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Open access

Maha Khalil Abass, Aisha Al Shamsi, Iftikhar Jan, Mohammed Suhail Yasin Masalawala, and Asma Deeb


The most frequent causes of pancreatitis classically have been known to be gallstones or alcohol. However, genetics can also play a key role in predisposing patients to both chronic and acute pancreatitis. The serine protease inhibitor Kazal type 1 (SPINK 1) gene is known to be strongly associated with pancreatitis. Patients with these underlying genetic mutations can have severe diseases with a high morbidity rate and frequent hospitalization. We report an Arab girl who presented with acute pancreatitis at the age of 7 years progressing to recurrent chronic pancreatitis over a few years. She had severe obesity from the age of 4 years and developed type 2 diabetes at the age of 12. She had a normal biliary system anatomy. Genetic analysis showed that she had combined heterozygous mutations in the SPINK1 gene (SPINK1, c.101A>G p.(Asn34Ser) and SPINK1, c.56-37T>C). Her parents were first-degree cousins, but neither had obesity. Mother was detected to have the same mutations. She had type 2 diabetes but never presented with pancreatitis. This case is the first to be reported from the Arab region with these combined mutations leading to recurrent chronic pancreatitis. It illustrates the importance of diagnosing the underlying genetic mutation in the absence of other known causes of pancreatitis. Considering the absence of pancreatitis history in the mother who did not have obesity but harboured the same mutations, we point out that severe obesity might be a triggering factor of pancreatitis in the presence of the mutations in SPINK1 gene in this child. While this is not an assumption from a single patient, we show that not all carriers of this mutation develop the disease even within the same family. Triggering factors like severe obesity might have a role in developing the disease.

Learning points

  • Acute recurrent pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis are uncommon in children but might be underdiagnosed.

  • Biliary tract anomalies and dyslipidaemias are known causative factors for pancreatitis, but pancreatitis can be seen in children with intact biliary system.

  • Genetic diagnosis should be sought in children with pancreatitis in the absence of known underlying predisposing factors.

  • SPINK1 mutations can predispose to an early-onset severe recurrent pancreatitis and acute pancreatitis.

Open access

Yotsapon Thewjitcharoen, Soontaree Nakasatien, Tsz Fung Tsoi, Cadmon K P Lim, Thep Himathongkam, and Juliana C N Chan


Hepatocyte nuclear factor 1β (HNF1B) gene is located on chromosome 17q12. It is a transcription factor implicated in the early embryonic development of multiple organs. HNF1B-associated disease is a multi-system disorder with variable clinical phenotypes. There are increasing reports suggesting that the 17q12 deletion syndrome should be suspected in patients with maturity-onset diabetes of the young type 5 (MODY5) due to the deletion of HNF1B gene. In contrast to classical 17q12 syndrome in childhood with neurological disorders and autism, patients with HNF1B-MODY deletion rarely had neuropsychological disorders or learning disabilities. The diagnosis of 17q12 deletion syndrome highlighted the phenotypic heterogeneity of HNF1B-MODY patients. In this study, we report the clinical course of a Thai woman with young-onset diabetes mellitus and hypertriglyceridemia as a predominant feature due to HNF1B deletion as part of the 17q12 deletion syndrome. Our findings and others suggest that hypertriglyceridemia should be considered a syndromic feature of HNF1B-MODY. Our case also highlights the need to use sequencing with dosage analyses to detect point mutations and copy number variations to avoid missing a whole deletion of HNF1B.

Learning points

  • Maturity-onset diabetes of the young type 5 (MODY5) may be caused by heterozygous point mutations or whole gene deletion of HNF1B. Recent studies revealed that complete deletion of the HNF1B gene may be part of the 17q12 deletion syndrome with multi-system involvement.

  • The length of the deletion can contribute to the phenotypic variability in patients with HNF1B-MODY due to whole gene deletion.

  • Using next-generation sequencing alone to diagnose MODY could miss a whole gene deletion or copy number variations. Specialized detection methods such as microarray analysis or low-pass whole genome sequencing are required to accurately diagnose HNF1B-MODY as a component of the 17q12 deletion syndrome.

