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Jenny S W Yun Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Chris McCormack Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Michelle Goh Department of Surgical Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Cherie Chiang Department of Internal Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

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Summary

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. However, AN has been rarely reported in patients with insulinoma, a state of persistent hyperinsulinemia. We present a case of metastatic insulinoma, in whom AN manifested after the first cycle of peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). A 40-year-old man was diagnosed with metastatic insulinoma after 5 months of symptomatic hypoglycemia. Within 1 month post PRRT, the patient became euglycemic but developed a pigmented, pruritic rash which was confirmed on biopsy as AN. We discuss the rare manifestation of AN in subjects with insulinoma, the role of insulin in the pathogenesis of AN, malignant AN in non-insulin-secreting malignancies and association with other insulin-resistant endocrinopathies such as acromegaly.

Learning points

  • Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis which is typically asymptomatic and associated with the hyperinsulinemic state.

  • Malignant AN can rapidly spread, cause pruritus and affect mucosa and the oral cavity.

  • AN is extremely rare in patients with insulinoma despite marked hyperinsulinemia.

  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy might have triggered TGF-α secretion in this subject which led to malignant AN.

  • Rapid spread or unusual distribution of pruritic AN warrants further investigation to exclude underlying malignancy.

Open access
Adrian Po Zhu Li Department of Endocrinology ASO/EASO COM, King ’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK

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Sheela Sathyanarayan Department of Endocrinology ASO/EASO COM, King ’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK

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Salvador Diaz-Cano Departments of Cellular Pathology and Molecular Pathology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK
Division of Cancer Studies, King’s College London, London, UK

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Sobia Arshad Department of Endocrinology ASO/EASO COM, King ’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK

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Eftychia E Drakou Department of Clinical Oncology, Guy’s Cancer Centre – Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Great Maze Pond, London, UK

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Royce P Vincent Department of Clinical Biochemistry, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK
Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, School of Life Course Sciences, King’s College London, London, UK

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Ashley B Grossman Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Barts and the London School of Medicine, Centre for Endocrinology, William Harvey Institute, London, UK
Neuroendocrine Tumour Unit, Royal Free Hospital, London, UK

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Simon J B Aylwin Department of Endocrinology ASO/EASO COM, King ’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK

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Georgios K Dimitriadis Department of Endocrinology ASO/EASO COM, King ’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK
Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Immunometabolism Research Group, Department of Diabetes, Faculty of Life Sciences, School of Life Course Sciences, King’s College London, London, UK
Division of Reproductive Health, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

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Summary

A 49-year-old teacher presented to his general physician with lethargy and lower limb weakness. He had noticed polydipsia, polyuria, and had experienced weight loss, albeit with an increase in central adiposity. He had no concomitant illnesses and took no regular medications. He had hypercalcaemia (adjusted calcium: 3.34 mmol/L) with hyperparathyroidism (parathyroid hormone: 356 ng/L) and hypokalaemia (K: 2.7 mmol/L) and was admitted for i.v. potassium replacement. A contrast-enhanced CT chest/abdomen/pelvis scan revealed a well-encapsulated anterior mediastinal mass measuring 17 × 11 cm with central necrosis, compressing rather than invading adjacent structures. A neck ultrasound revealed a 2 cm right inferior parathyroid lesion. On review of CT imaging, the adrenals appeared normal, but a pancreatic lesion was noted adjacent to the uncinate process. His serum cortisol was 2612 nmol/L, and adrenocorticotrophic hormone was elevated at 67 ng/L, followed by inadequate cortisol suppression to 575 nmol/L from an overnight dexamethasone suppression test. His pituitary MRI was normal, with unremarkable remaining anterior pituitary biochemistry. His admission was further complicated by increased urine output to 10 L/24 h and despite three precipitating factors for the development of diabetes insipidus including hypercalcaemia, hypokalaemia, and hypercortisolaemia, due to academic interest, a water deprivation test was conducted. An 18flurodeoxyglucose-PET (FDG-PET) scan demonstrated high avidity of the mediastinal mass with additionally active bilateral superior mediastinal nodes. The pancreatic lesion was not FDG avid. On 68Ga DOTATE-PET scan, the mediastinal mass was moderately avid, and the 32 mm pancreatic uncinate process mass showed significant uptake. Genetic testing confirmed multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1.

