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Open access

Mike Lin, Venessa Tsang, Janice Brewer, Roderick Clifton-Bligh, and Matti L Gild

Summary

Lymphocytic hypophysitis is a rare neuroendocrine disease characterised by an autoimmune inflammatory disorder of the pituitary gland. We report a 50-year-old woman who presented with headaches and bilateral sixth cranial nerve palsies. MRI of the pituitary revealed extensive fibrosis involving the sellar and extending into both cavernous sinuses causing bilateral occlusion of the internal carotid arteries (ICA). Transphenoidal biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of infiltrative fibrotic lymphocytic hypophysitis. Symptoms resolved with high dose of oral steroids but relapsed on tapering, requiring several treatments of i.v. pulse steroids over 8 months. Rituximab combined with mycophenolate mofetil was required to achieve long-term symptom relief. Serial MRI pituitary imaging showed stabilisation of her disease without reduction in sellar mass or regression of ICA occlusion. The patient’s brain remained perfused solely by her posterior circulation. This case demonstrates an unusual presentation of a rare disease and highlights a successful steroid-sparing regimen in a refractory setting.

Learning points:

  • Lymphocytic hypophysitis is a rare inflammatory disorder of the pituitary gland. In exceptional cases, there is infiltration of the cavernous sinus with subsequent occlusion of the internal carotid arteries.
  • First-line treatment of lymphocytic hypophysitis is high-dose glucocorticoids. Relapse after tapering or discontinuation is common and its use is limited by long-term adverse effects.
  • There is a paucity of data for treatment of refractory lymphocytic hypophysitis. Goals of treatment should include improvement in symptoms, correction of hormonal insufficiencies, reduction in lesion size and prevention of recurrence.
  • Steroid-sparing immunosuppressive drugs such as rituximab and mycophenolate mofetil have been successful in case reports. This therapeutic combination represents a viable alternative treatment for refractory disease.
Open access

Sharmin Jahan, M A Hasanat, Tahseen Mahmood, Shahed Morshed, Raziul Haq, and Md Fariduddin

Summary

Silent corticotroph adenoma (SCA) is an unusual type of nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma (NFA) that is silent both clinically and biochemically and can only be recognized by positive immunostaining for ACTH. Under rare circumstances, it can transform into hormonally active disease presenting with severe Cushing syndrome. It might often produce diagnostic dilemma with difficult management issue if not thoroughly investigated and subtyped accordingly following surgery. Here, we present a 21-year-old male who initially underwent pituitary adenomectomy for presumed NFA with compressive symptoms. However, he developed recurrent and invasive macroadenoma with severe clinical as well as biochemical hypercortisolism during post-surgical follow-up. Repeat pituitary surgery was carried out urgently as there was significant optic chiasmal compression. Immunohistochemical analysis of the tumor tissue obtained on repeat surgery proved it to be an aggressive corticotroph adenoma. Though not cured, he showed marked clinical and biochemical improvement in the immediate postoperative period. Anticipating recurrence from the residual tumor, we referred him for cyber knife radio surgery.

Learning points:

  • Pituitary NFA commonly present with compressive symptoms such as headache and blurred vision.
  • Post-surgical development of Cushing syndrome in such a case could be either drug induced or endogenous.
  • In the presence of recurrent pituitary tumor, ACTH-dependent Cushing syndrome indicates CD.
  • Rarely a SCA presenting initially as NFA can transform into an active corticotroph adenoma.
  • Immunohistochemical marker for ACTH in the resected tumor confirms the diagnosis.
Open access

Mara Ventura, Leonor Gomes, Joana Rosmaninho-Salgado, Luísa Barros, Isabel Paiva, Miguel Melo, Diana Oliveira, and Francisco Carrilho

Summary

Intracranial germinomas are rare tumors affecting mostly patients at young age. Therefore, molecular data on its etiopathogenesis are scarce. We present a clinical case of a male patient of 25 years with an intracranial germinoma and a 16p11.2 microdeletion. His initial complaints were related to obesity, loss of facial hair and polydipsia. He also had a history of social-interaction difficulties during childhood. His blood tests were consistent with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and secondary adrenal insufficiency, and he had been previously diagnosed with hypothyroidism. He also presented with polyuria and polydipsia and the water deprivation test confirmed the diagnosis of diabetes insipidus. His sellar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed two lesions: one located in the pineal gland and other in the suprasellar region, both with characteristics suggestive of germinoma. Chromosomal microarray analysis was performed due to the association of obesity with social disability, and the result identified a 604 kb 16p11.2 microdeletion. The surgical biopsy confirmed the histological diagnosis of a germinoma. Pharmacological treatment with testosterone, hydrocortisone and desmopressin was started, and the patient underwent radiotherapy (40 Gy divided in 25 fractions). Three months after radiotherapy, a significant decrease in suprasellar and pineal lesions without improvement in pituitary hormonal deficiencies was observed. The patient is currently under follow-up. To the best of our knowledge, we describe the first germinoma in a patient with a 16p11.2 deletion syndrome, raising the question about the impact of this genetic alteration on tumorigenesis and highlighting the need of molecular analysis of germ cell tumors as only little is known about their genetic background.