  • Molecular diagnosis is necessary to distinguish other acquired cystic kidney diseases in patients with type 2 diabetes which could phenocopy HNF1B-MODY.

  • Hypertriglyceridemia is a possible metabolic feature in patients with HNF1B-MODY due to 17q12 deletion syndrome.

Open access

Carolina Chaves, Teresa Kay, and João Anselmo


Leptin is secreted by adipocytes in response to fat storage and binds to its receptor (LEPR), which is ubiquitously expressed throughout the body. Leptin regulates energy expenditure and is anorexigenic. In this study, we describe the clinical and hormonal findings of three siblings with a personal history of rapid weight gain during the first months of life. They had delayed puberty, high levels of FSH (15.6 ± 3.7 mUI/mL; reference: 1.5–12.4) and LH (12.3 ± 2.2 mUI/mL; reference: 1.7–8.6), normal oestradiol and total testosterone and successful fertility. None of the patients had dyslipidemia, diabetes or thyroid disease. Next-generation sequencing identified a pathogenic homozygous variant c.2357T>C, p.(Leu786Pro) in LEPR. Their parents and children were heterozygous for this mutation. We compared clinical and biochemical findings of homozygous carriers with first-degree heterozygous family members and ten randomly selected patients with adult-onset morbid obesity. Homozygous carriers of the mutation had significantly higher BMI (32.2 ± 1.7 kg/m2 vs 44.5 ± 7.1 kg/m2, P = 0.023) and increased serum levels of leptin (26.3 ± 9.3 ng/mL vs 80 ± 36.4 ng/mL, P = 0.028) than their heterozygous relatives. Compared with the ten patients with adult-onset morbid obesity, serum levels of leptin were not significantly higher in homozygous carriers (53.8 ± 24.1 ng/mL vs 80 ± 36.4 ng/mL, P = 0.149), and thus serum levels of leptin were not a useful discriminative marker of LEPR mutations. We described a rare three-generation family with monogenic obesity due to a mutation in LEPR. Patients with early onset obesity should be considered for genetic screening, as the identification of mutations may allow personalized treatment options (e.g. MC4R-agonists) and targeted successful weight loss.

Learning points

  • The early diagnosis of monogenic forms of obesity can be of great interest since new treatments for these conditions are becoming available.

  • Since BMI and leptin levels in patients with leptin receptor mutations are not significantly different from those found in randomly selected morbid obese patients, a careful medical history is mandatory to suspect this condition.

  • Loss of leptin receptor function has been associated with infertility. However, our patients were able to conceive, emphasizing the need for genetic counselling in affected patients with this condition.

Open access

Inês Vieira, Sofia Lopes, Margarida Bastos, Luísa Ruas, Dírcea Rodrigues, and Isabel Paiva


The coexistence of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NFT1) and Turner syndrome (TS) has only been reported in a few patients and may represent a diagnostic challenge. We describe the case of a 16-year-old girl, with a prior clinical diagnosis of NFT1, who was referred to Endocrinology appointments for the etiological study of primary amenorrhea. Evaluation of the anterior pituitary function was requested and hypergonadotropic hypogonadism was detected. During the etiological study, a 45X karyotype was found and TS was diagnosed. The fact that NFT1 can also be associated with short stature, short broad neck and hypertelorism was likely responsible for TS being diagnosed in late adolescence. As both TS and NFT1 are relatively common genetic disorders, it is important to be alert to the possibility that the presence of one disease does not invalidate the other.

Learning points

  • The concomitant presence of two syndromes in the same patient is unlikely and represents a diagnostic challenge.

  • Some phenotypic characteristics and clinical manifestations may be shared by several syndromes.

  • Some syndromes, such as neurofibromatosis type 1 may have very heterogeneous presentations.

  • It is important to be alert to the characteristics that are not explained by the initial diagnosis.

  • If such features are present, diagnostic work-up must be performed regardless of the initial syndromic diagnosis.

Open access

Pranav Gupta, Karen Loechner, Briana C Patterson, and Eric Felner


Insulinomas are a rare cause of persistent hypoglycemia in a previously healthy child. In addition to symptoms of hypoglycemia, individuals with insulinomas usually present with a history of incessant caloric intake and weight gain due to a constant need to counter hypoglycemia. In addition to an extensive review of the literature, we report the first case of an insulinoma coexisting with reduced appetite secondary to anorexia nervosa in an adolescent female.

