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Open access

Anna Tortora, Domenico La Sala and Mario Vitale

Summary

Reduced intestinal absorption of levothyroxine (LT4) is the most common cause of failure to achieve an adequate therapeutic target in hypothyroid patients under replacement therapy. We present the case of a 63-year-old woman with autoimmune hypothyroidism previously well-replaced with tablet LT4 who became unexpectedly no more euthyroid. At presentation, the patient reported the onset of acute gastrointestinal symptoms characterized by nausea, loss of appetite, flatulence, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, associated with increase of thyrotropin levels (TSH: 11 mIU/mL). Suspecting a malabsorption disease, a thyroxine solid-to-liquid formulation switch, at the same daily dose, was adopted to reach an optimal therapeutic target despite the gastrointestinal symptoms persistence. Oral LT4 solution normalized thyroid hormones. Further investigations diagnosed giardiasis, and antibiotic therapy was prescribed. This case report is compatible with a malabsorption syndrome caused by an intestinal parasite (Giardia lamblia). The reduced absorption of levothyroxine was resolved by LT4 oral solution.

Learning points:

  • The failure to adequately control hypothyroidism with oral levothyroxine is a common clinical problem.

  • Before increasing levothyroxine dose in a patient with hypothyroidism previously well-controlled with LT4 tablets but no more in appropriate therapeutic target, we suggest to investigate non adhesion to LT4 therapy, drug or food interference with levothyroxine absorption, intestinal infection, inflammatory intestinal disease, celiac disease, lactose intolerance, short bowel syndrome after intestinal or bariatric surgery, hepatic cirrhosis and congestive heart failure.

  • LT4 oral solution has a better absorptive profile than the tablet. In hypothyroid patients affected by malabsorption syndrome, switch of replacement therapy from tablet to liquid LT4 should be tested before increasing the dose of LT4.

Open access

Michal Barabas, Isabel Huang-Doran, Debbie Pitfield, Hazel Philips, Manoj Goonewardene, Ruth T Casey and Benjamin G Challis

Summary

A 67-year-old woman presented with a generalised rash associated with weight loss and resting tachycardia. She had a recent diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. Biochemical evaluation revealed elevated levels of circulating glucagon and chromogranin B. Cross-sectional imaging demonstrated a pancreatic lesion and liver metastases, which were octreotide-avid. Biopsy of the liver lesion confirmed a diagnosis of well-differentiated grade 2 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour, consistent with metastatic glucagonoma. Serial echocardiography commenced 4 years before this diagnosis demonstrated a progressive left ventricular dilatation and dysfunction in the absence of ischaemia, suggestive of glucagonoma-associated dilated cardiomyopathy. Given the severity of the cardiac impairment, surgical management was considered inappropriate and somatostatin analogue therapy was initiated, affecting clinical and biochemical improvement. Serial cross-sectional imaging demonstrated stable disease 2 years after diagnosis. Left ventricular dysfunction persisted, however, despite somatostatin analogue therapy and optimal medical management of cardiac failure. In contrast to previous reports, the case we describe demonstrates that chronic hyperglucagonaemia may lead to irreversible left ventricular compromise. Management of glucagonoma therefore requires careful and serial evaluation of cardiac status.

Learning points:

  • In rare cases, glucagonoma may present with cardiac failure as the dominant feature. Significant cardiac impairment may occur in the absence of other features of glucagonoma syndrome due to subclinical chronic hyperglucagonaemia.

  • A diagnosis of glucagonoma should be considered in patients with non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy, particularly those with other features of glucagonoma syndrome.

  • Cardiac impairment due to glucagonoma may not respond to somatostatin analogue therapy, even in the context of biochemical improvement.

  • All patients with a new diagnosis of glucagonoma should be assessed clinically for evidence of cardiac failure and, if present, a baseline transthoracic echocardiogram should be performed. In the presence of cardiac impairment these patients should be managed by an experienced cardiologist.

Open access

Alireza Arefzadeh, Pooyan Khalighinejad, Bahar Ataeinia and Pegah Parvar

Summary

Deletion of chromosome 2q37 results in a rare congenital syndrome known as brachydactyly mental retardation (BDMR) syndrome; a syndrome which has phenotypes similar to Albright hereditary osteodystrophy (AHO) syndrome. In this report, we describe a patient with AHO due to microdeletion in long arm of chromosome 2 [del(2)(q37.3)] who had growth hormone (GH) deficiency, which is a unique feature among reported BDMR cases. This case was presented with shortening of the fourth and fifth metacarpals which along with AHO phenotype, brings pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism (PPHP) and pseudohypoparathyroidism type Ia (PHP-Ia) to mind; however, a genetic study revealed del(2)(q37.3). We recommend clinicians to take BDMR in consideration when they are faced with the features of AHO; although this syndrome is a rare disease, it should be ruled out while diagnosing PPHP or PHP-Ia. Moreover, we recommend evaluation of IGF 1 level and GH stimulation test in patients with BDMR whose height is below the 3rd percentile.

Learning points:

  • Clinicians must have brachydactyly mental retardation (BDMR) syndrome in consideration when they are faced with the features of Albright hereditary osteodystrophy.

  • Although BDMR syndrome is a rare disease, it should be ruled out while diagnosing PPHP or PHP-Ia.

  • Evaluation of IGF1 level in patients diagnosed with BDMR whose height is below the 3rd percentile is important.

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

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.

