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Open access

Jin Hui Ho, Ana Vetriana Abd Wahab, Yin Khet Fung, and Serena Sert Kim Khoo

Summary

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is associated with menstrual irregularities, ovulatory dysfunction, hirsutism, insulin resistance, obesity and metabolic syndrome but is rarely associated with severe hyperandrogenaemia and virilisation resulting in male pattern baldness and clitoromegaly. Total serum testosterone greater than twice the upper limit of the reference range or free androgen index of over five-fold elevated suggests a diagnosis other than PCOS. We reported a case of a 15 years old obese girl presented with secondary amenorrhoea, virilising signs: frontal baldness, clitoromegaly and prominent signs of insulin resistance and marked acanthosis nigricans. Her total testosterone level was markedly elevated at 9.4 nmol/L (0.5–1.7 nmol/L) and MRI pelvis revealed a right ovarian mass with fat and cystic component and a left polycystic ovary. The patient underwent laparoscopic right ovarian cystectomy and histologically confirmed mature cystic teratoma. Post-operatively, her testosterone level declined but did not normalise, menses resumed but remained irregular. Her fasting insulin was elevated 85.2 mIU/L (3–25 mIU/L) and HOMA-IR was high at 13.1 (>2) with persistent acanthosis nigricans suggesting co-existing HAIR-AN syndrome, an extreme phenotype of polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Learning points:

  • Rapid onset of hyperandrogenic symptoms, especially if associated with signs of virilisation must raise the suspicion of an androgen-secreting tumour.
  • Total serum testosterone greater than twofold the upper limit of the reference range or free androgen indices over fivefold suggest a diagnosis other than polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
  • High levels of testosterone with normal levels of the DHEA-S suggest an ovarian source.
  • Ovarian androgen-secreting tumour and HAIR-AN syndrome, an extreme spectrum of PCOS can co-exist.
Open access

João José Nunes Roque, Irina Borisovna Samokhvalova Alves, Ana Maria de Almeida Paiva Fernandes Rodrigues, and Maria João Bugalho

Summary

Menopause is a relative hyperandrogenic state but the development of hirsutism or virilizing features should not be regarded as normal. We report the case of a 62-year-old woman with a 9-month history of progressive frontotemporal hair loss and hirsutism, particularly on her back, arms and forearms. Blood tests showed increased total testosterone of 5.20 nmol/L that remained elevated after an overnight dexamethasone suppression test. Free Androgen Index was 13.1 and DHEAS was repeatedly normal. Imaging examinations to study adrenals and ovaries were negative. The biochemical profile and the absence of imaging in favor of an adrenal tumor made us consider the ovarian origin as the most likely hypothesis. After informed consent, bilateral salpingectomy-oophorectomy and total hysterectomy were performed. Gross pathology revealed ovaries of increased volume and histology showed bilateral ovarian stromal hyperplasia. Testosterone levels normalized after surgery and hirsutism had completely subsided 8 months later.

Learning points:

  • Menopause is a relative hyperandrogenic state
  • Hirsutism and/or virilizing features, in a postmenopausal woman, should raise the hypothesis of a malignant cause
  • In the absence of an identifiable ovarian or adrenal tumor, the ovarian origin remains the most likely
  • Peripheral aromatization of excess androgen may conduct to high levels of estrogen increasing the risk of endometrial cancer
  • Bilateral oophorectomy results in significant clinical improvement.
Open access

S Livadas, I Androulakis, N Angelopoulos, A Lytras, F Papagiannopoulos, and G Kassi

