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Open access

Caoimhe Casey and Tom Higgins

Summary

Subacute thyroiditis is an inflammatory disorder of the thyroid gland that has previously been described following viral illnesses and occasionally post vaccination such as influenza vaccine. 2021 was a revolutionary year for the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations with multiple different vaccines now available. There are increasing numbers of case reports of thyroiditis following these vaccinations. We report a case of a 50-year-old female who developed subacute thyroiditis 6 days post ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222 produced by AstraZeneca Vaxzevria). The initial thyrotoxic phase was followed by overt hypothyroidism. This resolved spontaneously within 5 months without levothyroxine replacement. We hope that our case will add to the growing literature of cases of thyroiditis occurring after multiple different types of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination and create awareness of this rare but treatable adverse effect. We also review the literature on the proposed mechanisms behind this adverse effect.

Learning points

  • Subacute thyroiditis is an inflammatory disorder of the thyroid gland that can occur after a viral illness or vaccination against certain infections.

  • Subacute thyroiditis is a rare adverse effect that has been reported to occur after different types of SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations.

  • Subacute thyroiditis post vaccination is relatively straightforward to manage, with some patients requiring non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and beta-blockers, while more severe cases may require corticosteroid therapy. This adverse effect should not dissuade vaccination use at a population level.

  • There are many postulated mechanisms for the development of subacute thyroiditis following vaccination including the presence of the ACE-2 receptor for SARS-CoV-2 on the thyroid gland, an inflammatory/immune response as is seen in COVID-19 infection itself and molecular mimicry between SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and healthy thyroid antigen.

Open access

Mohammed Anwar Hussain, Aneez Joseph, Vinoo Mathew Cherian, Alok Srivastava, Kripa Elizabeth Cherian, Nitin Kapoor, and Thomas Vizhalil Paul

Summary

Although bisphosphonates (BPs) are mainly used for the treatment of osteoporosis and are generally safe, long-term use and more dosage as utilised in malignant conditions may be associated with the rare adverse event of an atypical femoral fracture (AFF). Occasionally, the risk of developing an AFF persists long after BPs are withdrawn. A 39-year-old woman who underwent chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplantation for multiple myeloma presented to us with history of pain in the left thigh. She had received multiple doses of oral and parenteral BPs for about 10 years in view of the underlying myeloma with osteoporosis. Her investigations showed a suppressed CTX of 192 pg/mL, and radiograph of pelvis displayed thickened cortices with beaking of the left femoral shaft, which was suggestive of an AFF. Following discontinuation of BPs, she underwent prophylactic intra-medullary nailing with which her symptoms improved. Five years later, she presented with similar complaints on the right side. Investigations showed that her bone turnover continued to be suppressed with Cross linked C- Telopeptide of type 1 collagen (CTX) of 165 pg/mL and an X-ray done showed AFF on the right side despite being off BPs. A second intra-medullary nailing was done and on follow-up, she has been symptom-free and independent in her daily activities. Discontinuation of BPs may not prevent the incident second AFF and, therefore, thus warranting long-term follow-up.

Learning points

  • Regular screening and follow-up of patients who receive long-term bisphosphonate (BP) therapy should be done.

  • Discontinuation of BPs does not preclude the possibility of repeated occurrence of a second AFF.

  • Long-term BP therapy warrants regular monitoring and follow-up should an AFF occur

Open access

Daniel S Brenner, Keith Kleinman, Amy Manzo, Melania M Bembea, and David W Cooke

Summary

Anaphylaxis is a rapidly progressive potentially lethal condition, and epinephrine is the most crucial medication in its treatment. In this study, we present a case of diabetic ketoacidosis in a young woman that was precipitated by the administration of epinephrine to treat anaphylaxis. This patient had diabetes mellitus and poor glycemic control and developed ketoacidosis despite having evidence of ongoing endogenous insulin production and having been treated with exogenous long-acting insulin less than 24 h prior to the event. This is a rare, serious, adverse side effect of life-saving medication. This report demonstrates that the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis should be considered when administering epinephrine to patients with diabetes, even in the absence of complete insulin deficiency.

Learning points

  • Epinephrine directly suppresses insulin secretion, stimulates lipolysis, and causes ketone body generation.

  • High-dose catecholamine administration can cause unexpected diabetic ketoacidosis in patients with risk factors.