Learning points

  • Eliciting a detailed family history is important in hypoglycemia cases.

  • Obtaining a thorough dietary intake, weight history, and menstrual cycles (in females) and considering a psychiatric consultation for an eating disorder when indicated.

  • Although rare in the pediatric population, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 syndrome should be considered in the evaluation of children and adolescents with hypoglycemia who also have a family history of pituitary, pancreatic, and/or parathyroid endocrinopathies.

Open access

Adrian Po Zhu Li, Sheela Sathyanarayan, Salvador Diaz-Cano, Sobia Arshad, Eftychia E Drakou, Royce P Vincent, Ashley B Grossman, Simon J B Aylwin, and Georgios K Dimitriadis


A 49-year-old teacher presented to his general physician with lethargy and lower limb weakness. He had noticed polydipsia, polyuria, and had experienced weight loss, albeit with an increase in central adiposity. He had no concomitant illnesses and took no regular medications. He had hypercalcaemia (adjusted calcium: 3.34 mmol/L) with hyperparathyroidism (parathyroid hormone: 356 ng/L) and hypokalaemia (K: 2.7 mmol/L) and was admitted for i.v. potassium replacement. A contrast-enhanced CT chest/abdomen/pelvis scan revealed a well-encapsulated anterior mediastinal mass measuring 17 × 11 cm with central necrosis, compressing rather than invading adjacent structures. A neck ultrasound revealed a 2 cm right inferior parathyroid lesion. On review of CT imaging, the adrenals appeared normal, but a pancreatic lesion was noted adjacent to the uncinate process. His serum cortisol was 2612 nmol/L, and adrenocorticotrophic hormone was elevated at 67 ng/L, followed by inadequate cortisol suppression to 575 nmol/L from an overnight dexamethasone suppression test. His pituitary MRI was normal, with unremarkable remaining anterior pituitary biochemistry. His admission was further complicated by increased urine output to 10 L/24 h and despite three precipitating factors for the development of diabetes insipidus including hypercalcaemia, hypokalaemia, and hypercortisolaemia, due to academic interest, a water deprivation test was conducted. An 18flurodeoxyglucose-PET (FDG-PET) scan demonstrated high avidity of the mediastinal mass with additionally active bilateral superior mediastinal nodes. The pancreatic lesion was not FDG avid. On 68Ga DOTATE-PET scan, the mediastinal mass was moderately avid, and the 32 mm pancreatic uncinate process mass showed significant uptake. Genetic testing confirmed multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1.

Learning points

  • In young patients presenting with primary hyperparathyroidism, clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of other underlying endocrinopathies.

    In patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1) and ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone syndrome (EAS), clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of this originating from a neoplasm above or below the diaphragm.

  • Although relatively rare compared with sporadic cases, thymic carcinoids secondary to MEN-1 may also be associated with EAS.

  • Electrolyte derangement, in particular hypokalaemia and hypercalcaemia, can precipitate mild nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.

Open access

Annabelle M Warren, Peter R Ebeling, Vivian Grill, Ego Seeman, and Shoshana Sztal-Mazer


Hypophosphatasia (HPP) is a rare and under-recognised genetic defect in bone mineralisation. Patients presenting with fragility fractures may be mistakenly diagnosed as having osteoporosis and prescribed antiresorptive therapy, a treatment which may increase fracture risk. Adult-onset HPPhypophosphatasia was identified in a 40-year-old woman who presented with bilateral atypical femoral fractures after 4 years of denosumab therapy. A low serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and increased serum vitamin B6 level signalled the diagnosis, which was later confirmed by identification of two recessive mutations of the ALPL gene. The patient was treated with teriparatide given the unavailability of ALP enzyme-replacement therapy (asfotase alfa). Fracture healing occurred, but impaired mobility persisted. HPP predisposes to atypical femoral fracture (AFF) during antiresorptive therapy; hence, bisphosphonates and denosumab are contraindicated in this condition. Screening patients with fracture or ‘osteoporosis’ to identify a low ALP level is recommended.