Learning points

  • In young patients presenting with primary hyperparathyroidism, clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of other underlying endocrinopathies.

    In patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1) and ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone syndrome (EAS), clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of this originating from a neoplasm above or below the diaphragm.

  • Although relatively rare compared with sporadic cases, thymic carcinoids secondary to MEN-1 may also be associated with EAS.

  • Electrolyte derangement, in particular hypokalaemia and hypercalcaemia, can precipitate mild nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.

Open access
Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni Department of Endocrinology, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

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Donato Iacovazzo Department of Endocrinology, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

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Jane Evanson St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Barts and the London NHS Trust, London, UK

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Anju Sahdev St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Barts and the London NHS Trust, London, UK

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Jacqueline Trouillas Department of Pathology, Groupement Hospitalier Est, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Bron, France

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Lorraine McAndrew St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Barts and the London NHS Trust, London, UK

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Tom R Kurzawinski Division of Endocrine Surgery, University College Hospital, London, UK

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David Bryant Sunderland Royal Hospital, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, UK

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Khalid Hussain Division of Endocrinology, Sidra Medicine, Doha, Ad Dawhah, Qatar

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Satya Bhattacharya St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Barts and the London NHS Trust, London, UK

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Márta Korbonits Department of Endocrinology, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

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Summary

A male patient with a germline mutation in MEN1 presented at the age of 18 with classical features of gigantism. Previously, he had undergone resection of an insulin-secreting pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (pNET) at the age of 10 years and had subtotal parathyroidectomy due to primary hyperparathyroidism at the age of 15 years. He was found to have significantly elevated serum IGF-1, GH, GHRH and calcitonin levels. Pituitary MRI showed an overall bulky gland with a 3 mm hypoechoic area. Abdominal MRI showed a 27 mm mass in the head of the pancreas and a 6 mm lesion in the tail. Lanreotide-Autogel 120 mg/month reduced GHRH by 45% and IGF-1 by 20%. Following pancreaticoduodenectomy, four NETs were identified with positive GHRH and calcitonin staining and Ki-67 index of 2% in the largest lesion. The pancreas tail lesion was not removed. Post-operatively, GHRH and calcitonin levels were undetectable, IGF-1 levels normalised and GH suppressed normally on glucose challenge. Post-operative fasting glucose and HbA1c levels have remained normal at the last check-up. While adolescent-onset cases of GHRH-secreting pNETs have been described, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported case of ectopic GHRH in a paediatric setting leading to gigantism in a patient with MEN1. Our case highlights the importance of distinguishing between pituitary and ectopic causes of gigantism, especially in the setting of MEN1, where paediatric somatotroph adenomas causing gigantism are extremely rare.

Learning points

  • It is important to diagnose gigantism and its underlying cause (pituitary vs ectopic) early in order to prevent further growth and avoid unnecessary pituitary surgery. The most common primary tumour sites in ectopic acromegaly include the lung (53%) and the pancreas (34%) (1): 76% of patients with a pNET secreting GHRH showed a MEN1 mutation (1).

  • Plasma GHRH testing is readily available in international laboratories and can be a useful diagnostic tool in distinguishing between pituitary acromegaly mediated by GH and ectopic acromegaly mediated by GHRH. Positive GHRH immunostaining in the NET tissue confirms the diagnosis.

  • Distinguishing between pituitary (somatotroph) hyperplasia secondary to ectopic GHRH and pituitary adenoma is difficult and requires specialist neuroradiology input and consideration, especially in the MEN1 setting. It is important to note that the vast majority of GHRH-secreting tumours (lung, pancreas, phaeochromocytoma) are expected to be visible on cross-sectional imaging (median diameter 55 mm) (1). Therefore, we suggest that a chest X-ray and an abdominal ultrasound checking the adrenal glands and the pancreas should be included in the routine work-up of newly diagnosed acromegaly patients.

