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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.

Open access

Sarah W Y Poon, Karen K Y Leung, and Joanna Y L Tung

Summary

Severe hypertriglyceridemia is an endocrine emergency and is associated with acute pancreatitis and hyperviscosity syndrome. We describe an infant with lipoprotein lipase deficiency with severe hypertriglyceridemia who presented with acute pancreatitis. She was managed acutely with fasting and intravenous insulin infusion, followed by low-fat diet with no pharmacological agent. Subsequent follow-up until the age of 5 years showed satisfactory lipid profile and she has normal growth and development.

Learning points:

  • Hypertriglyceridemia-induced acute pancreatitis has significant morbidity and mortality, and prompt treatment is imperative.

  • When no secondary causes are readily identified, genetic evaluation should be pursued in hypertriglyceridemia in children.

  • Intravenous insulin is a safe and effective acute treatment for hypertriglyceridemia in children, even in infants.

  • Long-term management with dietary modifications alone could be effective for primary hypertriglyceridemia due to lipoprotein lipase deficiency, at least in early childhood phase.

Open access

Peter Novodvorsky, Emma Walkinshaw, Waliur Rahman, Valerie Gordon, Karen Towse, Sarah Mitchell, Dinesh Selvarajah, Priya Madhuvrata, and Alia Munir

Summary

Bariatric surgery is an effective therapy for obesity but is associated with long-term complications such as dumping syndromes and nutritional deficiencies. We report a case of a 26-year-old caucasian female, with history of morbid obesity and gestational diabetes (GDM), who became pregnant 4 months after Roux-en-Y bypass surgery. She developed GDM during subsequent pregnancy, which was initially managed with metformin and insulin. Nocturnal hypoglycaemia causing sleep disturbance and daytime somnolence occured at 19 weeks of pregnancy (19/40). Treatment with rapid-acting carbohydrates precipitated further hypoglycaemia. Laboratory investigations confirmed hypoglycaemia at 2.2 mmol/L with appropriately low insulin and C-peptide, intact HPA axis and negative IgG insulin antibodies. The patient was seen regularly by the bariatric dietetic team but concerns about compliance persisted. A FreeStyle Libre system was used from 21/40 enabling the patient a real-time feedback of changes in interstitial glucose following high or low GI index food intake. The patient declined a trial of acarbose but consented to an intraveneous dextrose infusion overnight resulting in improvement but not complete abolishment of nocturnal hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemias subsided at 34/40 and metformin and insulin had to be re-introduced due to high post-prandial blood glucose readings. An emergency C-section was indicated at 35 + 1/40 and a small-for-gestational-age female was delivered. There have been no further episodes of hypoglycaemia following delivery. This case illustrates challenges in the management of pregnancy following bariatric surgery. To our knowledge, this is the first use of FreeStyle Libre in dumping syndrome in pregnancy following bariatric surgery with troublesome nocturnal hypoglycaemia.

Learning points:

  • Bariatric surgery represents the most effective treatment modality in cases of severe obesity. With increasing prevalence of obesity, more people are likely to undergo bariatric procedures, many of which are women of childbearing age.

  • Fertility generally improves after bariatric surgery due to weight reduction, but pregnancy is not recommended for at least 12–24 months after surgery. If pregnancy occurs, there are currently little evidence-based guidelines available on how to manage complications such as dumping syndromes or gestational diabetes (GDM) in women with history of bariatric surgery.

  • Diagnosis of GDM relies on the use of a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). The use of this test in pregnant women is not recommended due to its potential to precipitate dumping syndrome. Capillary glucose monitoring profiles or continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is being currently discussed as alternative testing modalities.

  • As the CGM technology becomes more available, including the recently introduced FreeStyle Libre Flash glucose monitoring system, more pregnant women, including those after bariatric surgery, will have access to this technology. We suggest urgent development of guidelines regarding the use of CGM and flash glucose monitoring tools in these circumstances and in the interim recommend careful consideration of their use on a case-to-case basis.