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Open access

Ana Dugic, Michael Kryk, Claudia Mellenthin, Christoph Braig, Lorenzo Catanese, Sandy Petermann, Jürgen Kothmann, and Steffen Mühldorfer

Summary

Drinking fruit juice is an increasingly popular health trend, as it is widely perceived as a source of vitamins and nutrients. However, high fructose load in fruit beverages can have harmful metabolic effects. When consumed in high amounts, fructose is linked with hypertriglyceridemia, fatty liver and insulin resistance. We present an unusual case of a patient with severe asymptomatic hypertriglyceridemia (triglycerides of 9182 mg/dL) and newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus, who reported a daily intake of 15 L of fruit juice over several weeks before presentation. The patient was referred to our emergency department with blood glucose of 527 mg/dL and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) of 17.3%. Interestingly, features of diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state were absent. The patient was overweight with an otherwise unremarkable physical exam. Lipase levels, liver function tests and inflammatory markers were closely monitored and remained unremarkable. The initial therapeutic approach included i.v. volume resuscitation, insulin and heparin. Additionally, plasmapheresis was performed to prevent potentially fatal complications of hypertriglyceridemia. The patient was counseled on balanced nutrition and detrimental effects of fruit beverages. He was discharged home 6 days after admission. At a 2-week follow-up visit, his triglyceride level was 419 mg/dL, total cholesterol was 221 mg/dL and HbA1c was 12.7%. The present case highlights the role of fructose overconsumption as a contributory factor for severe hypertriglyceridemia in a patient with newly diagnosed diabetes. We discuss metabolic effects of uncontrolled fructose ingestion, as well as the interplay of primary and secondary factors, in the pathogenesis of hypertriglyceridemia accompanied by diabetes.

Learning points

  • Excessive dietary fructose intake can exacerbate hypertriglyceridemia in patients with underlying type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and absence of diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state.

  • When consumed in large amounts, fructose is considered a highly lipogenic nutrient linked with postprandial hypertriglyceridemia and de novo hepatic lipogenesis (DNL).

  • Severe lipemia (triglyceride plasma level > 9000 mg/dL) could be asymptomatic and not necessarily complicated by acute pancreatitis, although lipase levels should be closely monitored.

  • Plasmapheresis is an effective adjunct treatment option for rapid lowering of high serum lipids, which is paramount to prevent acute complications of severe hypertriglyceridemia.

Open access

Punith Kempegowda, Wentin Chen, Eka Melson, Annabelle Leong, Prashant Amrelia, and Ateeq Syed

Summary

A 37-year-old female of South Asian origin was referred to our diabetes clinic for evaluation of an unusual finding during her retinal screening. Her retinal blood vessels appeared white in contrast to the normal pink-red colour. She had type I hyperlipidaemia, confirmed by genotype, and was recently diagnosed with diabetes, secondary to pancreatic insufficiency, for which she had suboptimal control and multiple hospitalisations with recurrent pancreatitis. On examination, she had multiple naevi on her skin; the rest of the examination was unremarkable. The patient did not report any visual disturbances and had intact visual acuity. Investigations showed raised total cholesterol (12.5 mmol/L) and triglycerides (57.7 mmol/L). Following evaluation, the patient was diagnosed with lipaemia retinalis, secondary to type I hyperlipidaemia. The patient was managed conservatively to reduce the cholesterol and triglyceride burdens. However, therapies with orlistat, statin, fibrates and cholestyramine failed. Only a prudent diet, omega-3 fish oil, medium-chain triglycerides oil and glycaemic control optimised with insulin showed some improvements in her lipid profile. Unfortunately, this led her to becoming fat-soluble vitamin deficient; hence, she was treated with appropriate supplementation. She was also recently started on treatment with volanesorsen. Following this, her lipid parameters improved and lipaemia retinalis resolved.

Learning points

  • Lipaemia retinalis is an uncommon incidental finding of type I hyperlipidaemia that may not affect vision.

  • Management of associated dyslipidaemia is challenging with minimal response to conventional treatment.

  • Increased awareness of lipaemia retinalis and specialist management is needed as part of regular patient monitoring and personalised management.

Open access

Priya Darshani Chhiba and David Segal

Summary

Recombinant human growth hormone therapy (rhGH) has been available since 1985 for a variety of conditions and has expanded the indications for rhGH therapy and the number of patients receiving therapy. The very nature of the therapy exposes individuals to years of injections. There are a number of well-known adverse events, however, a lesser-known and rarely reported adverse event of rhGH therapy is localized lipoatrophy. We report nine cases of localized lipoatrophy during rhGH therapy accounting for 14.5% of patients taking rhGH presenting to a single centre for routine follow-up over just a 2-month period. The development of localized lipoatrophy does not appear to be age, indication or dose-related but rather related to repeated administration of rhGH into a limited number of sites. The most likely putative mechanism is the local lipolytic action of growth hormone (GH) itself, although the possibility of an excipient-based interaction cannot be excluded. Given the high prevalence of this adverse event and the potential to prevent it with adequate site rotation, we can recommend that patients be informed of the possible development of localized lipoatrophy. Doctors and nurses should closely examine injection sites at each visit, and site rotation should be emphasized during injection technique education.

