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Open access

Benjamin G Challis, Nicolai J Wewer Albrechtsen, Vishakha Bansiya, Keith Burling, Peter Barker, Bolette Hartmann, Fiona Gribble, Stephen O'Rahilly, Jens J Holst and Helen L Simpson

Summary

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (pNETs) secreting proglucagon are associated with phenotypic heterogeneity. Here, we describe two patients with pNETs and varied clinical phenotypes due to differential processing and secretion of proglucagon-derived peptides (PGDPs). Case 1, a 57-year-old woman presented with necrolytic migratory erythema, anorexia, constipation and hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia. She was found to have a grade 1 pNET, small bowel mucosal thickening and hyperglucagonaemia. Somatostatin analogue (SSA) therapy improved appetite, abolished hypoglycaemia and improved the rash. Case 2, a 48-year-old male presented with diabetes mellitus, diarrhoea, weight loss, nausea, vomiting and perineal rash due to a grade 1 metastatic pNET and hyperglucagonaemia. In both cases, plasma levels of all measured PGDPs were elevated and attenuated following SSA therapy. In case 1, there was increased production of intact glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and GLP-2, similar to that of the enteroendocrine L cell. In case 2, pancreatic glucagon was elevated due to a pancreatic α-cell-like proglucagon processing profile. In summary, we describe two patients with pNETs and heterogeneous clinical phenotypes due to differential processing and secretion of PGDPs. This is the first description of a patient with symptomatic hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia and marked gastrointestinal dysfunction due to, in part, a proglucagon-expressing pNET.

Learning points

  • PGDPs exhibit a diverse range of biological activities including critical roles in glucose and amino acid metabolism, energy homeostasis and gastrointestinal physiology.

  • The clinical manifestations of proglucagon-expressing tumours may exhibit marked phenotypic variation due to the biochemical heterogeneity of their secreted peptide repertoire.

  • Specific and precise biochemical assessment of individuals with proglucagon-expressing tumours may provide opportunities for improved diagnosis and clinical management.

Open access

Shweta Birla, Viveka P Jyotsna, Rajiv Singla, Madhavi Tripathi and Arundhati Sharma

Summary

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1) is a rare autosomal-dominant disease characterized by tumors in endocrine and/or non endocrine organs due to mutations in MEN1 encoding a nuclear scaffold protein‘menin’ involved in regulation of different cellular activities. We report a novel 14 bp MEN1 deletion mutation in a 35-year-old female with history of recurrent epigastric pain, vomiting, loose stools and weight loss. On evaluation she was diagnosed to have multifocal gastro-duodenal gastrinoma with paraduodenal lymph nodes and solitary liver metastasis. She was also found to have primary hyperparathyroidism with bilateral inferior parathyroid adenoma. Pancreatico-duodenectomy with truncalvagotomy was performed. Four months later, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of segment 4 of the liver was done followed by three and a half parathyroidectomy. MEN1 screening was carried out for the patient and her family members. MEN-1 sequencing in the patient revealed a heterozygous 14 bp exon 8 deletion. Evaluation for pathogenicity and protein structure prediction showed that the mutation led to a frameshift thereby causing premature termination resulting in a truncated protein. To conclude, a novel pathogenic MEN1 deletion mutation affecting its function was identified in a patient with hyperparathyroidism and gastrinoma. The report highlights the clinical consequences of the novel mutation and its impact on the structure and function of the protein. It also provides evidence for co-existence of pancreatic and duodenal gastrinomas in MEN1 syndrome. MEN1 testing provides important clues regarding etiology and therefore should be essentially undertaken in asymptomatic first degree relatives who could be potential carriers of the disease.

Learning points

  • Identification of a novel pathogenic MEN1 deletion mutation.

  • MEN1 mutation screening in patients with pituitary, parathyroid and pancreatic tumors, and their first degree relatives gives important clues about the etiology.

  • Pancreatic and duodenal gastrinomas may co-exist simultaneously in MEN1 syndrome.

Open access

Avital Nahmias, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Asher Salmon and David J Gross

Summary

Approximately 35% of the pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs) are functional, the most common of which is an insulinoma. Rarely can initially nonfunctioning tumor undergo biological transformation to a hormone-secreting tumor with subsequent changes in the clinical picture. We present here three unique patients with long-standing pNETs who developed life-threatening hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia along with tumor progression. In two of the patients, everolimus (Afinitor) was administered in an attempt to control both tumor growth and hypoglycemia. In two cases everolimus therapy resulted in the abolishment of hypoglycemia and induced significant tumor regression; however these beneficial responses were transient. These cases highlight the exceptional ability of pNETs to change biological behavior in parallel with disease progression. Our experience concurs with recently published studies demonstrating the utility of everolimus for the control of both hypoglycemia and tumor progression.

Learning points

  • Nonfunctional pNET can gain new features such as insulin secretion with related morbidity.

  • Gain of function in a previously nonfunctional pNET signifies tumor progression and is usually associated with poor prognosis.

  • Everolimus proved to be a viable treatment for hypoglycemia in insulinoma patients and was also proven highly effective in the patients presented here.

  • As disease progresses, the effect of everolimus on hypoglycemia wanes. We report for the first time the development of hypoglycemia during everolimus treatment.