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Open access

Daniela Gallo, Sara Rosetti, Ilaria Marcon, Elisabetta Armiraglio, Antonina Parafioriti, Graziella Pinotti, Giuseppe Perrucchini, Bohdan Patera, Linda Gentile, Maria Laura Tanda, Luigi Bartalena, and Eliana Piantanida

Summary

Brown tumors are osteoclastic, benign lesions characterized by fibrotic stroma, intense vascularization and multinucleated giant cells. They are the terminal expression of the bone remodelling process occurring in advanced hyperparathyroidism. Nowadays, due to earlier diagnosis, primary hyperparathyroidism keeps few of the classical manifestations and brown tumors are definitely unexpected. Thus, it may happen that they are misdiagnosed as primary or metastatic bone cancer. Besides bone imaging, endocrine evaluation including measurement of serum parathyroid hormone and calcium (Ca) levels supports the pathologist to address the diagnosis. Herein, a case of multiple large brown tumors misdiagnosed as a non-treatable osteosarcoma is described, with special regards to diagnostic work-up. After selective parathyroidectomy, treatment with denosumab was initiated and a regular follow-up was established. The central role of multidisciplinary approach involving pathologist, endocrinologist and oncologist in the diagnostic and therapeutic work-up is reported. In our opinion, the discussion of this case would be functional especially for clinicians and pathologists not used to the differential diagnosis in uncommon bone disorders.

Learning points:

  • Brown tumors develop during the remodelling process of bone in advanced and long-lasting primary or secondary hyperparathyroidism.

  • Although rare, they should be considered during the challenging diagnostic work-up of giant cell lesions.

  • Coexistence of high parathyroid hormone levels and hypercalcemia in primary hyperparathyroidism is crucial for the diagnosis.

  • A detailed imaging study includes bone X-ray, bone scintiscan and total body CT; to rule out bone malignancy, evaluation of bone lesion biopsy should include immunostaining for neoplastic markers as H3G34W and Ki67 index.

  • If primary hyperparathyroidism is confirmed, selective parathyroidectomy is the first-line treatment.

  • In advanced bone disease, treatment with denosumab should be considered, ensuring a strict control of Ca levels.

Open access

Florence Gunawan, Elizabeth George, and Mark Kotowicz

Summary

Denosumab is a fully human MAB that acts as a potent anti-resorptive by inhibiting activation of osteoclasts by inhibiting the receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B (RANK) ligand. Hypocalcaemia has been reported as one of the serious adverse sequelae of use of denosumab. We present a case of refractory hypocalcaemia following administration of a single dose of denosumab in a patient with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. The patient’s serum calcium and vitamin D concentrations and renal function were normal prior to denosumab administration. Serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) level was however elevated pre-morbidly consistent with known bone metastases. The patient was treated with high-dose oral and IV calcium without any appreciable response in serum calcium. During his 30-day hospital admission, he demonstrated disease progression with development of new liver metastases and bone marrow involvement. Normocalcaemia was not achieved despite 1 month of aggressive therapy. Given the patient was asymptomatic and prognosis guarded, he was eventually discharged for ongoing supportive care under the palliative care team.

Learning points:

  • Denosumab is a potent anti-resorptive therapy and hypocalcaemia is one of the known adverse effects.

  • Serum calcium and vitamin D concentrations must be replete prior to administration of denosumab to reduce the risk of hypocalcaemia.

  • Denosumab has been proven to be more effective than zoledronic acid in preventing skeletal-related adverse effects in patients with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer.

Open access

Nirusha Arnold, Victor O’Toole, Tien Huynh, Howard C Smith, Catherine Luxford, Roderick Clifton-Bligh, and Creswell J Eastman

