inhaled insulin (July 2014)

In June of 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a formulation of inhaled insulin (Afrezza) to improve glycemic control in adults with diabetes mellitus [1]. The approval includes a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, which consists of informing healthcare professionals about the serious risk of acute bronchospasm associated with use in patients with asthma or other chronic lung diseases. Because of this risk, Afrezza is contraindicated in patients with chronic lung disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Afrezza, which is administered at the beginning of a meal, is expected to become available for clinical use in early 2015. Until more published data about safety and efficacy are available, the role of this insulin preparation is uncertain. (See "Inhaled insulin therapy in diabetes mellitus", section on 'Dose and administration'.)

Automated closed-loop insulin pump (July 2014)

Small studies have compared overnight glycemic control using a fully automated closed-loop system of insulin delivery (eg, patients do not adjust dosing) with conventional insulin pump therapy. In two crossover trials in adults and adolescents, an automated bihormonal (insulin and glucagon) closed-loop system was compared with conventional insulin pump therapy over a five-day period [2]. The delivery of insulin and glucagon during the closed-loop arm was determined automatically by an algorithm that adjusted doses based on continuous glucose monitoring. On days 2 through 5 of the closed-loop system, as compared with the control period, the mean glucose level was lower in both adults and adolescents. There were no severe hypoglycemic events during the closed-loop period. Although these preliminary results are promising, additional trials are needed. (See "Insulin therapy in adults with type 1 diabetes mellitus", section on 'Automated closed-loop insulin pump'.)

Decline in diabetes-related complications (May 2014)

Morbidity from diabetes is a consequence of both macrovascular and microvascular disease. The progression of these complications can be slowed with interventions such as aggressive management of glycemia, blood pressure, and lipids; laser therapy for advanced retinopathy; and administration of an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin II receptor blocker for nephropathy. These interventions appear to be reducing the incidence of several diabetes-related complications, including myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, lower-extremity amputation, and end-stage renal disease. In the United States, the greatest absolute declines have been reported for acute MI and stroke (between 1990 and 2010, 95.6 and 58.9 fewer cases per 10,000 persons per year for MI and stroke, respectively) [3]. (See "Overview of medical care in adults with diabetes mellitus", section on 'Diabetes-related complications'.)

ACE inhibitors and ARBs in diabetic patients (May 2014)

A meta-analysis of 48 trials in patients with diabetes that compared angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) with either placebo or another antihypertensive drug found that ACE inhibitors, but not ARBs, significantly reduced mortality compared with placebo [4]. However, differences in patient populations may explain some of these findings; the overall mortality in the trials comparing ARBs with placebo was substantially lower than trials comparing ACE inhibitors with placebo. Both ACE-inhibitors and ARBs had similar, nonsignificant benefits on mortality when compared with another antihypertensive drug, and both agents had significant benefits on heart failure. Other meta-analyses in both diabetic and nondiabetic patients have reported that ACE inhibitors and ARBs have identical effects on mortality and kidney disease. (See "Treatment of hypertension in patients with diabetes mellitus", section on 'Overall approach to selecting a therapy'.)

Mediterranean diet and diabetes prevention (February 2014)

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with several health benefits. In an exploratory analysis of a trial designed to compare the cardiovascular outcomes of two different Mediterranean diets with a low fat diet in men and women at high risk for cardiovascular disease, the incidence of new diabetes could be ascertained in a subgroup of 3541 individuals [5]. The risk of developing diabetes at four-year follow-up was decreased in the groups assigned to the Mediterranean diets. The original trial and the exploratory analysis had several limitations, and randomized trials of Mediterranean diets with diabetes as a primary endpoint are needed before they can be recommended for diabetes prevention. (See "Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus", section on 'Diet'.)


Oral emergency contraception in overweight women (February 2014)

In Europe, product labeling for levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception (NorLevo) was recently updated to indicate that it may be less effective in women ≥75 kg (165 pounds) and not effective in women >80 kg (176 pounds) [6,7]. We counsel overweight and obese women about potentially reduced or absent efficacy of levonorgestrel emergency contraception as body mass index increases above the normal range (25) or at weights ≥75 kg (165 pounds). (See "Emergency contraception", section on 'Overweight and obese women'.)

