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Open access

John J Orrego and Joseph A Chorny

Summary

We describe a 56-year-old postmenopausal woman with hypertension, hypokalemia and severe alopecia who was found to have a 4.5-cm lipid-poor left adrenal mass on CT scan performed to evaluate her chronic right-sided abdominal pain. Hormonal studies revealed unequivocal evidence of primary aldosteronism and subclinical hypercortisolemia of adrenal origin. Although a laparoscopic left adrenalectomy rendered her normotensive, normokalemic and adrenal insufficient for 2.5 years, her alopecia did not improve and she later presented with facial hyperpigmentation acne, worsening hirsutism, clitoromegaly, and an estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Further testing demonstrated markedly elevated serum androstenedione and total and free testosterone and persistently undetectable DHEAS levels. As biochemical and radiologic studies ruled out primary adrenal malignancy and obvious ovarian neoplasms, a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy was undertaken, which revealed bilateral ovarian hyperthecosis. This case highlights how the clinical manifestations associated with hyperaldosteronism and hypercortisolemia masqueraded the hyperandrogenic findings. It was only when her severe alopecia failed to improve after the resolution of hypercortisolism, hyperandrogenic manifestations worsened despite adrenal insufficiency and an estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer was found, did it becomes apparent that her symptoms were due to ovarian hyperthecosis.

Learning points:

  • As cortisol cosecretion appears to be highly prevalent in patients with primary aldosteronism, the term ‘Connshing’ syndrome has been suggested.
  • The associated subclinical hypercortisolemia could be the driver for the increased metabolic alterations seen in patients with Conn syndrome.
  • The identification of these dual secretors before adrenal venous sampling could alert the clinician about possible equivocal test results.
  • The identification of these dual secretors before unilateral adrenalectomy could avoid unexpected postoperative adrenal crises.
  • Hyperfunctioning adrenal and ovarian lesions can coexist, and the clinical manifestations associated with hypercortisolemia can masquerade the hyperandrogenic findings.
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

Sakshi Jhawar, Rahul Lakhotia, Mari Suzuki, James Welch, Sunita K Agarwal, John Sharretts, Maria Merino, Mark Ahlman, Jenny E Blau, William F Simonds, and Jaydira Del Rivero

Summary

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is an autosomal dominant condition characterized by parathyroid, anterior pituitary and enteropancreatic endocrine cell tumors. Neuroendocrine tumors occur in approximately in 5–15% of MEN1 patients. Very few cases of ovarian NETs have been reported in association with clinical MEN1 and without genetic testing confirmation. Thirty-three-year-old woman with MEN1 was found to have right adnexal mass on computed tomography (CT). Attempt at laparoscopic removal was unsuccessful, and mass was removed via a minilaparotomy in piecemeal fashion. Pathology showed ovarian NET arising from a teratoma. Four years later, patient presented with recurrence involving the pelvis and anterior abdominal wall. She was treated with debulking surgery and somatostatin analogs (SSAs). Targeted DNA sequencing analysis on the primary adnexal mass as well as the recurrent abdominal wall tumor confirmed loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the MEN1 gene locus. This case represents to our knowledge, the first genetically confirmed case of ovarian NET arising by a MEN1 mechanism in a patient with MEN1. Extreme caution should be exercised during surgery as failure to remove an ovarian NET en masse can result in peritoneal seeding and recurrence. For patients with advanced ovarian NETs, systemic therapy options include SSAs, peptide receptor radioligand therapy (PRRT) and novel agents targeting mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

Learning points:

  • Ovarian NET can arise from a MEN1 mechanism, and any adnexal mass in a MEN1 patient can be considered as a possible malignant NET.
  • Given the rarity of this disease, limited data are available on prognostication and treatment. Management strategies are extrapolated from evidence available in NETs from primaries of other origins.
  • Care should be exercised to remove ovarian NETs en bloc as failure to do so may result in peritoneal seeding and recurrence.
  • Treatment options for advanced disease include debulking surgery, SSAs, TKIs, mTOR inhibitors, PRRT and chemotherapy.
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