Summary

Parathyroid-independent hypercalcaemia of pregnancy, due to biallelic loss of function of the P450 enzyme CYP24A1, the principal inactivator of 1,25(OH)2D results in hypervitaminosis D, hypercalcaemia and hypercalciuria. We report two cases of this disorder, with intractable hypercalcaemia, one occurring during gestation and into the postpartum, and the other in the postpartum period. Case 1, a 47-year-old woman with a twin pregnancy conceived by embryo transfer, presented with hypercalcaemia at 23 weeks gestation with subnormal serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) and normal serum 25-OH D levels. She was admitted to hospital at 31 weeks gestation with pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes and increasing hypercalcaemia. Caesarean section at 34 weeks gestation delivered two healthy females weighing 2.13 kg and 2.51 kg. At delivery, the patient’s serum calcium level was 2.90 mmol/L. Postpartum severe hypercalcaemia was treated successfully with Denosumab 60 mg SCI, given on two occasions. CYP24A1 testing revealed she was compound heterozygous for pathogenic variants c.427_429delGAA, (p.Glu143del) and c.1186C>T, (p.Arg396Trp). Case 2, a 36-year-old woman presented 4 days after the delivery of healthy twins with dyspnoea, bradycardia, severe headaches, hypertension and generalized tonic-clonic seizures after an uneventful pregnancy. She was hypercalcaemic with a suppressed PTH, normal 25(OH)D, and elevated 1,25(OH)2D levels. Her symptoms partially responded to i.v. saline and corticosteroids in the short term but bisphosphonates such as Pamidronate and Zoledronic acid did not result in sustained improvement. Denosumab 120 mg SCI successfully treated the hypercalcaemia which resolved completely 2 months post-partum. CYP24A1 testing revealed she was homozygous for the pathogenic variant c.427_429delGAA, (p.Glu143del).

Learning points:

  • Hypercalcaemia in pregnancy can be associated with considerable morbidity with few options available for management.

  • In non-PTH-related hypercalcaemia the diagnosis of CYP24A1 deficiency should be considered.

  • Making a definitive diagnosis of CYP24A1 deficiency by genetic testing delays the diagnosis, while the availability of serum 24,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (24,25(OH)2D) will expedite a diagnosis.

  • In pregnant women with CYP24A1 deficiency hypercalcaemia can worsen in the post-partum period and is more likely to occur with twin pregnancies but generally resolves within 2–3 months.

  • Therapeutic alternatives are limited in pregnancy and their effectiveness is short-lived and mostly ineffective. Denosumab used in both our patients after delivery was the most effective agent normalizing calcium and may have benefit as a long-term therapeutic agent in preventing complications in patients with CYP24A1 deficiency.

Open access

Andrew R Tang, Laura E Hinz, Aneal Khan, and Gregory A Kline

Summary

Hereditary hypophosphatemic rickets with hypercalciuria (HHRH) is a rare, autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the SLC34A3 gene that encodes the renal sodium-dependent phosphate cotransporter 2c (NaPi-IIc). It may present as intermittent mild hypercalcemia which may attract initial diagnostic attention but appreciation of concomitant hypophosphatemia is critical for consideration of the necessary diagnostic approach. A 21-year-old woman was assessed by adult endocrinology for low bone mass. She initially presented age two with short stature, nephrocalcinosis and mild intermittent hypercalcemia with hypercalciuria. She had no evidence of medullary sponge kidney or Fanconi syndrome and no bone deformities, pain or fractures. She had recurrent episodes of nephrolithiasis. In childhood, she was treated with hydrochlorothiazide to reduce urinary calcium. Upon review of prior investigations, she had persistent hypophosphatemia with phosphaturia, low PTH and a high-normal calcitriol. A diagnosis of HHRH was suspected and genetic testing confirmed a homozygous c.1483G>A (p.G495R) missense mutation of the SLC34A3 gene. She was started on oral phosphate replacement which normalized her serum phosphate, serum calcium and urine calcium levels over the subsequent 5 years. HHRH is an autosomal recessive condition that causes decreased renal reabsorption of phosphate, leading to hyperphosphaturia, hypophosphatemia and PTH-independent hypercalcemia due to the physiologic increase in calcitriol which also promotes hypercalciuria. Classically, patients present in childhood with bone pain, vitamin D-independent rickets and growth delay. This case of a SLC34A3 mutation illustrates the importance of investigating chronic hypophosphatemia even in the presence of other more common electrolyte abnormalities.

Learning points:

  • Hypophosphatemia is an important diagnostic clue that should not be ignored, even in the face of more common electrolyte disorders.

  • HHRH is a cause of PTH-independent hypophosphatemia that may also show hypercalcemia.

  • HHRH is a cause of hypophosphatemic nephrocalcinosis that should not be treated with calcitriol, unlike other congenital phosphate wasting syndromes.

  • Some congenital phosphate wasting disorders may not present until adolescence or early adulthood.

