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Open access

Jenny S W Yun, Chris McCormack, Michelle Goh, and Cherie Chiang


Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. However, AN has been rarely reported in patients with insulinoma, a state of persistent hyperinsulinemia. We present a case of metastatic insulinoma, in whom AN manifested after the first cycle of peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). A 40-year-old man was diagnosed with metastatic insulinoma after 5 months of symptomatic hypoglycemia. Within 1 month post PRRT, the patient became euglycemic but developed a pigmented, pruritic rash which was confirmed on biopsy as AN. We discuss the rare manifestation of AN in subjects with insulinoma, the role of insulin in the pathogenesis of AN, malignant AN in non-insulin-secreting malignancies and association with other insulin-resistant endocrinopathies such as acromegaly.

Learning points

  • Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis which is typically asymptomatic and associated with the hyperinsulinemic state.

  • Malignant AN can rapidly spread, cause pruritus and affect mucosa and the oral cavity.

  • AN is extremely rare in patients with insulinoma despite marked hyperinsulinemia.

  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy might have triggered TGF-α secretion in this subject which led to malignant AN.

  • Rapid spread or unusual distribution of pruritic AN warrants further investigation to exclude underlying malignancy.

Open access

David Kishlyansky, Gregory Kline, Amita Mahajan, Konstantin Koro, Janice L Pasieka, and Patrick Champagne


An adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing pheochromocytoma (PCC)/paraganglioma is the cause of ectopic Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in 5.2% of cases reported in the literature. We present a previously healthy 43-year-old woman admitted to our hospital with cushingoid features and hypertensive urgency (blood pressure = 200/120 mmHg). Her 24-h urinary free cortisol was >4270 nmol/day (reference range (RR) = 100–380 nmol/day) with a plasma ACTH of 91.5 pmol/L (RR: 2.0–11.5 pmol/L). Twenty-four-hour urinary metanephrines were increased by 30-fold. Whole-body CT demonstrated a 3.7-cm left adrenal mass with a normal-appearing right adrenal gland. Sellar MRI showed a 5-mm sellar lesion. MIBG scan revealed intense uptake only in the left adrenal mass. She was managed pre-operatively with ketoconazole and phenoxybenzamine and underwent an uneventful left laparoscopic adrenalectomy, which resulted in biochemical resolution of her hypercortisolemia and catecholamine excess. Histology demonstrated a PCC (Grading System for Adrenal Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma score 5) with positive ACTH staining by immunohistochemistry. A PCC gene panel showed no mutations and there has been no evidence of recurrence at 24 months. This case highlights the difficult nature of localizing the source of CS in the setting of a co-existing PCC and sellar mass.

Learning points

  • An adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing pheochromocytoma (PCC) is an important item to be considered in all patients presenting with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome (CS).

  • In exceptionally rare cases, patients with ectopic CS may present with multiple lesions, and a systematic approach considering all potential sources is crucial to avoid misdiagnosis.

  • CS with a large adrenal mass but lacking contralateral adrenal atrophy should raise suspicion of an ACTH-dependent process.

  • In patients with clinical suspicion of PCC, clinicians should be mindful of the use of steroids and beta-blockers without appropriate alpha blockade as they may precipitate an adrenergic crisis.

Open access

Durgesh Prasad Chaudhary, Tshristi Rijal, Kunal Kishor Jha, and Harpreet Saluja


Combined pituitary hormonal deficiency (CPHD) is a rare disease that results from mutations in genes coding for transcription factors that regulate the differentiation of pituitary cells. PROP1 gene mutations are one of the etiological diagnoses of congenital panhypopituitarism, however symptoms vary depending on phenotypic expression. We present a case of psychosis in a 36-year-old female with congenital panhypopituitarism who presented with paranoia, flat affect and ideas of reference without a delirious mental state, which resolved with hormone replacement and antipsychotics. Further evaluation revealed that she had a homozygous mutation of PROP1 gene. In summary, compliance with hormonal therapy for patients with hypopituitarism appears to be effective for the prevention and treatment of acute psychosis symptoms.

Learning points:

  • Patients with PROP1 gene mutation may present with psychosis with no impairment in orientation and memory.

  • There is currently inadequate literature on this topic, and further study on the possible mechanisms of psychosis as a result of endocrine disturbance is required.

  • Compliance with hormonal therapy for patients with hypopituitarism appears to be effective for prevention and treatment of acute psychosis symptoms.

Open access

Kirun Gunganah, Ashley Grossman, and Maralyn Druce


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.