Jia Xuan Siew and Fabian Yap

Summary

Growth anomaly is a prominent feature in Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (WHS), a rare congenital disorder caused by variable deletion of chromosome 4p. While growth charts have been developed for WHS patients 0–4 years of age and growth data available for Japanese WHS patients 0–17 years, information on pubertal growth and final height among WHS children remain lacking. Growth hormone (GH) therapy has been reported in two GH-sufficient children with WHS, allowing for pre-puberty catch up growth; however, pubertal growth and final height information was also unavailable. We describe the complete growth journey of a GH-sufficient girl with WHS from birth until final height (FH), in relation to her mid parental height (MPH) and target range (TR). Her growth trajectory and pubertal changes during childhood, when she was treated with growth hormone (GH) from 3 years 8 months old till 6 months post-menarche at age 11 years was fully detailed.

Learning points:

  • Pubertal growth characteristics and FH information in WHS is lacking.
  • While pre-pubertal growth may be improved by GH, GH therapy may not translate to improvement in FH in WHS patients.
  • Longitudinal growth, puberty and FH data of more WHS patients may improve the understanding of growth in its various phases (infancy/childhood/puberty).
Open access

Khaled Aljenaee, Sulaiman Ali, Seong Keat Cheah, Owen MacEneaney, Niall Mulligan, Neil Hickey, Tommy Kyaw Tun, Seamus Sreenan, and John H McDermott

Markedly elevated androgen levels can lead to clinical virilization in females. Clinical features of virilization in a female patient, in association with biochemical hyperandrogenism, should prompt a search for an androgen-producing tumor, especially of ovarian or adrenal origin. We herein report the case of a 60-year-old woman of Pakistani origin who presented with the incidental finding of male pattern baldness and hirsutism. Her serum testosterone level was markedly elevated at 21 nmol/L (normal range: 0.4–1.7 nmol/L), while her DHEAS level was normal, indicating a likely ovarian source of her elevated testosterone. Subsequently, a CT abdomen-pelvis was performed, which revealed a bulky right ovary, confirmed on MRI of the pelvis as an enlarged right ovary, measuring 2.9 × 2.2 cm transaxially. A laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy was performed, and histopathological examination and immunohistochemistry confirmed the diagnosis of a Leydig cell tumor, a rare tumor accounting for 0.1% of ovarian tumors. Surgical resection led to normalization of testosterone levels.

Learning points:

  • Hirsutism in postmenopausal women should trigger suspicion of androgen-secreting tumor
  • Extremely elevated testosterone level plus normal DHEAS level point toward ovarian source
  • Leydig cell tumor is extremely rare cause of hyperandrogenicity
Open access

Nandini Shankara Narayana, Anne-Maree Kean, Lisa Ewans, Thomas Ohnesorg, Katie L Ayers, Geoff Watson, Arthur Vasilaras, Andrew H Sinclair, Stephen M Twigg, and David J Handelsman

Summary

46,XX disorders of sexual development (DSDs) occur rarely and result from disruptions of the genetic pathways underlying gonadal development and differentiation. We present a case of a young phenotypic male with 46,XX SRY-negative ovotesticular DSD resulting from a duplication upstream of SOX9 presenting with a painful testicular mass resulting from ovulation into an ovotestis. We present a literature review of ovulation in phenotypic men and discuss the role of SRY and SOX9 in testicular development, including the role of SOX9 upstream enhancer region duplication in female-to-male sex reversal.

Learning points:

  • In mammals, the early gonad is bipotent and can differentiate into either a testis or an ovary. SRY is the master switch in testis determination, responsible for differentiation of the bipotent gonad into testis.
  • SRY activates SOX9 gene, SOX9 as a transcription factor is the second major gene involved in male sex determination. SOX9 drives the proliferation of Sertoli cells and activates AMH/MIS repressing the ovary. SOX9 is sufficient to induce testis formation and can substitute for SRY function.
  • Assessing karyotype and then determination of the presence or absence of Mullerian structures are necessary serial investigations in any case of DSD, except for mixed gonadal dysgenesis identified by karyotype alone.
  • Treatment is ideal in a multidisciplinary setting with considerations to genetic (implications to family and reproductive recurrence risk), psychological aspects (sensitive individualized counseling including patient gender identity and preference), endocrinological (hormone replacement), surgical (cosmetic, prophylactic gonadectomy) fertility preservation and reproductive opportunities and metabolic health (cardiovascular and bones).
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.