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Open access

Regina Streuli, Ina Krull, Michael Brändle, Walter Kolb, Günter Stalla, Marily Theodoropoulou, Annette Enzler-Tschudy and Stefan Bilz

Summary

Ectopic ACTH/CRH co-secreting tumors are a very rare cause of Cushing’s syndrome and only a few cases have been reported in the literature. Differentiating between Cushing’s disease and ectopic Cushing’s syndrome may be particularly difficult if predominant ectopic CRH secretion leads to pituitary corticotroph hyperplasia that may mimic Cushing’s disease during dynamic testing with both dexamethasone and CRH as well as bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling (BIPSS). We present the case of a 24-year-old man diagnosed with ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome caused by an ACTH/CRH co-secreting midgut NET. Both high-dose dexamethasone testing and BIPSS suggested Cushing’s disease. However, the clinical presentation with a rather rapid onset of cushingoid features, hyperpigmentation and hypokalemia led to the consideration of ectopic ACTH/CRH-secretion and prompted a further workup. Computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen revealed a cecal mass which was identified as a predominantly CRH-secreting neuroendocrine tumor. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of an ACTH/CRH co-secreting tumor of the cecum presenting with biochemical features suggestive of Cushing’s disease.

Learning points:

  • The discrimination between a Cushing’s disease and ectopic Cushing’s syndrome is challenging and has many caveats.

  • Ectopic ACTH/CRH co-secreting tumors are very rare.

  • Dynamic tests as well as BIPSS may be compatible with Cushing’s disease in ectopic CRH-secretion.

  • High levels of CRH may induce hyperplasia of the corticotroph cells in the pituitary. This could be the cause of a preserved pituitary response to dexamethasone and CRH.

  • Clinical features of ACTH-dependent hypercortisolism with rapid development of Cushing’s syndrome, hyperpigmentation, high circulating levels of cortisol with associated hypokalemia, peripheral edema and proximal myopathy should be a warning flag of ectopic Cushing’s syndrome and lead to further investigations.

Open access

Runa Acharya and Udaya M Kabadi

Summary

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is commonly encountered in clinical practice. The current case is a unique and rare presentation of DKA as the initial manifestation of Cushing’s disease secondary to ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma. Appropriate management as elaborated in the article led to total remission of diabetes as well as the Cushing’s disease.

Learning points:

  • DKA is a serious and potentially life-threatening metabolic complication of diabetes mellitus.

  • Some well-known precipitants of DKA include new-onset T1DM, insulin withdrawal and acute illness.

  • In a patient presenting with DKA, the presence of a mixed acid–base disorder warrants further evaluation for precipitants of DKA.

  • We present a rare case of DKA as an initial manifestation of Cushing’s disease secondary to ACTH-producing pituitary adenoma.

Open access

Shweta Birla, Sameer Aggarwal, Arundhati Sharma and Nikhil Tandon

Summary

Carney complex (CNC) is a rare autosomal dominant syndrome characterized by pigmented lesions of the skin and mucosae along with cardiac, endocrine, cutaneous, and neural myxomatous tumors. Mutations in the PRKAR1A gene have been identified in ∼70% of the CNC cases reported worldwide. A 30-year-old male was referred to the endocrinology clinic with suspected acromegaly. He had a history of recurrent atrial myxoma for the past 8 years for which he underwent repeated surgeries. Presently, he complained of having headache, excessive snoring, sweating, and also noticed increase in his shoe size. Evaluation for acromegaly revealed elevated levels of GH in random as well as in suppressed condition. Magnetic resonance imaging scan revealed enlarged sella with microadenoma in the left anterior pituitary. Screening of PRKAR1A gene was carried out for the patient, his parents and siblings who were available and willing to undergo the test. The patient was diagnosed to have the rare CNC syndrome characterized by recurrent atrial myxoma and acromegaly due to a novel 22 bp insertion mutation in PRKAR1A which was predicted to be deleterious by in silico analysis. Screening the available family members revealed the absence of this mutation in them except the elder brother who also tested positive for this mutation. The present study reports on a novel PRKAR1A insertion mutation in a patient with acromegaly and left atrial myxoma in CNC.

Learning points

  • Identification of a novel deleterious PRKAR1A insertion mutation causing CNC.

  • It is important that patients with cardiac myxoma be investigated for presence of endocrine overactivity suggestive of CNC.

  • PRKAR1A mutation analysis should be undertaken in such cases to confirm the diagnosis in the patients as well as first degree relatives.

  • This case highlights an important aspect of diagnosis, clinical course, and management of this rare condition.

Open access

Rajesh Rajendran, Sarita Naik, Derek D Sandeman and Azraai B Nasruddin

Summary

We report the use of pasireotide in a rare and unusual case of pituitary macroadenoma co-secreting GH, prolactin and ACTH. A 62-year-old Caucasian man presented with impotence. Clinically, he appeared acromegalic and subsequent investigations confirmed GH excess and hyperprolactinaemia. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of pituitary revealed a large pituitary macroadenoma. He underwent trans-sphenoidal surgery and histology confirmed an adenoma with immunohistochemistry positive for ACTH, GH and prolactin. Acromegaly was not cured following surgery and inadequately controlled despite subsequent octreotide therapy. He underwent further debulking pituitary surgery, following which IGF1 levels improved but still high. This time adenoma cells showed immunohistochemistry positivity for ACTH only, following which subsequent investigations confirmed intermittent hypercortisolaemia compatible with pituitary Cushing's disease. We recommended radiotherapy, but in view of the pluripotential nature of the tumour, we proceeded with a trial of s.c. pasireotide therapy on the basis that it may control both his acromegaly and Cushing's disease. After 3 months of pasireotide therapy, his mean GH and IGF1 levels improved significantly, with improvement in his symptoms but intermittent hypercortisolaemia persists. His glycaemic control deteriorated requiring addition of new anti-diabetic medication. MRI imaging showed loss of contrast uptake within the tumour following pasireotide therapy but no change in size. We conclude that our patient has had a partial response to pasireotide therapy. Long-term follow-up studies are needed to establish its safety and efficacy in patients with acromegaly and/or Cushing's disease.

Learning points

  • Plurihormonal pituitary adenomas are rare and unusual.

  • Patients with pituitary adenomas co-secreting ACTH and GH are more likely to present with acromegaly because GH excess can mask hypercortisolaemia.

  • Pasireotide holds potential where conventional somatostatin analogues are not effective in acromegaly due to higher affinity for somatostatin receptor subtypes 1, 2, 3 and 5.

  • Significant deterioration in glycaemic control remains a concern in the use of pasireotide.

  • Currently, long-term safety and efficacy of pasireotide in patients with acromegaly and/or Cushing's disease are not fully clear.