Learning points:

  • Central nervous system germ cell tumors (CNSGTs) are rare intracranial tumors that affect mainly young male patients. They are typically located in the pineal and suprasellar regions and patients frequently present with symptoms of hypopituitarism.
  • The molecular pathology of CNSGTs is unknown, but it has been associated with gain of function of the KIT gene, isochromosome 12p amplification and a low DNA methylation.
  • Germinoma is a radiosensitive tumor whose diagnosis depends on imaging, tumor marker detection, surgical biopsy and cerebrospinal fluid cytology.
  • 16p11.2 microdeletion syndrome is phenotypically characterized by developmental delay, intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders.
  • Seminoma, cholesteatoma, desmoid tumor, leiomyoma and Wilms tumor have been described in a few patients with 16p11.2 deletion.
  • Bifocal germinoma was identified in this patient with a 16p11.2 microdeletion syndrome, which represents a putative new association not previously reported in the literature.
Open access

Yew Wen Yap, Steve Ball, and Zubair Qureshi

Summary

The coexistence of primary hypothyroidism and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)-stimulating pituitary macroadenoma can be a rare occurrence and can make diagnosis very challenging. We describe a case of a 44-year-old female with a history of fatigue, poor concentration, weight gain and amenorrhoea together with biochemical evidence of primary autoimmune hypothyroidism. Her initial TSH levels were elevated with low normal free thyroxine (T4) levels. Levothyroxine treatment was initiated and the dose was gradually titrated to supraphysiologic doses. This led to the normalisation of her TSH levels but her free T4 and triiodothyronine (T3) levels remained persistently elevated. This prompted a serum prolactin check which returned elevated at 2495 µ/L, leading onto pituitary imaging. A MRI of the pituitary gland revealed a pituitary macroadenoma measuring 2.4 × 2 × 1.6 cm. Despite starting her on cabergoline therapy with a reduction in her prolactin levels, her TSH levels began to rise even further. Additional thyroid assays revealed that she had an abnormally elevated alpha subunit at 3.95 (age-related reference range <3.00). This corresponded to a thyroid-secreting hormone pituitary macroadenoma. She went on to have a transphenoidal hypophysectomy. Histology revealed tissues staining for TSH, confirming this to be a TSH-secreting pituitary macroadenoma. This case highlighted the importance of further investigations with thyroid assay interferences, heterophile antibodies, alpha subunit testing and anterior pituitary profile in cases of resistant and non-resolving primary hypothyroidism.

Learning points:

  • Levothyroxine treatment in primary hypothyroidism can potentially unmask the presence of a latent TSH-secreting pituitary macroadenoma, which can make diagnosis very challenging.
  • A high index of suspicion should prompt clinicians to further investigate cases of primary hypothyroidism which despite increasing doses of levothyroxine treatment with normalisation of TSH, the free T4 and T3 levels remain persistently elevated.
  • Clinicians should consider investigating for adherence to levothyroxine, thyroid assay interference, heterophile antibodies, TSH dilution studies, alpha subunit and anterior pituitary profile testing to further clarity the diagnosis in these patients.
  • Although coexistent cases of TSHoma with primary hypothyroidism are rare, it should always be in the list of differential diagnoses in cases of unresolving primary hypothyroidism.
Open access

Carlos Tavares Bello, Patricia Cipriano, Vanessa Henriques, João Sequeira Duarte, and Conceição Canas Marques

Summary

Granular cell tumours (GCT) are rare, slow-growing, benign neoplasms that are usually located in the head and neck. They are more frequent in the female gender and typically have an asymptomatic clinical course, being diagnosed only at autopsy. Symptomatic GCT of the neurohypophysis are exceedingly rare, being less than 70 cases described so far. The authors report on a case of a 28-year-old male that presented to the Endocrinology clinic with clinical and biochemical evidence of hypogonadism. He also reported minor headaches without any major visual symptoms. Further laboratory tests confirmed hypopituitarism (hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism, central hypothyroidism and hypocortisolism) and central nervous system imaging revealed a pituitary macroadenoma. The patient underwent transcranial pituitary adenoma resection and the pathology report described a GCT of the neurohypophysis with low mitotic index. The reported case is noteworthy for the rarity of the clinicopathological entity.