Learning points

  • Hypophosphatasia (HPP) is a rare and under-recognised cause of bone fragility produced by impaired matrix mineralisation that can be misdiagnosed as a fragility fracture due to age-related bone loss.

  • Antiresorptive therapy is contraindicated in HPP.

  • Low serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) provides a clue to the diagnosis.

  • Elevated serum vitamin B6 (an ALP substrate) is indicative of HPP, while identification of a mutation in the ALPL gene is confirmatory.

  • Enzyme therapy with recombinant ALP (asfotase alfa) is currently prohibitively costly.

  • Treatment with anabolic bone agents such as teriparatide has been reported, but whether normally mineralized bone is formed requires further study.

Open access

Ryizan Nizar, Nathan W P Cantley, and Jonathan C Y Tang


A 33-year-old gentleman of Egyptian heritage presented with a 21 years history of unexplained and recurrent hypercalcaemia, nephrolithiasis, nephrocalcinosis, and myocarditis. A similar history was also found in two first-degree relatives. Further investigation into the vitamin D metabolism pathway identified the biochemical hallmarks of infantile hypercalcaemia type 1 (IIH). A homozygous, likely pathogenic, variant in CYP24A1 was found on molecular genetic analysis confirming the diagnosis. Management now focuses on removing excess vitamin D from the metabolic pathway as well as reducing calcium intake to achieve serum-adjusted calcium to the middle of the reference range. If undiagnosed, IIH can cause serious renal complications and metabolic bone disease.

Learning points

  • Infantile hypercalcaemia type 1 (IIH) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterised by homozygous mutations in the CYP24A1 gene that encodes the 24-hydroxylase enzyme used to convert active vitamin D metabolites such as 1,25-(OH)2-vitamin D into their inactive form.

  • IIH should be questioned in individuals presenting with a history of unexplained hypercalcaemia, especially if presenting from childhood and/or where there is an accompanying family history of the same in first and/or second degree relatives, causing complications such as nephrocalcinosis, pericarditis, and calcium-based nephrolithiasis.

  • Associated biochemistry of IIH is persistent mild to moderate hypercalcaemia, normal or raised 25-(OH)-vitamin D and elevated 1,25-(OH)2-vitamin D. An elevated ratio of 25-(OH)-vitamin D to 24,25-(OH)2-vitamin D can be a useful marker of defects in the 24-hydroxylase enzyme, whose measurement can be facilitated through the supra-regional assay service.

  • Management should focus on limiting the amount of vitamin D introduced into the body either via sunlight exposure or supplementation in addition to calcium dietary restriction to try and maintain appropriate calcium homeostasis

Open access

Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni, Donato Iacovazzo, Jane Evanson, Anju Sahdev, Jacqueline Trouillas, Lorraine McAndrew, Tom R Kurzawinski, David Bryant, Khalid Hussain, Satya Bhattacharya, and Márta Korbonits


A male patient with a germline mutation in MEN1 presented at the age of 18 with classical features of gigantism. Previously, he had undergone resection of an insulin-secreting pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (pNET) at the age of 10 years and had subtotal parathyroidectomy due to primary hyperparathyroidism at the age of 15 years. He was found to have significantly elevated serum IGF-1, GH, GHRH and calcitonin levels. Pituitary MRI showed an overall bulky gland with a 3 mm hypoechoic area. Abdominal MRI showed a 27 mm mass in the head of the pancreas and a 6 mm lesion in the tail. Lanreotide-Autogel 120 mg/month reduced GHRH by 45% and IGF-1 by 20%. Following pancreaticoduodenectomy, four NETs were identified with positive GHRH and calcitonin staining and Ki-67 index of 2% in the largest lesion. The pancreas tail lesion was not removed. Post-operatively, GHRH and calcitonin levels were undetectable, IGF-1 levels normalised and GH suppressed normally on glucose challenge. Post-operative fasting glucose and HbA1c levels have remained normal at the last check-up. While adolescent-onset cases of GHRH-secreting pNETs have been described, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of ectopic GHRH in a paediatric setting leading to gigantism in a patient with MEN1. Our case highlights the importance of distinguishing between pituitary and ectopic causes of gigantism, especially in the setting of MEN1, where paediatric somatotroph adenomas causing gigantism are extremely rare.