Open access

C P Neves, E T Massolt, R P Peeters, S J Neggers and W W de Herder

Summary

A 21-year-old woman presented with amenorrhea, bilateral galactorrhea and fatigue. Visual acuity and visual fields were normal. Laboratory examination demonstrated hyperprolactinemia. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the pituitary showed a 19×17×12-mm sellar mass with supra- and parasellar extension, causing compression of the pituitary stalk and optic chiasm. Further examinations confirmed mild hyperprolactinemia, strongly elevated TSH (>500 mU/l), low free thyroxine (FT4), hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and secondary adrenal insufficiency. Hydrocortisone and l-T4 replacement therapy was started. Three months later, the galactorrhea had disappeared, thyroid function was normalized and MRI revealed regression of the pituitary enlargement, confirming the diagnosis of pituitary hyperplasia (PH) due to primary hypothyroidism. Subsequently, the menstrual cycle returned and the hypocortisolism normalized. This case demonstrates that severe primary hypothyroidism may have an unusual presentation and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of pituitary enlargement associated with moderate hyperprolactinemia.

Learning points

  • One should always try to find one etiology as the common cause of all the clinical findings in a pathologic process.

  • Amenorrhea, galactorrhea and fatigue may be the only presenting clinical manifestations of primary hypothyroidism.

  • Not every patient with galactorrhea, hyperprolactinemia and a pituitary mass has a prolactinoma.

  • Primary hypothyroidism should always be considered in the differential diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia associated with pituitary enlargement and pituitary hormone(s) deficiency(ies).

  • When PH due to primary hypothyroidism is suspected, thyroid hormone replacement should be started and only regression of pituitary enlargement on MRI follow-up can confirm the diagnosis.

  • Examination of thyroid function in patients with a pituitary mass may avoid unnecessary surgery.

Open access

Andrea Pucci, Wui Hang Cheung, Jenny Jones, Sean Manning, Helen Kingett, Marco Adamo, Mohamed Elkalaawy, Andrew Jenkinson, Nicholas Finer, Jacqueline Doyle, Majid Hashemi and Rachel L Batterham

Summary

Sleeve gastrectomy (SG) is the second most commonly performed bariatric procedure worldwide. Altered circulating gut hormones have been suggested to contribute post-operatively to appetite suppression, decreased caloric intake and weight reduction. In the present study, we report a 22-year-old woman who underwent laparoscopic SG for obesity (BMI 46 kg/m2). Post-operatively, she reported marked appetite reduction, which resulted in excessive weight loss (1-year post-SG: BMI 22 kg/m2, weight loss 52%, >99th centile of 1-year percentage of weight loss from 453 SG patients). Gastrointestinal (GI) imaging, GI physiology/motility studies and endoscopy revealed no anatomical cause for her symptoms, and psychological assessments excluded an eating disorder. Despite nutritional supplements and anti-emetics, her weight loss continued (BMI 19 kg/m2), and she required nasogastric feeding. A random gut hormone assessment revealed high plasma peptide YY (PYY) levels. She underwent a 3 h meal study following an overnight fast to assess her subjective appetite and circulating gut hormone levels. Her fasted nausea scores were high, with low hunger, and these worsened with nutrient ingestion. Compared to ten other post-SG female patients, her fasted circulating PYY and nutrient-stimulated PYY and active glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) levels were markedly elevated. Octreotide treatment was associated with suppressed circulating PYY and GLP1 levels, increased appetite, increased caloric intake and weight gain (BMI 22 kg/m2 after 6 months). The present case highlights the value of measuring gut hormones in patients following bariatric surgery who present with anorexia and excessive weight loss and suggests that octreotide treatment can produce symptomatic relief and weight regain in this setting.

Learning points

  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and SG produce marked sustained weight reduction. However, there is a marked individual variability in this reduction, and post-operative weight loss follows a normal distribution with extremes of ‘good’ and ‘poor’ response.

  • Profound anorexia and excessive weight loss post-SG may be associated with markedly elevated circulating fasted PYY and post-meal PYY and GLP1 levels.

  • Octreotide treatment can produce symptomatic relief and weight regain for post-SG patients that have an extreme anorectic and weight loss response.

  • The present case highlights the value of measuring circulating gut hormone levels in patients with post-operative anorexia and extreme weight loss.

Open access

Betty Korljan Jelaska, Sanja Baršić Ostojić, Nina Berović and Višnja Kokić

Summary

Glycogen storage disease (GSD) type I is characterized by impaired production of glucose from glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis resulting in severe hypoglycaemia and increased production of lactic acid, triglyceride and uric acid. The most common type, glycogenosis type Ia, demands a balanced, sufficient carbohydrate intake to preserve normal 24-h glycaemia. Insufficient intake of carbohydrates can cause hypoglycaemia, as the missing glucose-6-phosphatase enzyme cannot free the glucose stored as liver glycogen and nor is gluconeogenesis possible. The principle means of handling this disorder is to avoid starving by taking regular meals during the day and night. Such a dietary regimen could lead to obesity. Herein, we present the case of an adult patient with glycogenosis type Ia suffering from hyperuricaemia, dyslipidaemia and arterial hypertension. The accumulation of these cardiovascular risk factors could lead to the early onset of atherosclerosis, which should be postponed by contemporary methods of surveillance and treatment.

Learning points

  • Continuous subcutaneous glucose monitoring may be of value in every adult patient with GSD type I to evaluate the actual prevalence of eventual hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemic episodes.

  • Good dietary management minimizes the metabolic abnormalities of the disease and decreases the risk of long-term complications.

  • Treatment of obesity in patients with GSD reduces the risk of earlier atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.