COMPORLab: Collaborative team promotes improvements in patients’ quality of life

Posted October 28, 2020

Scientific research is key for improving population’s quality of life, since it provides information on the impact that some diseases, conditions, and treatments may have on an individual. This is one of the goals of COMPORLab – the Body Composition Laboratory implemented with the support of INCT Hormona and that operates at the Clinical Research Center of Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre.

This venue is a complete, active, inter-team collaborative laboratory, which allows to determine which aspects of body composition and which variables may influence the lives of certain groups. Polycystic ovary syndrome (POS), climacteric, and gender incongruence are some of the research lines developed by the group.

In COMPORLab, according to the researcher and co-responsible for the unit, Dr. Tayane Muniz Fighera, the group also acts with postmenopausal women, in order to assess the impact of hormone changes at this stage of life. “Using a bone densitometry equipment, we quantify bone mass and assess the impact of hormone replacement therapy on bone health,” she comments.

According to the physician, the team performs the assessment of different bodily areas, including fat, muscle mass, and bone mass. “We also perform a calorimetric analysis, to assess the resting metabolic rate of each individual, as well as clinical and nutritional assessments and physical function testing,” she explains. “All this allows us to assess the response of these parameters in some specific hormone conditions, such as climacteric, POS, and gender incongruence,” she says.

Dr. Fighera explains that COMPORLab has a crucial importance for health development and promotion. “The result of our investigations provides a scientific basis for the creation of public health conducts and strategies,” she concludes.

Liquid silicone implants in transgender women

In one of the investigations conducted in the Laboratory, the group assessed the effects of the use of industrial liquid silicon in the gluteal region on bone density of transgender women receiving estrogen therapy. Forty-six patients with and without silicone injection in the gluteal region were selected. All of them underwent clinical and hormonal evaluation, as well as bone densitometry.

According to Dr. Fighera, transgender women with industrial silicone had greater hip bone mineral density, compared to those without implants. No difference was observed in other regions. “This finding probably represents a ‘false’ bone density increase resulting from the presence of the presence of gluteal prosthesis, an artifact between the patient and the equipment” .

These results suggest that, in these patients, the hip is not a reliable site for assessing bone mass and risk of osteoporosis”, she concludes. The results of this research were published in Arch Osteoporosis in September.

It is worth noting that the use of industrial silicone is not approved by medical councils and societies, but some transgender women undergo implantation procedure with no prescription with non-medical professionals. The INCT does not approve its use, but follows the medical care protocol and performs assessment when receives cases of this type.

Metformin and Osteoporosis

The association between use of metformin and risk for osteoporosis was assessed by COMPORLab’s researchers. The explanation for this association would be that the medication used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes could reduce cellular senescence, thus having a positive influence on bone cells.

The group participated in a collaborative international study conducted with 1,259 women from different Latin American countries. All patients were aged over 40 years old, did not make use of medications for osteoporosis, and were on metformin. “After the analysis, the study showed that the use of metformin, regardless of the presence of type 2 diabetes or obesity, was associated with a lower risk of osteoporosis in adult women,” concludes. Data from this study are available in the scientific paper published in last May.

Cachexia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

The prevalence of cachexia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis was also assessed in a study with the participation of COMPORLab’s researchers. Dr. Fighera reported that 90 patients were recruited for this 12-month study. “There are limited data on the prevalence and progression of in patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as on associated factors. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of cachexia and its association with potential clinical factors,” the specialist explains.

During the study period, clinical features, body composition, and physical function were assessed. The specialists concluded that, in the study cohort, rheumatoid cachexia was a common finding. “Disease activity and use of biologic therapies were associated with changes on body composition and physical function, underscoring the importance of aiming for remission when treating rheumatoid arthritis,” concludes Dr. Fighera. The study was part of the doctoral thesis by Rafaela Espirito Santo, advised by Prof. Ricardo Xavier, and was recently published.