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Jenny S W Yun Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Chris McCormack Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Michelle Goh Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Cherie Chiang Department of Internal Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

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Summary

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.

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Benjamin G Challis Wellcome Trust–MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK
Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinic, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrookes Hospital, Box 281, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Nicolai J Wewer Albrechtsen Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark

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Vishakha Bansiya Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinic, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrookes Hospital, Box 281, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Keith Burling Wellcome Trust–MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Peter Barker Wellcome Trust–MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Bolette Hartmann Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark

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Fiona Gribble Wellcome Trust–MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Stephen O'Rahilly Wellcome Trust–MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK
Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinic, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrookes Hospital, Box 281, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Jens J Holst Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark

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Helen L Simpson Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinic, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrookes Hospital, Box 281, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Summary

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (pNETs) secreting proglucagon are associated with phenotypic heterogeneity. Here, we describe two patients with pNETs and varied clinical phenotypes due to differential processing and secretion of proglucagon-derived peptides (PGDPs). Case 1, a 57-year-old woman presented with necrolytic migratory erythema, anorexia, constipation and hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia. She was found to have a grade 1 pNET, small bowel mucosal thickening and hyperglucagonaemia. Somatostatin analogue (SSA) therapy improved appetite, abolished hypoglycaemia and improved the rash. Case 2, a 48-year-old male presented with diabetes mellitus, diarrhoea, weight loss, nausea, vomiting and perineal rash due to a grade 1 metastatic pNET and hyperglucagonaemia. In both cases, plasma levels of all measured PGDPs were elevated and attenuated following SSA therapy. In case 1, there was increased production of intact glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and GLP-2, similar to that of the enteroendocrine L cell. In case 2, pancreatic glucagon was elevated due to a pancreatic α-cell-like proglucagon processing profile. In summary, we describe two patients with pNETs and heterogeneous clinical phenotypes due to differential processing and secretion of PGDPs. This is the first description of a patient with symptomatic hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia and marked gastrointestinal dysfunction due to, in part, a proglucagon-expressing pNET.

Learning points

  • PGDPs exhibit a diverse range of biological activities including critical roles in glucose and amino acid metabolism, energy homeostasis and gastrointestinal physiology.

  • The clinical manifestations of proglucagon-expressing tumours may exhibit marked phenotypic variation due to the biochemical heterogeneity of their secreted peptide repertoire.

  • Specific and precise biochemical assessment of individuals with proglucagon-expressing tumours may provide opportunities for improved diagnosis and clinical management.

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