  • Early administration of insulin may not protect patients from developing ketoacidosis in the setting of high-dose catecholamine administration.

Open access

Annabelle G Hayes, Mahesh M Umapathysivam, and David J Torpy

Summary

Sulphonylureas are insulinotropic and are not only useful in patients with diabetes but also act in non-diabetic individuals where hypoglycaemia and hyperinsulinism mimic insulinoma. We present a 63-year-old man who presented with inadvertent sulphonylurea-induced life-threatening hypoglycaemia on two occasions, resulting in hazardous and invasive investigation. Biochemistry revealed endogenous hyperinsulinaemia, with elevated serum c-peptide and insulin concentrations during symptomatic hypoglycaemia, and plasma glucose of 1.7 mmol/L. There was no history of sulphonylurea use prompting anatomical insulinoma studies to locate an insulinoma. However, a routine plasma insulinoma screen-detected glimepiride. Directed history implicated a medication taken for erectile dysfunction prior to disturbed consciousness, with alcohol. The tablets, obtained online, were analysed by mass spectrometry and contained tadalafil and dapoxetine as advertised but also contained glimepiride.

Learning points

  • Symptomatic unexplained hypoglycaemia requires investigation with plasma glucose level, c-peptide, insulin level, pro-insulin, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and a sulphonylurea screen regardless of known exposure to sulphonylureas.

  • Consider contamination of alternative or undisclosed medication, including PDE-5 inhibitor erectile dysfunction drugs.

  • Concomitant alcohol may impair glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis, exacerbating hypoglycaemia.

Open access

Sophie Bondje, Camilla Barnes, and Felicity Kaplan

Summary

Milk–alkali syndrome (MAS) is a triad of hypercalcaemia, metabolic alkalosis and renal insufficiency. In this study, we present a case of milk–alkali syndrome secondary to concurrent use of over-the-counter (OTC) calcium carbonate-containing antacid tablets (Rennie®) for dyspepsia and calcium carbonate with vitamin D3 (Adcal D3) for osteoporosis. A 72-year-old woman presented with a 2-day history of nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, constipation, lethargy and mild delirium. Past medical history included osteoporosis treated with daily Adcal D3. Initial blood tests showed elevated serum-adjusted calcium of 3.77 mmol/L (normal range, 2.2–2.6) and creatinine of 292 µmol/L (45–84) from a baseline of 84. This was corrected with i.v. pamidronate and i.v. fluids. She developed asymptomatic hypocalcaemia and rebound hyperparathyroidism. Myeloma screen, vasculitis screen and serum angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) were normal, while the CT of the chest, abdomen and pelvis showed renal stones but no malignancy. A bone marrow biopsy showed no evidence of malignancy. Once the delirium resolved, we established that prior to admission, she had been excessively self-medicating with over-the-counter antacids (Rennie®) as required for epigastric pain. The increasing use of calcium preparations for the management of osteoporosis in addition to easily available OTC dyspepsia preparations has made MAS the third most common cause of hypercalcaemia hospitalisations. Educating patients and healthcare professionals on the risks associated with these seemingly safe medications is required. Appropriate warning labels on both calcium preparations used in the management of osteoporosis and OTC calcium-containing preparations would prevent further similar cases and unnecessary morbidity and hospital admission.

Learning points

What is known?

  • An association between high-dose calcium supplementation and hypercalcaemia crisis has been seen in case studies.

  • After as little as 1 week of excessive calcium carbonate ingestion, patients can present with symptomatic hypercalcemia, acute renal failure and metabolic alkalosis ().

  • Women aged 50 and younger need 1 g of calcium per day, while aged 51 and older need 1.2 g ().

  • Although the amount of calcium required for MAS is generally thought to be more than 4 g per day, there have been reports at intakes as low as 1.0–1.5 g per day in pre-existing risk factors including renal impairment ().

What this study adds?

  • The danger of excessive ingestion of antacid is not adequately highlighted to prescribers and patients.

  • Appropriate warning labels on OTC calcium-containing preparations could prevent unnecessary morbidity and hospital admission.

