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Open access

Vishal Navani, James F Lynam, Steven Smith, Christine J O’Neill, and Christopher W Rowe

Summary

We report concurrent metastatic prostatic adenocarcinoma (PC) and functioning androgen-secreting adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) in a 77-year-old man. The failure to achieve adequate biochemical castration via androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) as treatment for PC metastases, together with elevated DHEA-S, androstenedione, and discordant adrenal tracer uptake on FDG-PET and PSMA-PET, suggested the presence of a concurrent functional primary adrenal malignancy. On histopathological analysis, scant foci of PC were present throughout the ACC specimen. Castration was achieved post adrenalectomy with concurrent drop in prostate-specific antigen. We outline the literature regarding failure of testosterone suppression on ADT and salient points regarding diagnostic workup of functioning adrenal malignancies.

Learning points

  • Failure to achieve castration with androgen deprivation therapy is rare and should prompt careful review to identify the underlying cause.

  • All adrenal lesions should be evaluated for hormone production, as well as assessed for risk of malignancy (either primary or secondary).

  • Adrenocortical carcinomas are commonly functional, and can secrete steroid hormones or their precursors (androgens, progestogens, glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids).

  • In this case, a co-incident, androgen-producing adrenocortical carcinoma was the cause of failure of testosterone suppression from androgen deprivation therapy as treatment for metastatic prostate cancer. Pathological adrenal androgen production contributed to the progression of prostate cancer.

Open access

Annabelle M Warren, Peter R Ebeling, Vivian Grill, Ego Seeman, and Shoshana Sztal-Mazer

Summary

Hypophosphatasia (HPP) is a rare and under-recognised genetic defect in bone mineralisation. Patients presenting with fragility fractures may be mistakenly diagnosed as having osteoporosis and prescribed antiresorptive therapy, a treatment which may increase fracture risk. Adult-onset HPPhypophosphatasia was identified in a 40-year-old woman who presented with bilateral atypical femoral fractures after 4 years of denosumab therapy. A low serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and increased serum vitamin B6 level signalled the diagnosis, which was later confirmed by identification of two recessive mutations of the ALPL gene. The patient was treated with teriparatide given the unavailability of ALP enzyme-replacement therapy (asfotase alfa). Fracture healing occurred, but impaired mobility persisted. HPP predisposes to atypical femoral fracture (AFF) during antiresorptive therapy; hence, bisphosphonates and denosumab are contraindicated in this condition. Screening patients with fracture or ‘osteoporosis’ to identify a low ALP level is recommended.

Learning points

  • Hypophosphatasia (HPP) is a rare and under-recognised cause of bone fragility produced by impaired matrix mineralisation that can be misdiagnosed as a fragility fracture due to age-related bone loss.

  • Antiresorptive therapy is contraindicated in HPP.

  • Low serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) provides a clue to the diagnosis.

  • Elevated serum vitamin B6 (an ALP substrate) is indicative of HPP, while identification of a mutation in the ALPL gene is confirmatory.

  • Enzyme therapy with recombinant ALP (asfotase alfa) is currently prohibitively costly.

  • Treatment with anabolic bone agents such as teriparatide has been reported, but whether normally mineralized bone is formed requires further study.

Open access

Niamh O’Donnell, Aisling McCarthy, and Ken Thong

Summary

Carbimazole is a commonly used antithyroid drug (ATD), which is associated with several well-established side effects. However, Carbimazole-induced rhabdomyolysis is rarely reported in the literature. We report a 27-year-old male who presented with upper limb myalgia and significantly raised creatine kinase elevation, 1-month post commencement of Carbimazole for Graves’ disease. Carbimazole was ceased with subsequent clinical and biochemical improvement. Though the pathophysiology remains unclear, we hope to raise awareness regarding this rare adverse effect with a view to promote early recognition and prompt discontinuation of the offending medication caused by a commonly used medication in endocrinology.

Learning points

  • Musculoskeletal complaints can relate to unidentified and untreated hyperthyroidism. However one must be mindful that the treatment for these disorders can too induce myopathies.

  • ATD-induced myopathy should be considered when there is a temporal relationship between introduction of ATDs and the onset of symptoms.

  • If ATD-induced myopathy is being considered, other causes of myopathy should still be outruled.