Learning points

  • There are a number of well-known adverse events, however, a lesser-known and rarely reported adverse event of rhGH therapy is localized lipoatrophy.

  • Examination of the injection sites at each visit by the treating healthcare practitioner.

  • To advise the parents/caregivers/patients to change their injection site with each injection.

  • To advise the parents/caregivers/patients to change the needles after every use.

  • For parents, caregivers and patients to self-inspect their injection sites and have a high alert for the development of lipoatrophy and to then immediately report it to their doctor.

Open access

Fiona Melzer, Corinna Geisler, Dominik M Schulte, and Matthias Laudes

Summary

Familial partial lipodystrophy (FPLD) syndromes are rare heterogeneous disorders especially in women characterized by selective loss of adipose tissue, reduced leptin levels and severe metabolic abnormalities. Here we report a 34-year-old female with a novel heterozygotic c.485 thymine>guanine (T>G) missense variant (p.phenylalanine162cysteine; (Phe162Cys)) in exon 4 of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) gene, developing a non-ketotic diabetes and severe hypertriglyceridemia with triglyceride concentrations >50 mmol/L. In this case, a particular interesting feature in comparison to other known PPARG mutations in FPLD is that while glycaemic control could be achieved through standard anti-diabetic medication, hypertriglyceridemia did neither respond to fibrate nor to omega-3-fatty acid therapy. This might suggest a lipid metabolism driven phenotype of the novel PPARG c.485T>G missense variant. Notably, recombinant leptin replacement therapy (metreleptin (Myalepta®)) was initiated showing a rapid and profound effect on triglyceride levels as well as on liver function tests and satiety feeling. Unfortunately, severe allergic skin reactions developed at the side of injection which could be covered by anti-histaminc treatment. We conclude that the heterozygous PPARG c.485T>G variant is a yet undescribed molecular basis underlying FPLD with difficulties predominantly to control hypertriglyceridemia and that recombinant leptin therapy may be effective in affected subjects.

Learning points

  • Heterozygous c.485T>G variant in PPARG is most likely a cause for FPLD in humans.

  • This variant results in a special metabolic phenotype with a predominant dysregulation of triglyceride metabolism not responding to standard lipid lowering therapy.

  • Recombinant leptin therapy is effective in rapidly improving hypertriglyceridemia.

Open access

Ulla Kampmann, Per Glud Ovesen, Niels Møller, and Jens Fuglsang

Summary

During pregnancy, maternal tissues become increasingly insensitive to insulin in order to liberate nutritional supply to the growing fetus, but occasionally insulin resistance in pregnancy becomes severe and the treatment challenging. We report a rare and clinically difficult case of extreme insulin resistance with daily insulin requirements of 1420 IU/day during pregnancy in an obese 36-year-old woman with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The woman was referred to the outpatient clinic at gestational week 12 + 2 with a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) at 59 mmol/mol. Insulin treatment was initiated immediately using Novomix 30, and the doses were progressively increased, peaking at 1420 units/day at week 34 + 4. At week 35 + 0, there was an abrupt fall in insulin requirements, but with no signs of placental insufficiency. At week 36 + 1 a, healthy baby with no hypoglycemia was delivered by cesarean section. Blood samples were taken late in pregnancy to search for causes of extreme insulin resistance and showed high levels of C-peptide, proinsulin, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), mannan-binding-lectin (MBL) and leptin. CRP was mildly elevated, but otherwise, levels of inflammatory markers were normal. Insulin antibodies were undetectable, and no mutations in the insulin receptor (INSR) gene were found. The explanation for the severe insulin resistance, in this case, can be ascribed to PCOS, obesity, profound weight gain, hyperleptinemia and inactivity. This is the first case of extreme insulin resistance during pregnancy, with insulin requirements close to 1500 IU/day with a successful outcome, illustrating the importance of a close interdisciplinary collaboration between patient, obstetricians and endocrinologists.

Learning points

  • This is the first case of extreme insulin resistance during pregnancy, with insulin requirements of up to 1420 IU/day with a successful outcome without significant fetal macrosomia and hypoglycemia.

  • Obesity, PCOS, T2D and high levels of leptin and IGF-1 are predictors of severe insulin resistance in pregnancy.

  • A close collaboration between patient, obstetricians and endocrinologists is crucial for tailoring the best possible treatment for pregnant women with diabetes, beneficial for both the mother and her child.