Summary

HAIR-AN syndrome, the coexistence of Hirsutism, Insulin Resistance (IR) and Acanthosis Nigricans, constitutes a rare nosologic entity. It is characterized from clinical and biochemical hyperandrogenism accompanied with severe insulin resistance, chronic anovulation and metabolic abnormalities. Literally, HAIR-AN represents an extreme case of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In everyday practice, the management of HAIR-AN constitutes a therapeutic challenge with the available pharmaceutical agents. Specifically, the degree of IR cannot be significantly ameliorated with metformin administration, whereas oral contraceptives chronic administration is associated with worsening of metabolic profile. Liraglutide and exenatide, in combination with metformin, have been introduced in the management of significantly obese women with PCOS with satisfactory results. Based on this notion, we prescribed liraglutide in five women with HAIR-AN. In all participants a significant improvement regarding the degree of IR, fat depositions, androgen levels and the pattern of menstrual cycle was observed, with minimal weight loss. Furthermore, one woman became pregnant during liraglutide treatment giving birth to a healthy child. Accordingly, we conclude that liraglutide constitutes an effective alternative in the management of women with HAIR-AN.

Learning points:

  • HAIR-AN management is challenging and classic therapeutic regimens are ineffective.
  • Literally HAIR-AN syndrome, the coexistence of Hirsutism, Insulin Resistance and Acanthosis Nigricans, represents an extreme case of polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • In cases of HAIR-AN, liraglutide constitutes an effective and safe choice.
Open access

Yotsapon Thewjitcharoen, Veekij Veerasomboonsin, Soontaree Nakasatien, Sirinate Krittiyawong, and Thep Himathongkam

Summary

Primary amenorrhea could be caused by disorders of four parts: disorders of the outflow tract, disorders of the ovary, disorders of the anterior pituitary, and disorders of hypothalamus. Delay in diagnosis and hormone substitution therapy causes secondary osteoporosis. Herein, we report a case of a 23-year-old phenotypical female who presented with primary amenorrhea from 46, XX gonadal dysgenesis but had been misdiagnosed as Mayer–Rokitansky–Kuster–Hauser (MRKH) syndrome or Mullerian agenesis. The coexistence of gonadal dysgenesis and MRKH was suspected after laboratory and imaging investigations. However, the vanishing uterus reappeared after 18 months of hormone replacement therapy. Therefore, hormone profiles and karyotype should be thoroughly investigated to distinguish MRKH syndrome from other disorders of sex development (DSD). Double diagnosis of DSD is extremely rare and periodic evaluation should be reassessed. This case highlights the presence of estrogen deficiency state, the uterus may remain invisible until adequate exposure to exogenous estrogen.

Learning points:

  • An early diagnosis of disorders of sex development (DSD) is extremely important in order to promptly begin treatment, provide emotional support to the patient and reduce the risks of associated complications.
  • Hormone profiles and karyotype should be investigated in all cases of the presumptive diagnosis of Mayer–Rokitansky–Kuster–Hauser (MRKH) syndrome or Mullerian agenesis.
  • The association between 46, XX gonadal dysgenesis and Mullerian agenesis has been occasionally reported as a co-incidental event; however, reassessment of the presence of uterus should be done again after administration of exogenous estrogen replacement for at least 6–12 months.
  • A multidisciplinary approach is necessary for patients presenting with DSD to ensure appropriate treatments and follow-up across the lifespan of individuals with DSD.
Open access

Chloe Broughton, Jane Mears, Adam Williams, and Kathryn Lonnen

Summary

Pituitary adenomas can be classified as functioning or non-functioning adenomas. Approximately 64% of clinically non-functioning pituitary adenomas are found to be gonadotroph adenomas on immunohistochemistry. There are reported cases of gonadotroph adenomas causing clinical symptoms, but this is unusual. We present the case of a 36-year-old female with abdominal pain. Multiple large ovarian cysts were identified on ultrasound requiring bilateral cystectomy. Despite this, the cysts recurred resulting in further abdominal pain, ovarian torsion and right oophorectomy and salpingectomy. On her 3rd admission with abdominal pain, she was found to have a rectus sheath mass which was resected and histologically confirmed to be fibromatosis. Endocrine investigations revealed elevated oestradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) at the upper limit of the normal range and a suppressed luteinising hormone (LH). Prolactin was mildly elevated. A diagnosis of an FSH-secreting pituitary adenoma was considered and a pituitary MRI revealed a 1.5 cm macroadenoma. She underwent transphenoidal surgery which led to resolution of her symptoms and normalisation of her biochemistry. Subsequent pelvic ultrasound showed normal ovarian follicular development. Clinically functioning gonadotroph adenomas are rare, but should be considered in women presenting with menstrual irregularities, large or recurrent ovarian cysts, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and fibromatosis. Transphenoidal surgery is the first-line treatment with the aim of achieving complete remission.