Learning points

  • It is important to diagnose gigantism and its underlying cause (pituitary vs ectopic) early in order to prevent further growth and avoid unnecessary pituitary surgery. The most common primary tumour sites in ectopic acromegaly include the lung (53%) and the pancreas (34%) (): 76% of patients with a pNET secreting GHRH showed a MEN1 mutation ().

  • Plasma GHRH testing is readily available in international laboratories and can be a useful diagnostic tool in distinguishing between pituitary acromegaly mediated by GH and ectopic acromegaly mediated by GHRH. Positive GHRH immunostaining in the NET tissue confirms the diagnosis.

  • Distinguishing between pituitary (somatotroph) hyperplasia secondary to ectopic GHRH and pituitary adenoma is difficult and requires specialist neuroradiology input and consideration, especially in the MEN1 setting. It is important to note that the vast majority of GHRH-secreting tumours (lung, pancreas, phaeochromocytoma) are expected to be visible on cross-sectional imaging (median diameter 55 mm) (). Therefore, we suggest that a chest X-ray and an abdominal ultrasound checking the adrenal glands and the pancreas should be included in the routine work-up of newly diagnosed acromegaly patients.

Open access

David Joseph Tansey, Jim John Egan, Michelle Murray, Katie Padfield, John Conneely, and Mensud Hatunic


Phaeochromocytoma is a rare catecholamine-producing tumour. We present the case of phaeochromocytoma in a young man with a background history of a double-lung transplant for cystic fibrosis (CF). Clinical case: A 25-year-old man, with a background history of CF, CF-related diabetes (CFRD) and a double-lung transplant in 2012 was presented to the emergency department with crampy abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. He was diagnosed with distal intestinal obstructions syndrome (DIOS). Contrast-enhanced CT imaging of the abdomen and pelvis showed a 3.4 cm right adrenal lesion. This was confirmed by a subsequent MRI of adrenal glands that demonstrated moderate FDG uptake, suggestive of a diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma. The patient was noted to be hypertensive with a blood pressure averaging 170/90 mm/Hg despite treatment with three different anti-hypertensive medications – amlodipine, telmisartan and doxazosin. He had hypertension for the last 3 years and had noted increasingly frequent sweating episodes recently, without palpitations or headache. Laboratory analysis showed elevated plasma normetanephrines (NMN) of 3167 pmol/L (182–867) as well as elevated metanephrines (MN) of 793 pmol/L (61–377) and a high 3-MT of 257 pmol/L (<185). Once cathecholamine excess was identified biochemically, we proceeded to functional imaging to further investigate. MIBG scan showed a mild increase in the uptake of tracer to the right adrenal gland compared to the left. The case was discussed at a multidisciplinary (MDT) meeting at which the diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma was made. Following a challenging period of 4 weeks to control the patient’s blood pressure with an alpha-blocker and beta-blocker, the patient had an elective right adrenalectomy, with normalisation of his blood pressure post-surgery. The histopathology of the excised adrenal gland was consistent with a 3 cm phaeochromocytoma with no adverse features associated with malignant potential.

Learning points

  • Five to ten per cent of patients have a secondary cause for hypertension. Phaeochromocytomas are rare tumours, originating in chromaffin cells and they represent 0.1–1.0% of all secondary hypertension cases.

  • Secondary causes should be investigated in cases where:

  • Patient is presenting <20 years of age or >50 years of age,

  • There is refractory hypertension, or

  • There is serious end-organ damage present.

  • Patients may present with the triad of headache, sweating and palpitations or more vague, non-specific symptoms.

  • Patients with suspected phaeochromocytoma should have 24-h urinary catecholamines measured and if available, plasma metanephrines measured. Those with abnormal biochemical tests should be further investigated with imaging to locate the tumour.

  • Medical treatment involves alpha- and beta-blockade for at least 2 to 3 weeks before surgery as well as rehydration.

  • There is a possibility of relapse so high-risk patients require life-long follow-up.