Open access
Seong Keat Cheah Endocrinology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Chad Ramese Bisambar Endocrinology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Deborah Pitfield Endocrinology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Olivier Giger Pathology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Rogier ten Hoopen Pathology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Jose-Ezequiel Martin Medical Genetics, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Graeme R Clark Medical Genetics, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Soo-Mi Park Medical Genetics, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Craig Parkinson Endocrinology, East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, Colchester, Essex, UK

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Benjamin G Challis Endocrinology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Ruth T Casey Endocrinology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK
Medical Genetics, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Summary

A 38-year-old female was identified as carrying a heterozygous pathogenic MEN1 variant (c.1304delG) through predictive genetic testing, following a diagnosis of familial hyperparathyroidism. Routine screening for parathyroid and pituitary disease was negative. However, cross-sectional imaging by CT revealed a 41 mm pancreatic tail mass. Biopsy via endoscopic ultrasound confirmed the lesion to be a well-differentiated (grade 1) pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (pNET) with MIB1<1%. Biochemically, hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia was confirmed following an overnight fast, which was subsequently managed by diet alone prior to definitive surgery. Pre-operative work-up with octreotide SPECT CT demonstrated avid tracer uptake in the pancreatic lesion and, unexpectedly, a focal area of uptake in the left breast. Further investigation, and subsequent mastectomy, confirmed ductal carcinoma in situ pT2 (23 mm) grade 1, N0 (ER positive; HER2 negative). Following mastectomy, our patient underwent a successful distal pancreatectomy to resect the pNET. Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the MEN1 locus was found in both the breast tumour and pNET, thereby in keeping with a 'two-hit' hypothesis of oncogenesis, a suggestive but non-definitive clue for causation. To obtain further support for a causative relationship between MEN1 and breast cancer, we undertook a detailed review of the published literature which overall supports the notion that breast cancer is a MEN1-related malignancy that presents at a younger age and histologically, is typically of ductal subtype. Currently, clinical guidance regarding breast cancer surveillance in MEN1 does not exist and further research is required to establish a clinical and cost-effective surveillance strategy).

Learning points

  • We describe a case of pNET and breast cancer diagnosed at a young age of 38 years in a patient who is heterozygous for a pathogenic MEN1 variant. Loss of the wild-type allele was seen in both breast tissue and pNET specimen.

  • Breast cancer may be an under-recognised MEN1-associated malignancy that presents at a younger age than in the general population with a relative risk of 2–3.

  • Further research is required to determine the cost-effectiveness of breast cancer surveillance approach at a younger age in MEN1 patients relative to the general population .

Open access
Michal Barabas Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Isabel Huang-Doran Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK

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Debbie Pitfield Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Hazel Philips Department of Cardiology, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Bedford, UK

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Manoj Goonewardene Department of Cardiology, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Bedford, UK

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Ruth T Casey Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Benjamin G Challis Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
IMED Biotech Unit, Clinical Discovery Unit, AstraZeneca, Cambridge, UK

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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
A Veltroni ENETS Center of Excellence, Department of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy

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G Zambon ENETS Center of Excellence, Department of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy

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S Cingarlini ENETS Center of Excellence, Department of Oncology, University of Verona, Verona, Italy

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M V Davì ENETS Center of Excellence, Department of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy

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Summary

Insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS), a rare cause of autoimmune hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia, is relatively well known in Japan. The incidence in Caucasians is less than one-fifth of that reported in Japanese people, but it is becoming increasingly recognised worldwide in non-Asians as well. Drugs containing sulphydryl groups are known to be associated with the disease in genetically predisposed individuals. Moreover, several recent reports showed a direct association between the onset of IAS and the consumption of dietary supplements containing alpha-lipoic acid (LA). Insulinoma remains the most prevalent cause of hypersulinaemic hypoglycaemia in Caucasians. Consequently, primary investigation in these patients is generally focused on localisation of the pancreatic tumour, often with invasive procedures followed by surgery. We described a case of an Italian woman presenting to us with severe recurrent hypoglycaemia associated with high insulin and C-peptide levels and no evidence of pancreatic lesions at imaging diagnostic procedures. She had taken LA until 2 weeks before hospitalisation. After an evaluation of her drug history, an autoimmune form of hypoglycaemia was suspected and the titre of insulin autoantibodies was found to be markedly elevated. This allowed us to diagnose LA-related IAS, thus preventing any unnecessary surgery and avoiding invasive diagnostic interventions.

Learning points:

  • IAS is a rare cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia that typically affects Asian population, but it has been increasingly recognised in Caucasian patients.

  • It should be considered among the differential diagnosis of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia to avoid unnecessary diagnostic investigations and surgery.

  • It should be suspected in the presence of very high serum insulin levels (100–10  000  μU/mL) associated with high C-peptide levels.