  • Prompt discontinuation of potentially offending medications may provide resolution of symptoms and avoid significant consequences.

Open access

R K Dharmaputra, K L Wan, N Samad, M Herath, J Wong, S Sarlos, S R Holdsworth, and N Naderpoor

Summary

Insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS) is a rare cause of non-islet cell hypoglycaemia. Treatment of this condition is complex and typically involves long-term use of glucocorticoids. Immunotherapy may provide an alternative in the management of this autoimmune condition through the suppression of antibodies production by B-lymphocyte depletion. We present a case of a 62-year-old male, with refractory hypoglycaemia initially presenting with hypoglycaemic seizure during an admission for acute psychosis. Biochemical testing revealed hypoglycaemia with an inappropriately elevated insulin and C-peptide level and no evidence of exogenous use of insulin or sulphonylurea. Polyethylene glycol precipitation demonstrated persistently elevated free insulin levels. This was accompanied by markedly elevated anti-insulin antibody (IA) titres. Imaging included CT with contrast, MRI, pancreatic endoscopic ultrasound and Ga 68-DOTATATE position emission tomography (DOTATATE PET) scan did not reveal islet cell aetiology for hyperinsulinaemia. Maintenance of euglycaemia was dependent on oral steroids and dextrose infusion. Complete resolution of hypoglycaemia and dependence on glucose and steroids was only achieved following treatment with plasma exchange and rituximab.

Learning points

  • Insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS) should be considered in patients with recurrent hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia in whom exogenous insulin administration and islet cell pathologies have been excluded.

  • Biochemical techniques play an essential role in establishing high insulin concentration, insulin antibody titres, and eliminating biochemical interference. High insulin antibody concentration can lead to inappropriately elevated serum insulin levels leading to hypoglycaemia.

  • Plasma exchange and B-lymphocyte depletion with rituximab and immunosuppression with high dose glucocorticoids are effective in reducing serum insulin levels and hypoglycaemia in insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS).

  • Based on our observation, the reduction in serum insulin level may be a better indicator of treatment efficacy compared to anti-insulin antibody (IA) titre as it demonstrated greater correlation to the frequency of hypoglycaemia and to hypoglycaemia resolution.

Open access

Simon Ryder, Jed Robusto, Thomas Robertson, Hamish Alexander, and Emma L Duncan

Summary

Although pituitary macroadenomas often cause mass effects on surrounding structures, it is extremely rare for pituitary lesions to disturb cerebrospinal fluid circulation. Sellar gangliocytoma-pituitary adenomas (SGPAs) are also extremely rare. Here we report the unique case of a man with the unusual combination of acromegaly from an SGPA, who presented with unilateral hydrocephalus. A 60-year-old man presented with rapid neurological deterioration, bitemporal hemianopia, and acromegalic features. Neuroimaging revealed a large sellar lesion extending superiorly into the left foramen of Monro, causing acute obstructive unilateral hydrocephalus. External ventricular drain placement improved consciousness immediately. Biochemical assessment confirmed acromegaly. Following trans-sphenoidal debulking, histology revealed a mixed gangliocytoma/sparsely-granulated somatotrophinoma. Despite the residual disease, his vision recovered remarkably, low-dose cabergoline controlled residual excess growth hormone (GH) secretion, and the residual tumour has remained extremely stable over 2 years. Hydrocephalus is an extremely rare complication of pituitary lesions, and unilateral hydrocephalus has never been reported previously. GH secretion in SGPAs is more common than for pituitary adenomas in general, raising questions regarding the aetiology and therapeutic approach to this rare combination tumour.

Learning points

  • Pituitary tumours most commonly present with symptoms related to endocrine disturbance or mass effects upon visual pathways (e.g. optic chiasm, nerves in the lateral cavernous sinus). However, extremely rarely, pituitary masses may disrupt cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) circulation resulting in hydrocephalus.

  • Sellar gangliocytomas are very rare tumours and most of them are hybrid tumours with pituitary adenomas (SGPAs).

  • SGPAs are typically indolent and may be functioning or non-functioning tumours.

  • Growth hormone (GH)-producing SGPAs are less likely to respond to somatostatin agonists than classic somatotrophinomas.