Obesity and outcomes of IVF with donor oocytes (January 2014)

Obesity is associated with infertility, an increased risk of miscarriage, and a decreased conception rate when undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) with autologous oocytes. However, a meta-analysis of six studies that included 4758 women undergoing IVF with donor oocytes suggests that obesity may not have a negative impact on outcomes of this procedure [8]. Similar rates of pregnancy, miscarriage, and live birth were observed for obese (BMI >30 kg/m2) and normal weight (BMI 20 to 24.9 kg/m2) women. Since the vast majority of studies report adverse reproductive outcomes in obese women compared to normal weight women, however, women should be counseled about the benefits of weight loss prior to pursuing fertility. (See "Oocyte donation for assisted reproduction", section on 'Obese women'.)


Testosterone products: Revised labeling for venous thromboembolism risk (July 2014)

While previous labeling of testosterone products in the United States has included information about the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) as a consequence of erythrocytosis, a recent study found that venous thromboses and pulmonary emboli may occur unrelated to polycythemia in patients taking testosterone [9]. In this study, among 40 men who had thrombotic events at a median of five months after starting testosterone therapy, 39 were found to have previously undiagnosed thrombophilia-hypofibrinolysis, highlighting the importance of a careful personal and family VTE history prior to initiating treatment. Routine screening for thrombophilias in men considering testosterone therapy is not currently suggested. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will now require a more general warning about the risk of thrombosis in the labeling of all approved testosterone products [10]. (See "Testosterone treatment of male hypogonadism", section on 'Erythrocytosis' and "Testosterone treatment of male hypogonadism", section on 'Venous thromboembolism'.)

Nasal testosterone gel for male hypogonadism (June 2014)

The first nasal testosterone gel (Natesto) has been approved in the United States for the treatment of male hypogonadism [11]. The gel is administered into the nostrils via a metered-dose pump applicator. One advantage over other formulations is the minimal risk of gel transfer to a partner or child. On the other hand, some men may find the three times daily regimen inconvenient, and those with allergies or underlying nasal or sinus pathology may have trouble tolerating the formulation as rhinorrhea, nasopharyngitis, and sinusitis are among the most common side effects. Until further published data are available, we suggest using other available testosterone gels, patches, or injectable esters over this new formulation. (See "Testosterone treatment of male hypogonadism", section on 'Other'.)

Extra-long acting injectable testosterone preparation approved in US (March 2014)

Testosterone undecanoate is an extra-long acting parenteral testosterone ester developed for the treatment of male hypogonadism; it has been available in several countries outside the United States, but is now approved in the US as well [12]. Unlike other testosterone esters (enanthate and cypionate) that require injection every one to two weeks, testosterone undecanoate is administered every 10 to 14 weeks. However, this preparation has been associated with rare, but important adverse events: pulmonary oil microembolism (POME) and anaphylaxis (1.5 and 0.4 cases per 10,000 injections, respectively) [13]. In the United States, the drug will only be available through a restricted program called the AVEED Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program. All injections must be administered in an office or hospital setting and monitored for 30 minutes afterwards for adverse reactions. (See "Testosterone treatment of male hypogonadism", section on 'Extra-long-acting injections'.)

Testosterone and cardiovascular safety (March 2014)

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating data about a possible increase in cardiovascular events in men taking testosterone replacement therapy [14]. Earlier studies did not find evidence of excess cardiovascular risk in hypogonadal men receiving testosterone, but a 2010 trial in men aged 65 and older was stopped early because of adverse cardiovascular events. Two more recent retrospective cohort studies also suggest there might be a higher rate of cardiovascular events in some men who take testosterone [15,16]. However, all three studies have important methodological limitations. Given the uncertainty of these data, we continue to recommend that testosterone be administered only to men who are hypogonadal, as evidenced by clinical symptoms and signs consistent with androgen deficiency and a subnormal morning serum total testosterone concentration on three occasions. (See "Testosterone treatment of male hypogonadism", section on 'Cardiovascular risks'.)