Learning points:

  • Pituitary gonadotroph adenomas are usually clinically non-functioning, but in rare cases can cause clinical symptoms.
  • A diagnosis of a functioning gonadotroph adenoma should be considered in women presenting with un-explained ovarian hyperstimulation and/or fibromatosis.
  • In women with functioning gonadotroph adenomas, the main biochemical finding is elevated oestradiol levels. Serum FSH levels can be normal or mildly elevated. Serum LH levels are usually suppressed.
  • Transphenoidal surgery is the first-line treatment for patients with functioning gonadotroph adenomas, with the aim of achieving complete remission.
Open access

Susan Ahern, Mark Daniels, and Amrit Bhangoo

Summary

In this case report, we present a novel mutation in Lim-homeodomain (LIM-HD) transcription factor, LHX3, manifesting as combined pituitary hormone deficiency (CPHD). This female patient was originally diagnosed in Egypt during infancy with Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA) requiring several blood transfusions. Around 10 months of age, she was diagnosed and treated for central hypothyroidism. It was not until she came to the United States around two-and-a-half years of age that she was diagnosed and treated for growth hormone deficiency. Her response to growth hormone replacement on linear growth and muscle tone were impressive. She still suffers from severe global development delay likely due to delay in treatment of congenital central hypothyroidism followed by poor access to reliable thyroid medications. Her diagnosis of DBA was not confirmed after genetic testing in the United States and her hemoglobin normalized with hormone replacement therapies. We will review the patient’s clinical course as well as a review of LHX3 mutations and the associated phenotype.

Learning points:

  • Describe an unusual presentation of undertreated pituitary hormone deficiencies in early life
  • Combined pituitary hormone deficiency due to a novel mutation in pituitary transcription factor, LHX3
  • Describe the clinical phenotype of combined pituitary hormone deficiency due to LHX3 mutations
Open access

E Bahaeldein and M J Brassill

Summary

Postmenopausal hyperandrogenism is a relatively rare diagnosis resulting from excess androgen production from the adrenals or ovaries. The exclusion of malignant causes is a priority. Laboratory tests and imaging are utilised to help differentiate the source of excess androgens. We report two cases of postmenopausal hyperandrogenism in women aged 75 and 67 years. Both cases presented with clinical features suggestive of hyperandrogenism which had developed gradually over the previous 2 years. Laboratory investigations confirmed a significant elevation in their serum testosterone levels. In both cases, imaging did not reveal any abnormality of the adrenals or ovaries. To help differentiate an adrenal vs ovarian source a single-dose GnRH analogue was given with measurement of testosterone and gonadotrophin levels pre and post. The reduction in gonadotrophins achieved by the GnRH analogue resulted in suppression of testosterone levels which suggested an ovarian source. Both patients proceeded to bilateral oophorectomy. Histology revealed a benign hilus cell tumour in one case and a benign Leydig cell tumour in the other.

Learning points:

  • A key part of the work-up of postmenopausal hyperandrogenism is to differentiate between an adrenal or an ovarian source of excess androgens;
  • Imaging may not identify small ovarian tumours or hyperthecosis and may also identify incidental adrenal masses which are non-functioning;
  • Current guidelines suggest ovarian and adrenal venous sampling when imaging is inconclusive but this requires technical expertise and has a high failure rate;
  • GnRH analogue use can successfully confirm ovarian source and should be considered as a diagnostic tool in this setting.
Open access

S Vimalesvaran, S Narayanaswamy, L Yang, J K Prague, A Buckley, A D Miras, S Franks, K Meeran, and W S Dhillo