  • Primary surgical debulking via a trans-sphenoidal approach was effective in this individual, leading to the restoration of CSF circulation and improvement in visual disturbance, while also negating the need for permanent CSF diversion despite the residual tumour burden.

Open access

Jasmine Jiang Zhu, William J Naughton, Kim Hay Be, Nicholas Ensor, and Ada S Cheung

Summary

Hypercalcaemia is a very common endocrine condition, yet severe hypercalcaemia as a result of fungal infection is rarely described. There are have only been two reported cases in the literature of hypercalcaemia associated with Cryptococcus infection. Although the mechanism of hypercalcaemia in these infections is not clear, it has been suggested that it could be driven by the extra-renal production of 1-alpha-hydroxylase by macrophages in granulomas. We describe the case of a 55-year-old woman with a 1,25-OH D-mediated refractory hypercalcaemia in the context of a Cryptococcus neoformans infection. She required treatment with antifungals, pamidronate, calcitonin, denosumab and high-dose glucocorticoids. A disseminated fungal infection should be suspected in immunosuppressed individuals presenting with hypercalcaemia.

Learning point

  • In immunocompromised patients with unexplained hypercalcaemia, fungal infections should be considered as the differential diagnoses;

  • Glucocorticoids may be considered to treat 1,25-OH D-driven hypercalcaemia; however, the benefits of lowering the calcium need to be balanced against the risk of exacerbating an underlying infection;

  • Fluconazole might be an effective therapy for both treatment of the hypercalcaemia by lowering 1,25-OH D levels as well as of the fungal infection.

Open access

Natassia Rodrigo, Diana Learoyd, and Sarah J Glastras

Summary

Hypercalcaemia in pregnancy is uncommon, with associated adverse obstetric and perinatal outcomes for both the mother and the fetus. Determination of causality is central to its management. Diagnostic imaging techniques are limited during pregnancy and the diagnosis is made more complex by physiological changes in calcium and vitamin D homeostasis in pregnancy. Further, therapeutic options are limited due to safety considerations for the pregnant woman and the developing foetus. Three cases of hypercalcaemia in pregnancy will be presented, highlighting the distinct aetiologies and management strategies for hypercalcaemia in pregnancy and the importance of early measurement of serum calcium in pregnancy screening.

Learning points

  • There are complex physiological changes in calcium balance in pregnancy, including increased calcium intestinal absorption and renal excretion.

  • Hypercalcaemia in pregnancy is uncommon but has important potential maternal and foetal complications, making a compelling argument for routine antenatal, calcium screening.

  • Identifying the cause of hypercalcaemia in pregnancy can be challenging due to the complex placental interplay in biochemical test interpretation and due to safety constraints restricting imaging and surgery.

  • Acute medical management of hypercalcaemia must be considered in the context of both maternal and foetal well-being, along with gestational age and specific consideration for the safety of the developing fetus in late gestation.

Open access

Matthew Seymour, Thomas Robertson, Jason Papacostas, Kirk Morris, Jennifer Gillespie, Debra Norris, and Emma L Duncan

Summary

A 34-year-old woman presented 18 months post-partum with blurred vision, polyuria, amenorrhoea, headache and general malaise. Comprehensive clinical examination showed left superior temporal visual loss only. Initial investigations revealed panhypopituitarism and MRI demonstrated a sellar mass involving the infundibulum and hypothalamus. Lymphocytic hypophysitis was suspected and high dose glucocorticoids were commenced along with desmopressin and thyroxine. However, her vision rapidly deteriorated. At surgical biopsy, an irresectable grey amorphous mass involving the optic chiasm was identified. Histopathology was initially reported as granulomatous hypophysitis. Despite the ongoing treatment with glucocorticoids, her vision worsened to light detection only. Histopathological review revised the diagnosis to partially treated lymphoma. A PET scan demonstrated avid uptake in the pituitary gland in addition to splenic involvement, lymphadenopathy above and below the diaphragm, and a bone lesion. Excisional node biopsy of an impalpable infraclavicular lymph node confirmed nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. Hyper-CVAD chemotherapy was commenced, along with rituximab; fluid-balance management during chemotherapy (with its requisite large fluid volumes) was extremely complex given her diabetes insipidus. The patient is now in clinical remission. Panhypopituitarism persists; however, her vision has recovered sufficiently for reading large print and driving. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of Hodgkin lymphoma presenting initially as hypopituitarism.

