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Open access

Ana Dugic, Michael Kryk, Claudia Mellenthin, Christoph Braig, Lorenzo Catanese, Sandy Petermann, Jürgen Kothmann, and Steffen Mühldorfer

Summary

Drinking fruit juice is an increasingly popular health trend, as it is widely perceived as a source of vitamins and nutrients. However, high fructose load in fruit beverages can have harmful metabolic effects. When consumed in high amounts, fructose is linked with hypertriglyceridemia, fatty liver and insulin resistance. We present an unusual case of a patient with severe asymptomatic hypertriglyceridemia (triglycerides of 9182 mg/dL) and newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus, who reported a daily intake of 15 L of fruit juice over several weeks before presentation. The patient was referred to our emergency department with blood glucose of 527 mg/dL and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) of 17.3%. Interestingly, features of diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state were absent. The patient was overweight with an otherwise unremarkable physical exam. Lipase levels, liver function tests and inflammatory markers were closely monitored and remained unremarkable. The initial therapeutic approach included i.v. volume resuscitation, insulin and heparin. Additionally, plasmapheresis was performed to prevent potentially fatal complications of hypertriglyceridemia. The patient was counseled on balanced nutrition and detrimental effects of fruit beverages. He was discharged home 6 days after admission. At a 2-week follow-up visit, his triglyceride level was 419 mg/dL, total cholesterol was 221 mg/dL and HbA1c was 12.7%. The present case highlights the role of fructose overconsumption as a contributory factor for severe hypertriglyceridemia in a patient with newly diagnosed diabetes. We discuss metabolic effects of uncontrolled fructose ingestion, as well as the interplay of primary and secondary factors, in the pathogenesis of hypertriglyceridemia accompanied by diabetes.

Learning points

  • Excessive dietary fructose intake can exacerbate hypertriglyceridemia in patients with underlying type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and absence of diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state.

  • When consumed in large amounts, fructose is considered a highly lipogenic nutrient linked with postprandial hypertriglyceridemia and de novo hepatic lipogenesis (DNL).

  • Severe lipemia (triglyceride plasma level > 9000 mg/dL) could be asymptomatic and not necessarily complicated by acute pancreatitis, although lipase levels should be closely monitored.

  • Plasmapheresis is an effective adjunct treatment option for rapid lowering of high serum lipids, which is paramount to prevent acute complications of severe hypertriglyceridemia.

Open access

Andrea del Toro-Diez, Ernesto Solá-Sánchez, and Michelle Mangual-García

Summary

Primary hypothyroidism is one of the most common endocrine disorders with widely available treatment. A minority of patients remain with uncontrolled hypothyroidism despite therapy. The objective of this case series was to demonstrate that medication non-adherence, rather than malabsorption, should be sought as the most common cause of unsuppressed TSH levels in patients receiving treatment for this condition. Non-adherence is often considered as a diagnosis of exclusion. Nonetheless, a diagnosis of malabsorption requires a more extensive workup, including imaging and invasive procedures, which increase healthcare costs and burden to the patient. The findings of this study allow for a cost-effective approach to uncontrolled hypothyroidism.

Learning points

  • Medication non-adherence is a common cause of insuppressible TSH levels.

  • Once weekly levothyroxine is an alternative approach to non-compliant patients.

  • Assessing compliance is more cost-effective and less burdensome than testing for malabsorption.

Open access

P A D M Kumarathunga, N S Kalupahana, and C N Antonypillai

Summary

Whey protein is a popular dietary supplement that is claimed to provide multiple health benefits. It has been shown to delay gastric emptying and impair ileal nutrient absorption. Additionally, some of the other additives like papain enzyme, soy lecithin in these protein supplements could interfere with L-thyroxine absorption. There is no evidence in the literature for the effects of protein supplements on L-thyroxine absorption. Herein, we describe a case of a 34-year-old lady who was on endocrinology follow up for primary hypothyroidism with stable thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels within the normal range while on L-thyroxine with a dose of 125 µg daily for the last 3 years, presenting with mild hypothyroid symptoms and elevated TSH level following a recent introduction of a protein supplement by her physical care adviser. Her treatment adherence and ingestion technique were good throughout, she was not on other medications or herbal remedies, there were no other changes in her food pattern or features suggestive of malabsorption, she was not pregnant, was taking the same L-thyroxine brand and TSH test was done from the routine lab. Since the only factor which could have contributed to the deranged TSH levels was the recent introduction of the whey protein supplement, we advised her to stop the protein supplement while continuing the same dose of L-thyroxine. Her TSH level was repeated in 6 weeks and was found to be normal (1.7 mIU/L). Our case report demonstrates that over-the-counter protein supplements could interfere with L-thyroxine absorption. Therefore, patients on L-thyroxine should be cautious when taking them.