Open access

Marina Yukina, Nurana Nuralieva, Ekaterina Sorkina, Ekaterina Troshina, Anatoly Tiulpakov, Zhanna Belaya, and Galina Melnichenko

Summary

Lamin A/C (LMNA) gene mutations cause a heterogeneous group of progeroid disorders, including Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome, mandibuloacral dysplasia, atypical progeroid syndrome (APS) and generalized lipodystrophy-associated progeroid syndrome (GLPS). All of those syndromes are associated with some progeroid features, lipodystrophy and metabolic complications but vary differently depending on a particular mutation and even patients carrying the same gene variant are known to have clinical heterogeneity. We report a new 30-year-old female patient from Russia with an APS and generalized lipodystrophy (GL) due to the heterozygous de novo LMNA p.E262K mutation and compare her clinical and metabolic features to those of other described patients with APS. Despite many health issues, short stature, skeletal problems, GL and late diagnosis of APS, our patient seems to be relatively metabolically healthy for her age when compared to previously described patients with APS.

Learning points

  • Atypical progeroid syndromes (APS) are rare and heterogenic with different age of onset and degree of metabolic disorders, which makes this diagnosis very challenging for clinicians and may be missed until the adulthood.

  • The clinical picture of the APS depends on a particular mutation in the LMNA gene, but may vary even between the patients with the same mutation.

  • The APS due to a heterozygous LMNA p.E262K mutation, which we report in this patient, seems to have association with the generalized lipodystrophy, short stature and osteoporosis, but otherwise, it seems to cause relatively mild metabolic complications by the age of 30.

  • The patients with APS and lipodystrophy syndromes require a personalized and multidisciplinary approach, and so they should be referred to highly specialized reference-centres for diagnostics and treatment as early as possible.

  • Because of the high heterogeneity of such a rare disease as APS, every patient’s description is noteworthy for a better understanding of this challenging syndrome, including the analysis of genotype-phenotype correlations.

Open access

Carolina Chaves, Mariana Chaves, João Anselmo, and Rui César

Summary

Berardinelli–Seip congenital lipodystrophy (BSCL) is a rare autosomal recessive disease, characterized by the absence of subcutaneous adipose tissue, leptin deficiency and severe metabolic complications, such as insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia. The most common mutation occurs in BCSL2 which encodes seipin, a protein involved in adipogenesis. We report a patient with BSCL who was diagnosed with diabetes at 11 years old. He was started on metformin 1000 mg twice daily, which lowered glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) to less than 7%. Four months later, HbA1c raised above 7.5%, indicating secondary failure to metformin. Therefore, we added the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARG) agonist, pioglitazone. Since then and for the last 5 years his HbA1c has been within the normal range. These findings indicate that pioglitazone should be considered as a valid alternative in the treatment of diabetes in BSCL patients. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first specific report of successful long-term treatment with pioglitazone in a patient with BSCL.

Learning points

  • Berardinelli–Seip congenital lipodystrophy (BSCL) is a recessive genetic disorder associated with severe insulin resistance and early onset diabetes, usually around puberty. Failure of oral antidiabetic medication occurs within the first years of treatment in BSCL patients.

  • When failure to achieve metabolic control with metformin occurs, pioglitazone may be a safe option, lowering insulin resistance and improving both the metabolic control and lipodystrophic phenotype.

  • Herein we show that pioglitazone can be a safe and efficient alternative in the long-term treatment of BSCL patients with diabetes.

Open access

Deeb Daoud Naccache

Summary

Ten years after the successful withdrawal from heroin abuse, a person with diabetes suffered intractable pain and severe muscular emaciation consistent with the syndrome of diabetic neuropathic cachexia. Anti-neuropathic medications failed neither to alleviate suffering and reverse weight loss, nor to stop muscular emaciation. Vigilant evaluation for weight loss aetiologies revealed no responsible aetiology. Prescribing medical cannabis became mandatory, with the intention to alleviate neuropathic pain, regain muscular mass and strengthen legs, enable standing upright and walking normally. Medical cannabis for pain-relief, and the orexigenic properties of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ingredient successfully achieved these goals.

Learning points:

  • Medical cannabis can serve to promptly alleviate severe diabetic neuropathic pain.

  • Past history of heroin abuse was not an absolute contraindication to medical cannabis use.

  • Medical cannabis increased appetite and reversed muscular emaciation.

  • Medical cannabis decreased chronic pain and hence, its catabolic consequences.

