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Open access

S F Wan Muhammad Hatta, L Kandaswamy, C Gherman-Ciolac, J Mann and H N Buch

Summary

Myopathy is a well-known complication of hypercortisolism and commonly involves proximal lower-limb girdle. We report a rare case of Cushing’s syndrome in a 60-year-old female presenting with significant respiratory muscle weakness and respiratory failure. She had history of rheumatoid arthritis, primary biliary cirrhosis and primary hypothyroidism and presented with weight gain and increasing shortness of breath. Investigations confirmed a restrictive defect with impaired gas transfer but with no significant parenchymatous pulmonary disease. Respiratory muscle test confirmed weakness of respiratory muscles and diaphragm. Biochemical and radiological investigations confirmed hypercortisolaemia secondary to a left adrenal tumour. Following adrenalectomy her respiratory symptoms improved along with an objective improvement in the respiratory muscle strength, diaphragmatic movement and pulmonary function test.

Learning points:

  • Cushing’s syndrome can present in many ways, a high index of suspicion is required for its diagnosis, as often patients present with only few of the pathognomonic symptoms and signs of the syndrome.

  • Proximal lower-limb girdle myopathy is common in Cushing’s syndrome. Less often long-term exposure of excess glucocorticoid production can also affect other muscles including respiratory muscle and the diaphragm leading to progressive shortness of breath and even acute respiratory failure.

  • Treatment of Cushing’s myopathy involves treating the underlying cause that is hypercortisolism. Various medications have been suggested to hinder the development of GC-induced myopathy, but their effects are poorly analysed.

Open access

Anna Casteràs, Lídia Darder, Carles Zafon, Juan Antonio Hueto, Margarita Alberola, Enric Caubet and Jordi Mesa

Summary

Skeletal manifestations of primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT) include brown tumors (BT), which are osteoclastic focal lesions often localized in the jaws. Brown tumors are a rare manifestation of pHTP in Europe and USA; however, they are frequent in developing countries, probably related to vitamin D deficiency and longer duration and severity of disease. In the majority of cases, the removal of the parathyroid adenoma is enough for the bone to remineralize, but other cases require surgery. Hyperparathyroidism in MEN1 develops early, and is multiglandular and the timing of surgery remains questionable. To our knowledge, there are no reports of BT in MEN 1 patients. We present a 29-year-old woman with MEN 1 who developed a brown tumor of the jaw 24 months after getting pregnant, while breastfeeding. Serum corrected calcium remained under 2.7 during gestation, and at that point reached a maximum of 2.82 mmol/L. Concomitant PTH was 196 pg/mL, vitamin D 13.7 ng/mL and alkaline phosphatase 150 IU/L. Bone mineral density showed osteopenia on spine and femoral neck (both T-scores = −1.6). Total parathyroidectomy was performed within two weeks, with a failed glandular graft autotransplantation, leading to permanent hypoparathyroidism. Two months after removal of parathyroid glands, the jaw tumor did not shrink; thus, finally it was successfully excised. We hypothesize that higher vitamin D and mineral requirements during maternity may have triggered an accelerated bone resorption followed by appearance of the jaw BT. We suggest to treat pHPT before planning a pregnancy in MEN1 women or otherwise supplement with vitamin D, although this approach may precipitate severe hypercalcemia.

Learning points:

  • Brown tumors of the jaw can develop in MEN 1 patients with primary hyperparathyroidism at a young age (less than 30 years).

  • Pregnancy and lactation might trigger brown tumors by increasing mineral and vitamin D requirements.

  • Early parathyroidectomy is advisable in MEN 1 patients with primary hyperparathyroidism, at least before planning a pregnancy.

  • Standard bone mineral density does not correlate with the risk of appearance of a brown tumor.

  • Removal of parathyroid glands does not always lead to the shrinkage of the brown tumor, and surgical excision may be necessary.

Open access

Marisa M Fisher, Susanne M Cabrera and Erik A Imel

Summary

Neonatal severe hyperparathyroidism (NSHPT) is a rare disorder caused by inactivating calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) mutations that result in life-threatening hypercalcemia and metabolic bone disease. Until recently, therapy has been surgical parathyroidectomy. Three previous case reports have shown successful medical management of NSHPT with cinacalcet. Here we present the detailed description of two unrelated patients with NSHPT due to heterozygous R185Q CASR mutations. Patient 1 was diagnosed at 11 months of age and had developmental delays, dysphagia, bell-shaped chest, and periosteal bone reactions. Patient 2 was diagnosed at 1 month of age and had failure to thrive, osteopenia, and multiple rib fractures. Cinacalcet was initiated at 13 months of age in patient 1, and at 4 months of age in patient 2. We have successfully normalized their parathyroid hormone and alkaline phosphatase levels. Despite the continuance of mild hypercalcemia (11–12 mg/dl), both patients showed no hypercalcemic symptoms. Importantly, patient 1 had improved neurodevelopment and patient 2 never experienced any developmental delays after starting cinacalcet. Neither experienced fractures after starting cinacalcet. Both have been successfully managed long-term without any significant adverse events. These cases expand the current literature of cinacalcet use in NSHPT to five successful reported cases. We propose that cinacalcet may be considered as an option for treating the severe hypercalcemia and metabolic bone disease found in infants and children with inactivating CASR disorders.

Learning points

  • NSHPT due to mutations in the CASR gene occurs with hypercalcemia and metabolic bone disease, but not always with severe critical illness in infancy.

  • NSHPT should be considered in the differential diagnosis for a newborn with a bell-shaped chest, osteopenia, and periosteal reactions.

  • Neurodevelopmental consequences may occur in children with hypercalcemia and may improve during treatment.

  • Calcimimetics can be used to successfully treat the pathophysiology of NSHPT directly to control serum calcium levels.