Learning points

  • Over-the-counter protein supplements could interfere with oral L-thyroxine absorption.

  • The underlying mechanism could be the effect of whey protein by delaying gastric emptying and reduced responsiveness of organic anion transporters in the ileum, and there may be a contribution from other additives like papain and soy lecithin present in these supplements.

  • When there is an elevation of previously stable thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) value in a hypothyroid patient on oral L-thyroxine, the patient's assessment should include inquiring for a recent introduction of protein supplement, in the absence of other well-known risk factors.

  • Discontinuation of protein supplement results in normalization of thyroid function tests.

  • Patients on oral L-thyroxine should be cautious when taking over-the-counter protein supplementation.

Open access

Kara Alex-Ann Beliard, Srinidhi Shyamkumar, Preneet Cheema Brar, and Robert Rapaport

Summary

We describe a case of an infant who presented with clinical features of hyperthyroidism. The child was found to be tachycardic, hypertensive and diaphoretic, she was noted to have poor weight gain and difficulty in sleeping. The child was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit for care. She was found to have biochemical evidence of hyperthyroidism with positive thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin. She responded well to methimazole and propranolol and had a remarkable recovery. She is the youngest patient to be diagnosed with Graves disease in the English literature, at 12 months of life.

Learning points

  • Hyperthyroidism must always be considered even at very young age, for patient presenting with poor weight gain and hyperdynamic state.

  • Autoimmune diseases are becoming more common in infancy.

  • Craniosynostosis and increased height for age are well-documented consequences of untreated hyperthyroidism in developing children.

Open access

Le Tuan Linh, Nguyen Minh Duc, Hoang Tu Minh, Nguyen Ngoc Cuong, Vuong Thu Ha, Dao-Thi Luan, Thieu-Thi Tra My, and Bui Van Lenh

Summary

Primary hepatic neuroendocrine tumor (PHNET) is a rare type of neuroendocrine tumor (NET) that is also a primary hepatic tumor. Patients are present with almost no specific clinical symptoms and typically present with negative test results and atypical imaging characteristics; therefore, the differentiation of PHNET from other types of primary hepatic masses can be very difficult. In this article, we describe a case of PHNET that mimicked a liver helminth infection in a 57-year-old man. The diagnosis of PHNET in this patient was challenging, and the final diagnosis was based on imaging, histopathology features, and long-term follow-up.

Learning points

  • An uncommon type of neuroendocrine tumor (NET) is a primary hepatic neuroendocrine tumor (PHNET).

  • Primary hepatic neuroendocrine tumors are rare NET lesions found in the liver, characterized by non-specific clinical and imaging results, which can be easily confused with other liver lesions, including HCC and parasitic lesions.

  • To have a conclusive diagnosis and classification, a mixture of many medical assessment techniques, such as imaging, gastrointestinal endoscopy, nuclear medicine, anatomy, including histopathology, and immunohistochemistry, is essential.