Learning points:

  • Symptomatic GCTs are rare CNS tumours whose cell of origin is not well defined that usually give rise to visual symptoms, headache and endocrine dysfunction.
  • Imaging is quite unspecific and diagnosis is difficult to establish preoperatively.
  • Surgical excision is challenging due to lesion’s high vascularity and propensity to adhere to adjacent structures.
  • The reported case is noteworthy for the rarity of the clinicopathological entity.
Open access

Taieb Ach, Hela Marmouch, Dorra Elguiche, Asma Achour, Hajer Marzouk, Hanene Sayadi, Ines Khochtali, and Mondher Golli

Summary

Kallmann syndrome (KS) is a form of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in combination with a defect in sense of smell, due to abnormal migration of gonadotropin-releasing hormone-producing neurons. We report a case of a 17-year-old Tunisian male who presented with eunuchoid body proportions, absence of facial, axillary and pubic hair, micropenis and surgically corrected cryptorchidism. Associated findings included anosmia. Karyotype was 46XY and hormonal measurement hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. MRI of the brain showed bilateral agenesis of the olfactory bulbs and 3.5 mm pituitary microadenoma. Hormonal assays showed no evidence of pituitary hypersecretion.

Learning points:

  • The main clinical characteristics of KS include hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and anosmia or hyposmia.
  • MRI, as a non-irradiating technique, should be the first radiological step for investigating the pituitary gland as well as abnormalities of the ethmoid, olfactory bulbs and tracts in KS.
  • KS may include anterior pituitary hypoplasia or an empty sella syndrome. The originality of our case is that a microadenoma also may be encountered in KS. Hormonal assessment indicated the microadenoma was non-functioning. This emphasizes the importance of visualizing the pituitary region in KS patients to assess for hypoplastic pituitary malformations or adenomas.
Open access

N Chelaghma, J Rajkanna, J Trotman, G Fuller, T Elsey, SM Park, and SO Oyibo

Summary

Hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism is due to impaired or reduced gonadotrophin secretion from the pituitary gland. In the absence of any anatomical or functional lesions of the pituitary or hypothalamic gland, the hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism is referred to as idiopathic hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism (IHH). We present a case of a young lady born to consanguineous parents who was found to have IHH due to a rare gene mutation.

Learning points:

  • The genetic basis of a majority of cases of IHH remains unknown.
  • IHH can have different clinical endocrine manifestations.
  • Patients can present late to the healthcare service because of unawareness and stigmata associated with the clinical features.
  • Family members of affected individuals can be affected to varying degrees.
Open access

Alicia R Jones, Alan McNeil, Christopher Yates, Bala Krishnamurthy, and Peter S Hamblin

Summary

A variety of neoplastic, inflammatory and congenital conditions can cause pituitary stalk thickening. Differentiating between these causes is important as targeted treatment may be offered. Diagnostic work-up consists of a thorough history, examination, biochemical analysis and imaging. We present the case of a 33-year-old male who presented with diabetes insipidus and had pituitary stalk thickening on magnetic resonance imaging. Further investigations revealed an elevated CSF βhCG, which raised the possibility of an intracranial germ cell tumor. However, when repeated on four different assays, the βhCG levels were discordant. On serial imaging, the pituitary stalk thickening reduced slightly, which would be unexpected for a germ cell tumor. This case raises the difficulties interpreting CSF βhCG, as not all immunoassays for βhCG have been validated for use in CSF. The Roche Diagnostics Elecsys and Siemens Centaur assays have been validated for CSF βhCG, and so we advocate using one of these methods. If unavailable or serum/CSF results are ambiguous, serial MRI is appropriate, with pituitary stalk biopsy considered if the stalk measures >6.5 mm or other imaging abnormalities are present.

Learning points:

  • Most adult patients with central diabetes insipidus have imaging abnormalities on a pituitary MRI. The most common abnormalities are loss of the posterior pituitary bright spot and pituitary stalk thickening, both of which are non-specific.
  • Causes of pituitary stalk thickening include neoplastic, inflammatory, infective and congenital lesions.
  • Investigation of pituitary stalk thickening should encompass the many possible causes and include biochemical analyses as well as imaging of the chest, abdomen and pelvis. Further investigations should be guided by the clinical context, but may include testicular ultrasound, CSF analysis and pituitary stalk biopsy.
  • Germ cell tumors involving the pituitary stalk may be suspected on clinical grounds, but in the absence of a tissue diagnosis (biopsy) confirmation may be difficult and relies on biochemical assessment of blood and possibly CSF as well as serial MRI imaging.
  • CSF βhCG levels should be analyzed on an instrument validated for use in CSF or on multiple instruments, and the pitfalls of testing this marker (false negative in some germ cell tumors, false positives in other conditions, lack of internationally agreed reference ranges for diagnosing germ cell tumors) should be considered when interpreting the results.
Open access