Tamoxifen in dietary supplements for athletic performance (March 2014)

Tamoxifen, an antiestrogen, has been identified as an unlabeled ingredient in dietary supplements marketed to enhance athletic performance [17]. Bodybuilders and other athletes who take exogenous testosterone frequently take tamoxifen (10 to 20 mg/day) to prevent gynecomastia. Tamoxifen doses in one supplement, EstoSuppress, were as high as 7.6 mg/day, close to the therapeutic doses (10 to 20 mg/day for painful gynecomastia and male breast cancer) that have been associated with venous thromboembolism (VTE) [18]. In athletes using androgens and tamoxifen, inadvertent use of additional tamoxifen from dietary supplements could add to the already elevated VTE risk. (See "Use of androgens and other hormones to enhance athletic performance", section on 'Antiestrogens'.)


Obesity as independent risk for coronary heart disease (April 2014)

Obesity is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), but the extent to which this association is due to concurrent factors (hypertension, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance) or to obesity independent of other risks is uncertain. In an analysis of pooled data from 97 prospective cohort studies from multiple countries (1.8 million individuals), blood pressure, serum cholesterol, and blood glucose accounted for approximately 50 percent of the excess risk of high body mass index (BMI) for CHD [19]. Blood pressure was the most important mediator, which accounted for approximately one-third of the excess risk. (See "Obesity in adults: Health hazards", section on 'Coronary disease'.)

Obesity prevalence in preschool children (March 2014)

In the United States, the overall prevalence of childhood obesity tripled between the early 1980s and 2000, then reached a plateau. Now, a nationwide population study has reported a dramatic decrease in obesity among preschool aged children (two to five years) [20]. In this age group, obesity rates peaked at 13.9 percent in 2004, then fell by 40 percent to 8.4 percent in 2011-2012. In the same study, the rates of obesity among older children and adolescents remained stable. (See "Definition; epidemiology; and etiology of obesity in children and adolescents", section on 'Trends'.)

Obesity usually is established before school entry (February 2014)

Longitudinal studies reveal that a substantial component of adolescent obesity is established before five years of age. In a large study from the United States, children who were overweight at entry into kindergarten were four times as likely to become obese by eighth grade as compared with normal-weight children [21]. Moreover, the severity of obesity was an important predictor of persistence. Among children who had mild obesity at entry into kindergarten (mean age 5.6 years), 47 percent remained obese in eighth grade (mean age 14.1 years). Among those who had severe obesity (BMI 99th percentile) in kindergarten, more than 70 percent remained obese in eighth grade (figure 1). These observations provide support for the concept of interventions early in life to prevent and treat obesity. (See "Definition; epidemiology; and etiology of obesity in children and adolescents", section on 'Persistence into adulthood'.)


Sclerostin inhibitors for osteoporosis (January 2014)

Sclerostin is produced by osteocytes and inhibits bone formation. Inhibition of sclerostin, therefore, should enhance osteoblast function and improve bone mass. In a phase 2 trial in postmenopausal women, the highest monthly dose of a monoclonal anti-sclerostin antibody (romosozumab) led to greater increases in bone density at the lumbar spine, total hip, and femoral neck compared with oral alendronate (dosed weekly), subcutaneous teriparatide (daily) or placebo (monthly or every three months) [22]. Ramosozumab led to a transient increase in bone formation markers and a more sustained decrease in bone resorption markers, a pattern not seen with available osteoporosis therapies. There was an increased frequency of injection site reactions in the romosozumab group. Ongoing trials should provide more information about antifracture efficacy and safety. (See "Overview of the management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women", section on 'Emerging therapies'.)


Paraneoplastic hypothyroidism with large gastrointestinal stromal tumors (April 2014)

Hypothyroidism is a common side effect of antiangiogenic tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), such as sunitinib and regorafenib, which are used to treat advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). Newly emerging data suggest that patients with large GISTs may also develop paraneoplastic hypothyroidism that is unrelated to treatment [23]. The mechanism appears to be excessive degradation of thyroid hormone caused by overexpression of the thyroid hormone inactivating enzyme type 3 iodothyronine deiodinase (D3) within the tumor. The frequency with which this occurs is unclear. Clinicians should have a low index of suspicion for hypothyroidism in patients with a large GIST tumor burden even if antiangiogenic TKIs have never been used. (See "Epidemiology, classification, clinical presentation, prognostic features, and diagnostic work-up of gastrointestinal mesenchymal neoplasms including GIST", section on 'Clinical manifestations'.)