Open access

David Joseph Tansey, Jim John Egan, Michelle Murray, Katie Padfield, John Conneely, and Mensud Hatunic

Summary

Phaeochromocytoma is a rare catecholamine-producing tumour. We present the case of phaeochromocytoma in a young man with a background history of a double-lung transplant for cystic fibrosis (CF). Clinical case: A 25-year-old man, with a background history of CF, CF-related diabetes (CFRD) and a double-lung transplant in 2012 was presented to the emergency department with crampy abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. He was diagnosed with distal intestinal obstructions syndrome (DIOS). Contrast-enhanced CT imaging of the abdomen and pelvis showed a 3.4 cm right adrenal lesion. This was confirmed by a subsequent MRI of adrenal glands that demonstrated moderate FDG uptake, suggestive of a diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma. The patient was noted to be hypertensive with a blood pressure averaging 170/90 mm/Hg despite treatment with three different anti-hypertensive medications – amlodipine, telmisartan and doxazosin. He had hypertension for the last 3 years and had noted increasingly frequent sweating episodes recently, without palpitations or headache. Laboratory analysis showed elevated plasma normetanephrines (NMN) of 3167 pmol/L (182–867) as well as elevated metanephrines (MN) of 793 pmol/L (61–377) and a high 3-MT of 257 pmol/L (<185). Once cathecholamine excess was identified biochemically, we proceeded to functional imaging to further investigate. MIBG scan showed a mild increase in the uptake of tracer to the right adrenal gland compared to the left. The case was discussed at a multidisciplinary (MDT) meeting at which the diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma was made. Following a challenging period of 4 weeks to control the patient’s blood pressure with an alpha-blocker and beta-blocker, the patient had an elective right adrenalectomy, with normalisation of his blood pressure post-surgery. The histopathology of the excised adrenal gland was consistent with a 3 cm phaeochromocytoma with no adverse features associated with malignant potential.

Learning points

  • Five to ten per cent of patients have a secondary cause for hypertension. Phaeochromocytomas are rare tumours, originating in chromaffin cells and they represent 0.1–1.0% of all secondary hypertension cases.

  • Secondary causes should be investigated in cases where:

  • Patient is presenting <20 years of age or >50 years of age,

  • There is refractory hypertension, or

  • There is serious end-organ damage present.

  • Patients may present with the triad of headache, sweating and palpitations or more vague, non-specific symptoms.

  • Patients with suspected phaeochromocytoma should have 24-h urinary catecholamines measured and if available, plasma metanephrines measured. Those with abnormal biochemical tests should be further investigated with imaging to locate the tumour.

  • Medical treatment involves alpha- and beta-blockade for at least 2 to 3 weeks before surgery as well as rehydration.

  • There is a possibility of relapse so high-risk patients require life-long follow-up.

Open access

Marina Yukina, Nurana Nuralieva, Ekaterina Sorkina, Ekaterina Troshina, Anatoly Tiulpakov, Zhanna Belaya, and Galina Melnichenko

Summary

Lamin A/C (LMNA) gene mutations cause a heterogeneous group of progeroid disorders, including Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome, mandibuloacral dysplasia, atypical progeroid syndrome (APS) and generalized lipodystrophy-associated progeroid syndrome (GLPS). All of those syndromes are associated with some progeroid features, lipodystrophy and metabolic complications but vary differently depending on a particular mutation and even patients carrying the same gene variant are known to have clinical heterogeneity. We report a new 30-year-old female patient from Russia with an APS and generalized lipodystrophy (GL) due to the heterozygous de novo LMNA p.E262K mutation and compare her clinical and metabolic features to those of other described patients with APS. Despite many health issues, short stature, skeletal problems, GL and late diagnosis of APS, our patient seems to be relatively metabolically healthy for her age when compared to previously described patients with APS.

Learning points

  • Atypical progeroid syndromes (APS) are rare and heterogenic with different age of onset and degree of metabolic disorders, which makes this diagnosis very challenging for clinicians and may be missed until the adulthood.

  • The clinical picture of the APS depends on a particular mutation in the LMNA gene, but may vary even between the patients with the same mutation.

  • The APS due to a heterozygous LMNA p.E262K mutation, which we report in this patient, seems to have association with the generalized lipodystrophy, short stature and osteoporosis, but otherwise, it seems to cause relatively mild metabolic complications by the age of 30.

  • The patients with APS and lipodystrophy syndromes require a personalized and multidisciplinary approach, and so they should be referred to highly specialized reference-centres for diagnostics and treatment as early as possible.

  • Because of the high heterogeneity of such a rare disease as APS, every patient’s description is noteworthy for a better understanding of this challenging syndrome, including the analysis of genotype-phenotype correlations.