Open access

Mone Murashita, Norio Wada, Shuhei Baba, Hajime Sugawara, Arina Miyoshi, and Shinji Obara

Summary

We report a 26-year-old Japanese man who visited our outpatient clinic presenting fever immediately after i.m. injection of the second dose of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine (Moderna®). At the first visit, the patient had a fever of 37.7°C and a swollen thyroid gland with mild tenderness. He was diagnosed with subacute thyroiditis (SAT) based on the presence of thyrotoxicosis (free tri-iodothyronine, 32.3 pg/mL; free thyroxine, >7.77 ng/dL; and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) < 0.01 μIU/mL), high C-reactive protein level (7.40 mg/dL), negative TSH receptor antibody, and characteristic ultrasound findings. His HLA types were A*02:01/24:02, B*15:11/35:01, Cw*03:03, DRB1*09:01/12:01, DQB1*03:03, and DPB1*05: 01/41:01. He was initially administered prednisolone 15 mg/day, following which the fever subsided. After 10 days, he developed limb weakness and could not walk. The serum potassium level decreased to 1.8 mEq/L, which confirmed the diagnosis of thyrotoxic periodic paralysis (TPP). Potassium supplementation was initiated. The muscle weakness gradually decreased. Prednisolone therapy was terminated 6 weeks after the first visit. His thyroid function returned to normal 5 months after the first visit, through a hypothyroid state. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of TPP-associated SAT following COVID-19 vaccination. Persistent fever following vaccination should be suspected of SAT. Additionally, TPP may be associated with SAT in Asian male patients.

Learning points

  • Following coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination, subacute thyroiditis may develop regardless of the vaccine type.

  • If persistent fever, anterior neck pain, swelling and tenderness of thyroid gland, and symptoms of thyrotoxicosis are observed immediately after the COVID-19 vaccination, examination in consideration of the onset of subacute thyroiditis is recommended.

  • HLA-B35 may be associated with the onset of subacute thyroiditis after the COVID-19 vaccination.

  • Although rare, subacute thyroiditis can be associated with thyrotoxic periodic paralysis, especially in Asian men.

  • Glucocorticoid therapy for subacute thyroiditis may induce thyrotoxic periodic paralysis through hypokalemia.

Open access

Maheswaran Dhanasekaran, Siddharth Narayanan, Ioannis Mastoris, and Suchita Mehta

Summary

Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors (SGLT2i) induce osmotic diuresis by inhibiting the proximal renal tubular reabsorption of the filtered glucose load, which in turn can occasionally lead to severe dehydration and hypotension amidst other adverse effects. We present a case of a 49-year-old man with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) on canagliflozin, a SGLT2i. The patient was brought to the emergency room following a motor vehicle accident. He was confused and had an altered mental status. His blood alcohol and urine toxicology screens were negative. Initial investigations revealed that he had severe hyponatremia with euglycemic ketoacidosis. The adverse condition was reversed with close monitoring and timely management, and the patient was eventually discharged. This is the first report to suggest hyponatremia as a potentially serious adverse effect following SGLT2i therapy. Its impact on the renal tubule handling of sodium and water is not yet well characterized. While further studies are warranted to understand better the pathophysiological mechanisms associated with SGLT2i-induced adverse effects, timely dose reduction or perhaps even its temporary discontinuation may be recommended to prevent complications.

Learning points

  • Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors (SGLT2i) are usually well-tolerated, but some serious adverse effects have been documented.

  • Our case report suggests hyponatremia as a potential, rare side effect of SGLT2i and makes physicians aware of the occurrence of such life-threatening but preventable complications.

  • Timely and close monitoring of the patient, with temporary discontinuation of this drug, may be recommended towards effective management.

  • Studies demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of SGLT2i-related electrolyte derangements are warranted.

Open access

Clara Cunha, Eugénia Silva, Ana Cláudia Vieira, Catarina Saraiva, and Sequeira Duarte

