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Open access

Sajjad Ahmad, Thomas Best, Andrew Lansdown, Caroline Hayhurst, Fiona Smeeton, Steve Davies, and Aled Rees

Summary

Excess cortisol is associated with hypertrophy and redistribution of adipose tissue leading to central obesity which is classically seen in Cushing’s syndrome. Abnormal accumulation of fatty tissue in the spinal canal is most commonly associated with chronic steroid therapy and rarely reported with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. Herein, we describe a case of spinal epidural lipomatosis (SEL) associated with Cushing’s disease. A 17-year-old man was referred with lower limb weakness, weight gain, multiple stretch marks, back pain and loss of height. He had clinical and biochemical features of Cushing’s syndrome. MRI and Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling (IPSS) confirmed a pituitary adenoma as the source. On day 1 post trans-sphenoidal adenectomy he developed spastic paraparesis with a sensory deficit to the level of T5. MRI spine showed increased fat deposition in the spinal canal from T2 to T9 consistent with a diagnosis of SEL. He was managed conservatively and made a good recovery following restoration of eucortisolism and a period of rehabilitation.

Learning points:

  • SEL is a serious complication of glucocorticoid excess and should be considered in any patient presenting with new lower limb neurological symptoms associated with hypercortisolism.
  • It is important to distinguish symptomatic SEL from cortisol-induced proximal myopathy by good history and clinical examination.
  • MRI of the spine is the gold standard investigation for making a diagnosis of SEL.
  • Restoration of eucortisolism can lead to resolution of fat accumulation and good neurological outcome.
Open access

Rob Gonsalves, Kirk Aleck, Dorothee Newbern, Gabriel Shaibi, Chirag Kapadia, and Oliver Oatman

Summary

Single-minded homolog 1 (SIM1) is a transcription factor that plays a role in the development of both the hypothalamus and pituitary. SIM1 gene mutations are known to cause obesity in humans, and chromosomal deletions encompassing SIM1 and other genes necessary for pituitary development can cause a Prader–Willi-like syndrome with obesity and hypopituitarism. There have been no reported cases of hypopituitarism linked to a single SIM1 mutation. A 21-month-old male presented to endocrinology clinic with excessive weight gain and severe obesity. History was also notable for excessive drinking and urination. Endocrine workup revealed central hypothyroidism, partial diabetes insipidus, and central adrenal insufficiency. Genetic evaluation revealed a novel mutation in the SIM1 gene. No other genetic abnormalities to account for his obesity and hypopituitarism were identified. While we cannot definitively state this mutation is pathogenic, it is notable that SIM1 plays a role in the development of all three of the patient’s affected hormone axes. He is now 6 years old and remains on treatment for his pituitary hormone deficiencies and continues to exhibit excessive weight gain despite lifestyle interventions.

Learning points:

  • Mutations in SIM1 are a well-recognized cause of monogenic human obesity, and there have been case reports of Prader–Willi-like syndrome and hypopituitarism in patients with chromosomal deletions that contain the SIM1 gene.
  • SIM1 is expressed during the development of the hypothalamus, specifically in neuroendocrine lineages that give rise to the hormones oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, thyrotropin-releasing hormone, corticotropin-releasing hormone, and somatostatin.
  • Pituitary testing should be considered in patients with severe obesity and a known genetic abnormality affecting the SIM1 gene, particularly in the pediatric population.
Open access

Tzy Harn Chua and Wann Jia Loh

Summary

Severe hyponatremia and osmotic demyelination syndrome (ODS) are opposite ends of a spectrum of emergency disorders related to sodium concentrations. Management of severe hyponatremia is challenging because of the difficulty in balancing the risk of overcorrection leading to ODS as well as under-correction causing cerebral oedema, particularly in a patient with chronic hypocortisolism and hypothyroidism. We report a case of a patient with Noonan syndrome and untreated anterior hypopituitarism who presented with symptomatic hyponatremia and developed transient ODS.

Learning points:

  • Patients with severe anterior hypopituitarism with severe hyponatremia are susceptible to the rapid rise of sodium level with a small amount of fluid and hydrocortisone.
  • These patients with chronic anterior hypopituitarism are at high risk of developing ODS and therefore, care should be taken to avoid a rise of more than 4–6 mmol/L per day.
  • Early recognition and rescue desmopressin and i.v. dextrose 5% fluids to reduce serum sodium concentration may be helpful in treating acute ODS.