  • There is a strong association with administration of drugs containing sulphydryl groups included LA, a dietary supplement commonly used in Western countries to treat peripheral neuropathy.

Open access
Senhong Lee of Endocrinology, Monash Health, Clayton, Victoria, Australia

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Aparna Morgan of Endocrinology, Monash Health, Clayton, Victoria, Australia

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Sonali Shah of Endocrinology, Monash Health, Clayton, Victoria, Australia

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Peter R Ebeling of Endocrinology, Monash Health, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
Department of Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia

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Summary

We report a case of a 67-year-old man with type 2 diabetes presented with diabetic ketoacidosis, two weeks after his first dose of nivolumab therapy for non–small-cell lung carcinoma. He was started on empagliflozin two days prior in the setting of hyperglycaemia after the initiation of nivolumab therapy. Laboratory evaluation revealed an undetectable C-peptide and a positive anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibody. He was treated with intravenous fluids and insulin infusion and was subsequently transitioned to subcutaneous insulin and discharged home. He subsequently has developed likely autoimmune thyroiditis and autoimmune encephalitis.

Learning points:

  • Glycemic surveillance in patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors is recommended.

  • Early glycemic surveillance after commencement of anti-programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) inhibitors may be indicated in selected populations, including patients with underlying type 2 diabetes mellitus and positive anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibody.

  • Sodium-glucose co transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors should be used with caution in patients on immunotherapy.

Open access
Sarah Y Qian Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

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Matthew J L Hare Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

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Alan Pham Department of Anatomical Pathology, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

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Duncan J Topliss Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
Department of Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

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Summary

Insulinomas are rare neuroendocrine tumours that classically present with fasting hypoglycaemia. This case report discusses an uncommon and challenging case of insulinoma soon after upper gastrointestinal surgery. A 63-year-old man presented with 6 months of post-prandial hypoglycaemia beginning after a laparoscopic revision of Toupet fundoplication. Hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia was confirmed during a spontaneous episode and in a mixed-meal test. Localisation studies including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and gallium dotatate positron emission tomography (68Ga Dotatate PET) were consistent with a small insulinoma in the mid-body of the pancreas. The lesion was excised and histopathology was confirmed a localised well-differentiated neuroendocrine pancreatic neoplasm. There have been no significant episodes of hypoglycaemia since. This case highlights several key points. Insulinoma should be sought in proven post-prandial hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia – even in the absence of fasting hypoglycaemia. The use of nuclear imaging targeting somatostatin and GLP1 receptors has improved accuracy of localisation. Despite these advances, accurate surgical resection can remain challenging.

Learning points:

  • Hypoglycaemia is defined by Whipple’s triad and can be provoked by fasting or mixed-meal tests.

  • Although uncommon, insulinomas can present with post-prandial hypoglycaemia.

  • In hypoglycaemia following gastrointestinal surgery (i.e. bariatric surgery or less commonly Nissen fundoplication) dumping syndrome or non-insulinoma pancreatogenous hypoglycaemia syndrome (NIPHS) should be considered.

  • Improved imaging techniques including MRI, endoscopic ultrasound and functional nuclear medicine scans aid localisation of insulinomas.

  • Despite advances in imaging and surgical techniques, accurate resection of insulinomas remains challenging.

Open access
Kamel Mohammedi Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Bichat Hospital, Department of Diabetology, Endocrinology and Nutrition, 46 rue Henri Huchard, 75877 Paris Cedex 18, France

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Charbel Abi Khalil Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Bichat Hospital, Department of Diabetology, Endocrinology and Nutrition, 46 rue Henri Huchard, 75877 Paris Cedex 18, France

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Sophie Olivier Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Bichat Hospital, Department of Diabetology, Endocrinology and Nutrition, 46 rue Henri Huchard, 75877 Paris Cedex 18, France

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Imane Benabad Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Bichat Hospital, Department of Diabetology, Endocrinology and Nutrition, 46 rue Henri Huchard, 75877 Paris Cedex 18, France

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Ronan Roussel Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Bichat Hospital, Department of Diabetology, Endocrinology and Nutrition, 46 rue Henri Huchard, 75877 Paris Cedex 18, France

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Michel Marre Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Bichat Hospital, Department of Diabetology, Endocrinology and Nutrition, 46 rue Henri Huchard, 75877 Paris Cedex 18, France