Summary

Immunotherapy has become an important pillar for the management of advanced cancer. Immune-related adverse events including endocrinopathies have been well described with programmed cell death 1 inhibitors such as pembrolizumab. While thyroid dysfunction is the most common endocrinopathy associated with pembrolizumab, new-onset autoimmune diabetes mellitus (DM) is extremely rare. The authors report a case of pembrolizumab-induced primary hypothyroidism and type 1 diabetes mellitus presenting with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). A 59-year-old female patient was treated with pembrolizumab for a stage 4 lung adenocarcinoma. She presented to the emergency department with hyperglycaemia-related signs and symptoms, such as polyuria, polydipsia, weight loss, vomiting, asthenia and dehydration, 3 weeks after her first dose of pembrolizumab. Laboratory evaluation revealed hyperglycaemia, hyperketonaemia and high anion gap metabolic acidaemia consistent with DKA. After prompt and adequate treatment of DKA, she transitioned to s.c. basal-bolus insulin. The diagnose of autoimmune DM was established based on the undetectable C-peptide levels and seropositivity for antiglutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies. Additional hormonal parameters revealed overt hypothyroidism and levothyroxine therapy was initiated. This case highlights the importance of blood glucose and thyroid function monitoring as an integral part of cancer treatment protocols for pembrolizumab and other immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Learning points

  • Programmed cell death 1 (PD1) inhibitors such as pembrolizumab can cause endocrine immune-related adverse events (irAE), including thyroid dysfunction and type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

  • Thyroid dysfunction is the most frequent endocrine irAE secondary to PD1 inhibitors.

  • Autoimmune diabetes and possible resultant diabetic ketoacidosis are rare, but life-threatening adverse events associated with pembrolizumab.

  • Pembrolizumab-induced T1DM often present with relatively low HbAlc levels, reflecting the fulminant onset of β-cell destruction.

  • Patients treated with pembrolizumab and other immune checkpoints inhibitors should be monitored regularly for hyperglycaemia and thyroid dysfunction.

Open access

Farooq Khan and Mary Jane Brassill

Summary

There is emerging evidence of an association between COVID-19 vaccination and subacute thyroiditis. We present the case of a 42-year-old female healthcare worker who was diagnosed with subacute thyroiditis 4 days after receiving her second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Her clinical course followed the classical pattern for thyroiditis with spontaneous return to euthyroidism at 6 months post-presentation. The autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants has been implicated as a cause of autoimmune conditions post-vaccination and is a potential mechanism for subacute thyroiditis in our case.

Learning points

  • Subacute thyroiditis should be considered in all patients who receive any kind of vaccine for COVID-19 and subsequently develop symptoms or signs of hyperthyroidism or neck pain.

  • Subacute thyroiditis is a self-limiting condition, and recognising it is important as no specific thyroid treatment (antithyroid drugs or thyroid hormone replacement) is necessary for most patients.

  • The autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants may be an under-recognised cause of endocrinopathies and should particularly be considered post-vaccination.

Open access

S Ludgate, S P Connolly, D Fennell, M F Muhamad, I Welaratne, A Cotter, and S E McQuaid

Summary

Both human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and antiretroviral therapy (ART) are associated with endocrine dysfunction (1). The term 'immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome' (IRIS) describes an array of inflammatory conditions that occur during the return of cell-mediated immunity following ART. Graves’ disease (GD) occurs rarely as an IRIS following ART. In this study, we describe the case of a 40-year-old Brazilian female who was diagnosed with HIV following admission with cryptococcal meningitis and salmonellosis. At this time, she was also diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency. Her CD4 count at diagnosis was 17 cells/µL which rose to 256 cells/µL over the first 3 months of ART. Her HIV viral load, however, consistently remained detectable. When viral suppression was finally achieved 21 months post diagnosis, an incremental CD4 count of 407 cells/µL over the following 6 months ensued. Subsequently, she was diagnosed with a late IRIS to cryptococcus 32 months following initial ART treatment, which manifested as non-resolving lymphadenitis and resolved with high-dose steroids. Following the initiation of ART for 45 months, she developed symptomatic Graves’ hyperthyroidism. At this time, her CD4 count had risen to 941 cells/µL. She has been rendered euthyroid on carbimazole. This case serves to remind us that GD can occur as an IRIS post ART and typically has a delayed presentation.

Learning points

  • Endocrinologists should be aware of the endocrine manifestations of HIV disease, in particular, thyroid pathology.

  • Endocrinologists should be aware that IRIS can occur following the initiation of ART.

  • Thyroid dysfunction can occur post ART of which Graves' disease (GD) is the most common thyroid manifestation.

  • GD as a manifestation of ART-induced IRIS can have a delayed presentation.

  • Infectious disease physicians should be aware of endocrine manifestations associated with HIV and ART.