Open access

Baris Akinci, Rasimcan Meral, Diana Rus, Rita Hench, Adam H Neidert, Frank DiPaola, Maria Westerhoff, Simeon I Taylor, and Elif A Oral

Summary

A patient with atypical partial lipodystrophy who had a transient initial response to metreleptin experienced acute worsening of her metabolic state when neutralizing antibodies against metreleptin appeared. Because her metabolic status continued to deteriorate, a therapeutic trial with melanocortin-4 receptor agonist setmelanotide, that is believed to function downstream from leptin receptor in the leptin signaling system, was undertaken in an effort to improve her metabolic status for the first time in a patient with lipodystrophy. To achieve this, a compassionate use (investigational new drug application; IND) was initiated (NCT03262610). Glucose control, body fat by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and MRI, and liver fat by proton density fat fraction were monitored. Daily hunger scores were assessed by patient filled questionnaires. Although there was a slight decrease in hunger scales and visceral fat, stimulating melanocortin-4 receptor by setmelanotide did not result in any other metabolic benefit such as improvement of hypertriglyceridemia or diabetes control as desired. Targeting melanocortin-4 receptor to regulate energy metabolism in this setting was not sufficient to obtain a significant metabolic benefit. However, complex features of our case make it difficult to generalize these observations to all cases of lipodystrophy. It is still possible that melanocortin-4 receptor agonistic action may offer some therapeutic benefits in leptin-deficient patients.

Learning points:

  • A patient with atypical lipodystrophy with an initial benefit with metreleptin therapy developed neutralizing antibodies to metreleptin (Nab-leptin), which led to substantial worsening in metabolic control. The neutralizing activity in her serum persisted for longer than 3 years.

  • Whether the worsening in her metabolic state was truly caused by the development of Nab-leptin cannot be fully ascertained, but there was a temporal relationship. The experience noted in our patient at least raises the possibility for concern for substantial metabolic worsening upon emergence and persistence of Nab-leptin. Further studies of cases where Nab-leptin is detected and better assay systems to detect and characterize Nab-leptin are needed.

  • The use of setmelanotide, a selective MC4R agonist targeting specific neurons downstream from the leptin receptor activation, was not effective in restoring metabolic control in this complex patient with presumed diminished leptin action due to Nab-leptin.

  • Although stimulating the MC4R pathway was not sufficient to obtain a significant metabolic benefit in lowering triglycerides and helping with her insulin resistance as was noted with metreleptin earlier, there was a mild reduction in reported food intake and appetite.

  • Complex features of our case make it difficult to generalize our observation to all leptin-deficient patients. It is possible that some leptin-deficient patients (especially those who need primarily control of food intake) may still theoretically benefit from MC4R agonistic action, and further studies in carefully selected patients may help to tease out the differential pathways of metabolic regulation by the complex network of leptin signaling system.

Open access

Albert S Kim, Rashida Hakeem, Azaliya Abdullah, Amanda J Hooper, Michel C Tchan, Thushari I Alahakoon, and Christian M Girgis

Summary

A 19-year-old female presented at 25-weeks gestation with pancreatitis. She was found to have significant hypertriglyceridaemia in context of an unconfirmed history of familial hypertriglyceridaemia. This was initially managed with fasting and insulin infusion and she was commenced on conventional interventions to lower triglycerides, including a fat-restricted diet, heparin, marine oil and gemfibrozil. Despite these measures, the triglyceride levels continued to increase as she progressed through the pregnancy, and it was postulated that she had an underlying lipoprotein lipase defect. Therefore, a multidisciplinary decision was made to commence therapeutic plasma exchange to prevent further episodes of pancreatitis. She underwent a total of 13 sessions of plasma exchange, and labour was induced at 37-weeks gestation in which a healthy female infant was delivered. There was a rapid and significant reduction in triglycerides in the 48 h post-delivery. Subsequent genetic testing of hypertriglyceridaemia genes revealed a missense mutation of the LPL gene. Fenofibrate and rosuvastatin was commenced to manage her hypertriglyceridaemia postpartum and the importance of preconception counselling for future pregnancies was discussed. Hormonal changes in pregnancy lead to an overall increase in plasma lipids to ensure adequate nutrient delivery to the fetus. These physiological changes become problematic, where a genetic abnormality in lipid metabolism exists and severe complications such as pancreatitis can arise. Available therapies for gestational hypertriglyceridaemia rely on augmentation of LPL activity. Where there is an underlying LPL defect, these therapies are ineffective and removal of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins via plasma exchange should be considered.

Learning points:

  • Hormonal changes in pregnancy, mediated by progesterone,oestrogen and human placental lactogen, lead to a two- to three-fold increase in serum triglyceride levels.

  • Pharmacological intervention for management of gestational hypertriglyceridaemia rely on the augmentation of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity to enhance catabolism of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins.

  • Genetic mutations affecting the LPL gene can lead to severe hypertriglyceridaemia.

  • Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) is an effective intervention for the management of severe gestational hypertriglyceridaemia and should be considered in cases where there is an underlying LPL defect.

  • Preconception counselling and discussion regarding contraception is of paramount importance in women with familial hypertriglyceridaemia.