Ana G Ferreira, Tiago N Silva, Henrique V Luiz, Filipa D Campos, Maria C Cordeiro, and Jorge R Portugal

Sellar plasmacytomas are rare and the differential diagnosis with non-functioning pituitary adenomas might be difficult because of clinical and radiological resemblance. They usually present with neurological signs and intact anterior pituitary function. Some may already have or eventually progress to multiple myeloma. We describe a case associated with extensive anterior pituitary involvement, which is a rare form of presentation. A 68-year-old man was referred to our Endocrinology outpatient clinic due to gynecomastia, reduced libido and sexual impotence. Physical examination, breast ultrasound and mammography confirmed bilateral gynecomastia. Blood tests revealed slight hyperprolactinemia, low testosterone levels, low cortisol levels and central hypothyroidism. Sellar MRI showed a heterogeneous sellar mass (56 × 60 × 61 mm), initially suspected as an invasive macroadenoma. After correcting the pituitary deficits with hydrocortisone and levothyroxine, the patient underwent transsphenoidal surgery. Histological examination revealed a plasmacytoma and multiple myeloma was ruled out. The patient was unsuccessfully treated with radiation therapy (no tumor shrinkage). Myeloma ultimately developed, with several other similar lesions in different locations. The patient was started on chemotherapy, had a bone marrow transplant and is now stable (progression free) on lenalidomide and dexamethasone. The presenting symptoms and panhypopituitarism persisted, requiring chronic replacement treatment with levothyroxine, hydrocortisone and testosterone.

Learning points:

  • Plasmacytomas, although rare, are a possible type of sellar masses, which have a completely different treatment approach, so it is important to make the correct diagnosis.
  • Usually, they present with neurological signs and symptoms and a well-preserved pituitary function, but our case shows that anterior pituitary function can be severely compromised.
  • Making a more extensive evaluation (clinical and biochemical) might provide some clues to this diagnosis.
Open access

Irene Berges-Raso, Olga Giménez-Palop, Elisabeth Gabau, Ismael Capel, Assumpta Caixàs, and Mercedes Rigla

Summary

Kallmann syndrome is a genetically heterogeneous form of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism caused by gonadotropin-releasing hormone deficiency and characterized by anosmia or hyposmia due to hypoplasia of the olfactory bulbs; osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome can develop due to longstanding untreated hypogonadism. Kallmann syndrome affects 1 in 10 000 men and 1 in 50 000 women. Defects in 17 genes, including KAL1, have been implicated. Kallmann syndrome can be associated with X-linked ichthyosis, a skin disorder characterized by early onset dark, dry, irregular scales affecting the limb and trunk, caused by a defect of the steroid sulfatase gene (STS). Both KAL1 and STS are located in the Xp22.3 region; therefore, deletions in this region cause a contiguous gene syndrome. We report the case of a 32-year-old man with ichthyosis referred for evaluation of excessive height (2.07 m) and weight (BMI: 29.6 kg/m2), microgenitalia and absence of secondary sex characteristics. We diagnosed Kallmann syndrome with ichthyosis due to a deletion in Xp22.3, a rare phenomenon.

Learning points:

  • Kallmann syndrome is a genetically heterogeneous disease characterized by hypogonadotropic hypogonadism with anosmia or hyposmia associated with defects in the production or action of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and hypoplasia of the olfactory bulbs.
  • Several genes have been implicated in Kallmann syndrome, including KAL1, located in the Xp22.3 region, which is responsible for X-linked Kallmann syndrome. KAL1 encodes the protein anosmin-1. X-linked ichthyosis is caused by deficiency of the steroid sulfatase enzyme, encoded by STS, which is also located in the Xp22.3 region. Deletions involving this region can affect both genes and result in contiguous gene syndromes.
  • Phenotype can guide clinicians toward suspicion of a specific genetic mutation. KAL1 mutations are mostly related to microgenitalia, unilateral renal agenesis and synkinesia, although patients need not present all these abnormalities.
  • Longstanding untreated hypogonadism is associated with poor sexual health, osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome with the concomitant risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity.
  • Treatment aims to promote the development of secondary sex characteristics, build and sustain normal bone and muscle mass and restore fertility. Treatment can also help minimize some psychological consequences.
  • Treatments available for patients with congenital GnRH deficiency such as Kallmann syndrome include gonadal steroid hormones, human gonadotropins and GnRH. The choice of therapy depends on the goal or goals.