Summary

Primary amenorrhoea is defined as the failure to commence menstruation by the age of 15 years, in the presence of normal secondary sexual development. The potential causes of primary amenorrhoea extend from structural to chromosomal abnormalities. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of secondary amenorrhoea but an uncommon cause of primary amenorrhoea. An early and prompt diagnosis of PCOS is important, as up to 30% of these women are predisposed to glucose intolerance and obesity, with the subgroup of women presenting with primary amenorrhoea and PCOS displaying a higher incidence of metabolic dysfunction. We describe a case of an 18-year-old female presenting with primary amenorrhoea of unknown aetiology. Although initial investigations did not demonstrate clinical or biochemical hyperandrogenism or any radiological evidence of polycystic ovaries, a raised luteinising hormone (LH) suggested a diagnosis of PCOS. If PCOS was the correct diagnosis, then one would expect intact hypothalamic GnRH and pituitary gonadotropin release. We used the novel hormone kisspeptin to confirm intact hypothalamic GnRH release and a GnRH stimulation test to confirm intact pituitary gonadotroph function. This case highlights that kisspeptin is a potential unique tool to test GnRH function in patients presenting with reproductive disorders.

Learning points:

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can present with primary amenorrhoea, and therefore, should be considered in the differential diagnosis.
  • PCOS is a heterogeneous condition that may present in lean women with few or absent signs of hyperandrogenism.
  • GnRH stimulation tests are useful in evaluating pituitary function; however, to date, we do not have a viable test of GnRH function. Kisspeptin has the potential to form a novel diagnostic tool for assessing hypothalamic GnRH function by monitoring gonadotropin response as a surrogate marker of GnRH release.
  • Confirmation of intact GnRH function helps consolidate a diagnosis in primary amenorrhoea and gives an indication of future fertility.
Open access

Ana Marina Moreira and Poli Mara Spritzer

Summary

Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is the condition of intermittent or permanent gonadal insufficiency that occurs in women before the age of 40. We describe three cases of POI referred to the outpatient endocrinology clinic of a university hospital. The three patients met diagnostic criteria for POI and were managed by specific approaches tailored to individualized goals. In the first case, the main concern was fertility and the reproductive prognosis. The second patient was a carrier of a common genetic cause of POI: premutation of the FMR1 gene. The third case was a patient diagnosed with a POI and established osteoporosis, a common complication of estrogen deprivation. This study reports the treatment and follow-up of these cases, with an emphasis on relevant aspects of individualized management, alongside a brief literature review.

Learning points

  • A diagnosis of POI should be considered in patients presenting with amenorrhea or irregular menses and high serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels before age 40 years.
  • Patients with POI without an established cause, especially in familial cases, should be tested for FMR1 mutations.
  • Estrogen/progestin replacement therapy is indicated since diagnosis until at least the estimated age of menopause, and is the cornerstone for maintaining the good health of breast and urogenital tract and for primary or secondary osteoporosis prevention in POI.
  • Fertility should be managed through an individualized approach based on patient possibilities, such as egg or embryo donation and ovarian cryopreservation; pregnancy can occur spontaneously in a minority of cases.
  • Women with POI should be carefully monitored for cardiovascular risk factors.

Open access

Dimitrios Haidopoulos, George Bakolas, and Lina Michala

Summary

Turner syndrome (TS) has been linked to a number of autoimmune conditions, including lichen sclerosus (LS), at an estimated prevalence of 17%. LS is a known precursor to vulvar cancer. We present a case of vulvar cancer in a 44-year-old woman, who had previously complained of pruritus in the area, a known symptom of LS. Histology confirmed a squamous cell carcinoma with underlying LS. Vulvar assessment for the presence of LS should be undertaken regularly as part of the routine assessments proposed for adult TS women. If LS is identified, then the patient should be warned of the increased risk of vulvar cancer progression and should be monitored closely for signs of the condition.

Learning points

  • Patients with TS are at increased risk of developing LS.
  • LS is a known precursor to vulvar cancer.
  • TS women with LS may be at risk of developing vulvar cancer and should be offered annual vulvar screening and also be aware of signs and symptoms of early vulvar cancer.