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Open access

Lukas Burget, Laura Audí Parera, Monica Fernandez-Cancio, Rolf Gräni, Christoph Henzen and Christa E Flück

Summary

Steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STAR) is a key protein for the intracellular transport of cholesterol to the mitochondrium in endocrine organs (e.g. adrenal gland, ovaries, testes) and essential for the synthesis of all steroid hormones. Several mutations have been described and the clinical phenotype varies strongly and may be grouped into classic lipoid congenital adrenal hyperplasia (LCAH), in which all steroidogenesis is disrupted, and non-classic LCAH, which resembles familial glucocorticoid deficiency (FGD), which affects predominantly adrenal functions. Classic LCAH is characterized by early and potentially life-threatening manifestation of primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI) with electrolyte disturbances and 46,XY disorder of sex development (DSD) in males as well as lack of pubertal development in both sexes. Non-classic LCAH manifests usually later in life with PAI. Nevertheless, life-long follow-up of gonadal function is warranted. We describe a 26-year-old female patient who was diagnosed with PAI early in life without detailed diagnostic work-up. At the age of 14 months, she presented with hyperpigmentation, elevated ACTH and low cortisol levels. As her older brother was diagnosed with PAI two years earlier, she was put on hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone replacement therapy before an Addisonian crisis occurred. Upon review of her case in adulthood, consanguinity was noted in the family. Genetic analysis for PAI revealed a homozygous mutation in the STAR gene (c.562C>T, p.Arg188Cys) in both siblings. This mutation has been previously described in non-classic LCAH. This case illustrates that early onset, familial PAI is likely due to autosomal recessive genetic mutations in known genes causing PAI.

Learning points:

  • In childhood-onset PAI, a genetic cause is most likely, especially in families with consanguinity.
  • Adult patients with an etiologically unsolved PAI should be reviewed repeatedly and genetic work-up should be considered.
  • Knowing the exact genetic diagnosis in PAI is essential for genetic counselling and may allow disease-specific treatment.
  • Young men and women with NCLAH due to homozygous STAR Arg188Cys mutation should be investigated for their gonadal function as hypogonadism and infertility might occur during puberty or in early adulthood.
Open access

Yael R Nobel, Maya B Lodish, Margarita Raygada, Jaydira Del Rivero, Fabio R Faucz, Smita B Abraham, Charalampos Lyssikatos, Elena Belyavskaya, Constantine A Stratakis and Mihail Zilbermint

Summary

Autosomal recessive pseudohypoaldosteronism type 1 (PHA1) is a rare disorder characterized by sodium wasting, failure to thrive, hyperkalemia, hypovolemia and metabolic acidosis. It is due to mutations in the amiloride-sensitive epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and is characterized by diminished response to aldosterone. Patients may present with life-threatening hyperkalemia, which must be recognized and appropriately treated. A 32-year-old female was referred to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for evaluation of hyperkalemia and muscle pain. Her condition started in the second week of life, when she was brought to an outside hospital lethargic and unresponsive. At that time, she was hypovolemic, hyperkalemic and acidotic, and was eventually treated with sodium bicarbonate and potassium chelation. At the time of the presentation to the NIH, her laboratory evaluation revealed serum potassium 5.1 mmol/l (reference range: 3.4–5.1 mmol/l), aldosterone 2800 ng/dl (reference range: ≤21 ng/dl) and plasma renin activity 90 ng/ml/h (reference range: 0.6–4.3 ng/ml per h). Diagnosis of PHA1 was suspected. Sequencing of the SCNN1B gene, which codes for ENaC, revealed that the patient is a compound heterozygote for two novel variants (c.1288delC and c.1466+1 G>A), confirming the suspected diagnosis of PHA1. In conclusion, we report a patient with novel variants of the SCNN1B gene causing PHA1 with persistent, symptomatic hyperkalemia.

Learning points

  • PHA1 is a rare genetic condition, causing functional abnormalities of the amiloride-sensitive ENaC.
  • PHA1 was caused by previously unreported SCNN1B gene mutations (c.1288delC and c.1466+1 G>A).
  • Early recognition of this condition and adherence to symptomatic therapy is important, as the electrolyte abnormalities found may lead to severe dehydration, cardiac arrhythmias and even death.
  • High doses of sodium polystyrene sulfonate, sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate are required for symptomatic treatment.