Alemtuzumab and thyroid dysfunction (January 2014)

Alemtuzumab is a monoclonal antibody used as an antineoplastic agent and for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. It increases the risk of autoimmune disorders, including thyroid disease. In a trial evaluating alemtuzumab versus interferon–beta-1a in patients with multiple sclerosis, thyroid dysfunction occurred more frequently in patients taking alemtuzumab (34 versus 6.5 percent) [24]. Among patients with alemtuzumab-related thyroid dysfunction, Graves’ hyperthyroidism occurred most commonly (22 percent), followed by hypothyroidism and subacute thyroiditis (7 and 4 percent, respectively). (See "Drug interactions with thyroid hormones", section on 'Other'.)


Vitamin D and mortality (February 2014)

Some observational studies suggest that low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are associated with higher mortality. In a meta-analysis of 56 randomized trials that compared any type of vitamin D supplementation with placebo or no intervention, vitamin D resulted in a small but significant reduction in all-cause mortality (12.5 versus 12.7 percent) [25]. When different forms of vitamin D were assessed, only vitamin D3 significantly reduced all-cause and cancer mortality. Since mortality has not been reported in all vitamin D trials, there is the possibility of reporting bias where trials showing a mortality effect would be more likely to include results on mortality. (See "Vitamin D and extraskeletal health", section on 'Mortality'.)

Guidelines for vitamin D supplementation from the American Geriatrics Society (February 2014)

The optimal intake of vitamin D and the optimal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D to prevent falls and fractures are uncertain. The American Geriatrics Society Workgroup on Vitamin D Supplementation recommends at least 1000 international units of vitamin D daily, as well as calcium supplements, for older adults (≥65 years) to reduce the risk of fractures and falls [26]. While some UpToDate authors suggest this dosing, other UpToDate authors suggest a lower dose (600 to 800 international units of vitamin D daily) for most older adults, in whom vitamin D intake and effective sun exposure are often suboptimal. (See "Vitamin D deficiency in adults: Definition, clinical manifestations, and treatment" and "Calcium and vitamin D supplementation in osteoporosis", section on 'Optimal intake'.)

Vitamin D and muscle strength (January 2014)

Observational studies have shown an association between poor vitamin D status and muscle weakness, but it is not clear if vitamin D supplementation improves muscle strength. Results from previous randomized trials have been conflicting. In a trial from Norway, 251 immigrant adults (from South Asia, Middle East, and Africa, mean age 36 to 39 years) with vitamin D deficiency (mean serum 25(OH)D 10.4 ng/mL [26 nmol/L]) were randomly assigned to vitamin D3 supplementation or placebo [27]. After 16 weeks, there were no differences in measures of proximal leg muscle strength or handgrip strength. (See "Vitamin D and extraskeletal health", section on 'Muscle weakness'.)


Intensive insulin therapy in critically ill children (January 2014)

In critically ill adults, intensive insulin therapy (IIT) has not been shown to improve survival, and hypoglycemic events due to IIT may be associated with increased mortality. The effects of IIT in critically ill children are less well established. A randomized trial of nearly 1400 children in pediatric surgical intensive care units compared the effects of tight (blood glucose target 72 to 126 mg/dL [4 to 7 mmol/L]) and conventional (target 180 to 216 mg/dL [10 to 12 mmol/L]) glycemic control [28]. At 30 days, IIT did not affect mortality or number of ventilator-free days and resulted in more frequent episodes of severe hypoglycemia. However, the achieved target glucose level in the conventional group was lower than expected (114 mg/dL [6.3 mmol/L]), which may have limited the overall analysis. Although the optimal blood glucose level in critically ill children has not been well defined, these results suggest that, similar to adults, IIT is of no benefit and may be harmful when episodes of hypoglycemia are frequent. (See "Glycemic control and intensive insulin therapy in critical illness", section on 'Children'.)

Postmenopausal hormone therapy and primary open-angle glaucoma (February 2014)

Postmenopausal hormone therapy may reduce intraocular pressure and lower the risk of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), but the absolute risk reduction is small [29]. In a retrospective analysis of claims data from women over age 50 years, the calculated absolute risks of developing POAG for women taking four years of unopposed estrogen, combined estrogen-progestin, or no hormone therapy were 1.6, 1.7, and 2.1 percent, respectively. We do not consider this small reduction in glaucoma risk to be an important consideration in deciding whether to recommend short-term hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms. (See "Postmenopausal hormone therapy: Benefits and risks", section on 'Eyes'.)

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