Open access

Carine Ghassan Richa, Khadija Jamal Saad, Ali Khaled Chaaban, and Mohamad Souheil El Rawas

Summary

The objective of the study is to report a case of acute pancreatitis secondary to hypercalcemia induced by primary hyperparathyroidism in a pregnant woman at the end of the first trimester. The case included a 32-year-old woman who was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and severe hypercalcemia refractory to many regimens of medical therapy in the first trimester of pregnancy. She was successfully treated with parathyroidectomy in the early second trimester with complete resolution of hypercalcemia and pancreatitis. Neonatal course was unremarkable. To our best knowledge, this is a rare case when primary hyperparathyroidism and its complications are diagnosed in the first trimester of pregnancy. In conclusion, primary hyperparathyroidism is a rare life-threatening condition to the fetus and mother especially when associated with complications such as pancreatitis. Early therapeutic intervention is important to reduce the morbidity and mortality. Parathyroidectomy performed in the second trimester can be the only solution.

Learning points:

  • Learning how to make diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism in a woman during the first trimester of pregnancy.

  • Understanding the complications of hypercalcemia and be aware of the high mortality and sequelae in both fetus and mother.

  • Providing the adequate treatment in such complicated cases with coordinated care between endocrinologists and obstetricians to ensure optimal outcomes.

Open access

Katsumi Taki, Takahiko Kogai, Junko Sakumoto, Takashi Namatame, and Akira Hishinuma

Summary

A de novo heterozygous inactivating mutation of calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) gene typically causes neonatal hyperparathyroidism (NHPT) with moderate hypercalcemia and hyperparathyroid bone disease. We present a case of asymptomatic hypocalciuric hypercalcemia with a de novo heterozygous mutation in CASR, S591C, which is primarily reported to be responsible for NHPT. A 54-year-old female was referred for investigation of asymptomatic hypercalcemia that was initially found in the 1980s but without a history of bone disease during the perinatal period. She had moderate hypercalcemia (12.4 mg/dl) and relative hypocalciuria (fractional extraction of calcium 1.07%) but normal intact parathyroid hormone and serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Pedigree analysis revealed that she carried a de novo heterozygous mutation of S591C, which she transmitted to an affected child with moderate hypercalcemia but not to other children, who had normal serum calcium levels. A de novo heterozygous CASR mutation that is responsible for NHPT may also present in individuals with asymptomatic hypocalciuric hypercalcemia. Caution is required when predicting course and outcome in a pedigree with CASR mutation, as well as incidental hypercalcemia, because of its variable phenotypes.

Learning points

  • The phenotype and severity of CASR mutations are thought to be dependent on genotypes.

  • We report an asymptomatic case of the de novo heterozygous S591C mutation in CASR, which has previously been reported as a responsible mutation of NHPT with bone diseases.

  • Variable phenotypes of CASR raise a cautionary note about predicting outcome by genotyping in a pedigree with CASR mutation.

Open access

E Castellano, M Pellegrino, R Attanasio, V Guarnieri, A Maffè, and G Borretta

Summary

We report the association of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) and Klinefelter's syndrome (KS) in a 22-year-old male complaining of worsening fatigue. PHPT was asymptomatic at the diagnosis, but the patient had worsening hypercalcemia and osteoporosis, and developed acute renal colic. He then underwent parathyroidectomy with resection of a single adenoma and normalization of calcium and parathyroid hormone levels. Clinical and therapeutic implications of this rare association are discussed.

Learning points

  • The coexistence of KS and PHPT is very uncommon.

  • Patients with mild PHPT often have nonspecific symptoms that may be confused and superimposed with those of hypogonadism.

  • KS patients, especially when young and already osteoporotic at diagnosis, should be screened for other causes of secondary osteoporosis, in particular PHPT.

Open access

Manas Ghosh, Ambarish Bhattacharya, Kaushik Ghosh, Atri Chatterjee, Sisir Chakraborty, and Sanat Kumar Jatua

Summary

Motor neuron disease (MND) is a progressive devastating neurodegenerative disease, which universally progresses towards death. Hence, every attempt should be made to find out if there are any treatable conditions, which can mimic MND. Herein, we describe a case of hypercalcaemia due to primary hyperparathyroidism confused as MND and subsequently cured with parathyroid surgery.

Learning points

  • Any patient with neurological disorder should have a screening of all the common electrolytes including calcium as electrolyte imbalance can present with paralysis (e.g. hypokalaemia) to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (e.g. hypercalcaemia).