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Summary

Hypoglycemia is a common medical emergency. It is the most frequent complication induced by anti-diabetic treatment. However, it can be observed in other conditions unrelated to diabetes such as insulinoma, autoimmune disorders, and neoplasia. Herein, we report the case of a rare cause of severe and recurrent hypoglycemia in a 77-year-old woman with a malignant solitary fibrous tumor (MSFT). A 77-year-old woman was admitted to the emergency department for loss of consciousness induced by severe hypoglycemia. Her standard laboratory findings were unremarkable. HbA1c, albumin, renal, liver, thyroid, and adrenal function tests were normal. Cerebral CT scan was also normal. At the time of confirmed hypoglycemia, the serum level of insulin and C-peptide was low. On the basis of the past medical history and the absence of other comment etiologies, a paraneoplastic cause was suspected. Thus, the diagnosis of a non-islet cell tumor-induced hypoglycemia (NICTH) was established by the presence of incompletely processed precursors of IGF2 (big IGF2) in plasma electrophoresis. However, the IGF1 level was low. Therapy with corticosteroids improved hypoglycemia and clinical symptoms. NICTH is a rare cause of hypoglycemia. It should be considered in patients with mesenchymal or malignant epithelial tumors suffering from recurrent episodes of hypoglycemia. The diagnosis will be established in the case of low serum insulin concentrations and elevated levels of big IGF2. Treatment with corticosteroids, GH, or both can improve hypoglycemic symptoms and restore plasma glucose to normal levels.

Learning points

  • NICTH is a very rare condition that should be considered in patients known to have mesenchymal or malignant epithelial tumors and suffering from recurrent episodes of hypoglycemia.

  • The diagnosis of an NICTH is established on the basis of the hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia, the MSFT history, and the presence of paraneoplastic secretion of IGF1 or an immature form of IGF2.

  • Treatment with corticosteroids, GH, or both can improve hypoglycemic symptoms and restore plasma glucose to normal levels in NICTH.

Open access
S Solomou Department of Endocrinology, Barts and the London School of Medicine, QMUL, W SmithfieldEC1A 7BE, London, UK

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R Khan Department of Endocrinology, Barts and the London School of Medicine, QMUL, W SmithfieldEC1A 7BE, London, UK

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D Propper Department of Oncology, Barts and the London School of Medicine, QMUL, W SmithfieldEC1A 7BE, London, UK

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D Berney Department of Histopathology, Barts and the London School of Medicine, QMUL, W SmithfieldEC1A 7BE, London, UK

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M Druce Department of Endocrinology, Barts and the London School of Medicine, QMUL, W SmithfieldEC1A 7BE, London, UK

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Summary

A 33-year-old male was diagnosed with a metastatic neuroendocrine carcinoma of uncertain primary. He defaulted from follow-up without therapy and some months later developed episodic severe hypoglycaemia, which was found to be associated with inappropriately elevated insulin and C-peptide levels. It was considered likely that the neuroendocrine tumour was the source of the insulin secretion. Diazoxide and somatostatin analogue were used to control hypoglycaemia. Much later in the course of the disease, he developed metabolic derangement, increased skin pigmentation and psychological disturbance, without frankly Cushingoid physical findings. Investigations revealed highly elevated cortisol levels (the levels having previously been normal) with markedly raised ACTH levels, consistent with the co-secretion of ACTH and insulin by the tumour. Treatment with metyrapone improved his psychological state and electrolyte imbalance. Unfortunately, despite several cycles of first-, second- and third-line chemotherapy from the start of the first hormonal presentation onwards, imaging revealed widespread progressive metastatic disease and the patient eventually passed away. This case highlights the importance of keeping in mind the biochemical heterogeneity of endocrine tumours during their treatment.

Learning points

  • The clinical presentation of insulin-secreting tumours includes symptoms of neuroglycopaenia and sympathetic overstimulation.

  • Tumour-associated hypoglycaemia can be due to pancreatic insulinomas, and although ectopic hormone production occurs in a number of tumours, ectopic secretion of insulin is rare.

  • A possible switch in the type of hormone produced can occur during the growth and progression of neuroendocrine tumours and, when treating neuroendocrine tumours, it is important to keep in mind their biochemical heterogeneity.

Open access