Learning points

  • Lymphoma involving the pituitary is exceedingly rare and, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma presenting as hypopituitarism.

  • There are myriad causes of a sellar mass and this case highlights the importance of reconsidering the diagnosis when patients fail to respond as expected to appropriate therapeutic intervention.

  • This case highlights the difficulties associated with managing panhypopituitary patients receiving chemotherapy, particularly when this involves large volumes of i.v. hydration fluid.

Open access

Rachel Wurth, Abhishek Jha, Crystal Kamilaris, Anthony J Gill, Nicola Poplawski, Paraskevi Xekouki, Martha M Quezado, Karel Pacak, Constantine A Stratakis, and Fady Hannah-Shmouni

Summary

Succinate dehydrogenase deficiency has been associated with several neoplasias, including renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and those associated with hereditary paraganglioma (PGL)/ pheochromocytoma (PHEO) syndromes, Carney dyad, and Carney triad. Carney triad is a rare multitumoral syndrome characterized by co-existing PGL, gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), and pulmonary chondroma (CHO). We report a case of a 57-year-old male who presented with para-aortic and gastroesophogeal masses, and a right renal superior pole lesion, which were classified as multiple PGLs, a GIST, and a clear cell renal carcinoma, respectively, on pathology following surgical resection. Additionally, a CHO was diagnosed radiologically, although no biopsy was performed. A diagnosis of Carney triad was made. SDHB immunohistochemical staining was negative for the PGL and the GIST, indicating SDH-deficiency. Interestingly, the renal cell carcinoma (RCC) stained positive for both SDHB and SDHA. Subsequent genetic screening of SDH subunit genes revealed a germline inactivating heterozygous SDHA pathogenic variant (c.91 C>T, p.R31X). Loss of heterozygosity was not detected at the tumor level for the RCC, which likely indicated the SDHA variant would not be causative of the RCC, but could still predispose to the development of neoplasias. To the knowledge of the authors this is the first reported case of an SDHA pathogenic variant in a patient with Carney triad complicated by RCC.

Learning points

  • The succinate dehydrogenase enzyme is encoded by four subunit genes (SDHA, SDHB, SDHC, and SDHD; collectively referred to as SDHx), which have been implicated in several neoplasias and are classified as tumor suppressor genes.

  • Carney triad is a rare multiple-neoplasia syndrome presenting as an association of PGLs, GISTs, and CHOs.

  • Carney triad is most commonly associated with hypermethylation of SDHC as demonstrated in tumor tissue, but approximately 10% of cases are due to pathogenic SDHx variants.

  • Although SDHB pathogenic variants are most commonly reported in SDH-deficient renal cell carcinoma, SDHA disease-causing variants have been reported in rare cases.

Open access

Mimi Wong, Usman H Malabu, Ipeson Korah, and YongMong Tan

Summary

Whilst literature is expanding on pasireotide use in the management of Cushing’s disease (CD), there is still currently much unknown about long-term and low-dose pasireotide use in CD. We present a 60-year-old female with residual CD after transphenoidal surgery (TSS), being successfully managed with S.C. pasireotide for over 10 years. For 6 years, her S.C. pasireotide was inadvertently administered at 360 µg twice daily (BID), almost half the recommended dose of 600 µg BID. Despite the low-dose, her urinary free cortisol (UFC) normalised within 6 months and Cushingoid features resolved. She remained in biochemical and clinical remission on the same low-dose for 6 years, before a medication audit discovered her mistaken dose and directed her to take 600 µg BID. With the higher dose 600 µg BID for the next 5 years, her glycaemia worsened without any changes in her UFC and residual tumour volume. Our case showed the continuing effectiveness and safety of treatment with S.C. pasireotide for more than 10 years, and that a low-dose regimen may be considered an option for responders by its safety profile.

Learning points:

  • A lower dose of pasireotide may be effective in the initial treatment of CD than the recommended 600 µg BID dosage, though more studies are required to explore this.

  • Low-dose pasireotide use has the benefit of minimising adverse effects.

  • In the long-term, pasireotide has a sustained clinical and biochemical effect and is well tolerated.