  • No patient should be stamped as having MND without having a proper work-up of all its differentials as there might be a treatable condition masquerading as MND.

Open access

Sachiko-Tsukamoto Kawashima, Takeshi Usui, Yohei Ueda, Maiko-Kakita Kobayashi, Mika Tsuiki, Kanako Tanase-Nakao, Kazutaka Nanba, Tetsuya Tagami, Mitsuhide Naruse, Yoshiki Watanabe, Ryo Asato, Sumiko Kato, and Akira Shimatsu

Summary

Parathyroid cystic adenomas are often misdiagnosed as thyroid cysts and routine preoperative diagnostic tools, such as ultrasonography (US) or 99m technetium-sestamibi (99mTc-MIBI) scans, cannot clearly distinguish between these entities. We present a 67-year-old hypercalcemic woman with a cervical cystic lesion who had negative sestamibi scan results. Her laboratory data indicated primary hyperparathyroidism (serum calcium concentration 14.0 mg/dl, phosphate concentration 2.3 mg/dl, and intact parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentration 239 pg/ml). The cervical US and computed tomography scans revealed a large and vertically long cystic mass (12×11×54 mm). A mass was located from the upper end of the left thyroid lobe to the submandibular region and was not clearly distinguishable from the thyroid. For preoperative definitive diagnosis, we carried out a parathyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA) and PTH assay (PTH–FNA) of liquid aspirated from the cyst. The intact PTH–FNA concentration was 1.28×106 pg/ml, and the patient was diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism due to a cystic mass. She underwent a left upper parathyroidectomy and her serum calcium and intact PTH concentration immediately decreased to normal levels. This report describes the usefulness of PTH–FNA for localizing and differentiating an atypical functional parathyroid lesion from nonfunctional tissue in primary hyperparathyroidism.

Learning points

  • Cystic parathyroid lesions, even in the case of elevated PTH levels, can produce negative results in 99mTc-MIBI scans.

  • Preoperative diagnosis of parathyroid cysts detectable on US is possible by parathyroid FNA and PTH assay (PTH–FNA) of liquid aspirated from the cyst, if malignancy is not suspected.

  • PTH–FNA could be helpful in the differential diagnosis of an equivocal cervical tumor.

Open access

Kirun Gunganah, Ashley Grossman, and Maralyn Druce

Summary

A 22-year-old female student presented with a history of recurrent pancreatitis. The commonest causes of pancreatitis, including drugs, gallstones, corticosteroids, excess alcohol and hypertriglyceridaemia, were excluded. She was found to have an elevated serum calcium level that was considered to be the cause of her pancreatitis, with a detectable serum parathyroid hormone (PTH). An initial diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism was made. However, two neck explorations failed to reveal a parathyroid adenoma. She was referred to our unit three years later as her episodes of pancreatitis were becoming more frequent and her calcium level remained persistently elevated. Her investigations were as follows: elevated adjusted calcium level of 2.79 mmol/l (2.2–2.58), PTH level of 4.2 pmol/l (0.6–6.0), low 24 h urine calcium of 0.3 mmol/l and a urine calcium:creatinine ratio of <0.003. A clinical diagnosis of familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FHH) was made and confirmed on genetic testing that showed a c.1703 G>A mutation in the calcium-sensing receptor gene. Although the hypercalcaemia of FHH is usually without sequelae due to the generalised changes in calcium sensing, in the presence of this complication she was started on cinacalcet 30 mg daily. She had one further episode of pancreatitis with calcium levels ranging between 2.53 and 2.66 mmol/l. Her cinacalcet was gradually increased to 30 mg three times daily, maintaining her calcium levels in the range of 2.15–2.20 mmol/l. She has not had a further episode of pancreatitis for more than 2 years.

FHH is usually a benign condition with minimal complications from hypercalcaemia. Pancreatitis has been reported rarely, and no clear management strategy has been defined in these cases. Cinacalcet was successfully used in treating recurrent pancreatitis in a patient with FHH by maintaining calcium levels in the lower part of the reference range. Whether or not this is an effective long-term treatment remains yet to be seen.

Learning points

  • FHH is an important differential diagnosis for hypercalcaemia.

  • FHH can rarely cause pancreatitis.

  • No clear strategy is available to help in the management of patients with pancreatitis due to FHH.

  • Cinacalcet was effective in lowering serum calcium levels and reducing the frequency of pancreatitis in our patient with FHH.