Open access

Kieran Palmer, Scott Weerasuriya, Benjamin Whitelaw, and Rajaventhan Srirajaskanthan

Summary

We report a rare case of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES), precipitated by ectopic Cushing’s syndrome, in a patient with a metastatic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour. A 55-year-old female presented as a hypertensive emergency with seizures and severe biochemical disturbance, including alkalosis, hypokalaemia and hyperglycaemia. MRI showed vasogenic oedema in the parieto-occipital region, consistent with a diagnosis of PRES. She had a significantly raised serum cortisol (>6000 nmol/L) which did not suppress with dexamethasone. Plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) concentrations were neither suppressed nor raised but were consistently within the normal reference range. The unexpected finding of a normal ACTH may be explained by either tumour secretion of unmeasured ACTH-related peptides, immunoassay antibody interference or episodic ACTH secretion. PRES is usually reversible with prompt and appropriate treatment. Hypercortisolism associated PRES is rare and may be associated with a worse outcome.

Learning points

  • PRES secondary to ectopic Cushing’s syndrome is very rare.

  • PRES in this context may indicate a worse prognosis.

  • In ectopic Cushing’s syndrome, if the serum ACTH level is normal, consider testing for ACTH-related peptides or interfering antibodies.

  • Further research is required to establish the best treatment approach and to improve patients’ outcomes.

Open access

Rajiv Singh and Cynthia Mohandas

Summary

A phaeochromocytoma is a rare neuroendocrine tumour derived from the chromaffin cells of the adrenal medulla. Tumours can produce excessive amounts of catecholamines. The presenting symptoms can vary but often include the classic triad of episodic headaches, sweating and palpitations. Due to catecholamine excess, patients can develop cardiomyopathy. Bradycardia and collapse could be the result of sinus node dysfunction or transient dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system. Patients with co-existing diabetes can have improvement or resolution of their diabetes after successful adrenalectomy. We report a case of an 87-year-old lady who initially presented with sweating, palpitations and collapse, resulting in a permanent pacemaker insertion. She was later found to have a large adrenal incidentaloma with subsequent markedly elevated plasma metanephrine levels. She later presented with chest pain and in acute pulmonary oedema with normal coronary arteries visualised on coronary angiogram. After surgical excision of her phaeochromocytoma, her diabetes resolved with her HbA1c improving from 68 to 46 mmol/mol, with no further requirement for diabetic medications. Her pulmonary oedema improved with no ongoing need for diuretic therapy. This case highlights that phaeochromocytomas can affect multiple systems and there should be a very high index of suspicion in patients presenting with sweating, palpitations, hypertension and a history of diabetes and even in those with collapse.

Learning points

  • There should be a high index of suspicion for phaeochromocytomas in patients with palpitations, diaphoresis, anxiety, hypertension and diabetes.

  • Rarely phaeochromocytomas can present as bradycardia and collapse due to sinus node dysfunction or transient autonomic dysregulation and that should be considered in older patients.

  • Catecholamine cardiomyopathy can occur in phaeochromocytoma with potential resolution after successful surgical excision.

  • Diabetes can resolve after successful surgical treatment of a phaeochromocytoma.

Open access

Carolina Chaves, Mariana Chaves, João Anselmo, and Rui César

Summary

Berardinelli–Seip congenital lipodystrophy (BSCL) is a rare autosomal recessive disease, characterized by the absence of subcutaneous adipose tissue, leptin deficiency and severe metabolic complications, such as insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia. The most common mutation occurs in BCSL2 which encodes seipin, a protein involved in adipogenesis. We report a patient with BSCL who was diagnosed with diabetes at 11 years old. He was started on metformin 1000 mg twice daily, which lowered glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) to less than 7%. Four months later, HbA1c raised above 7.5%, indicating secondary failure to metformin. Therefore, we added the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARG) agonist, pioglitazone. Since then and for the last 5 years his HbA1c has been within the normal range. These findings indicate that pioglitazone should be considered as a valid alternative in the treatment of diabetes in BSCL patients. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first specific report of successful long-term treatment with pioglitazone in a patient with BSCL.

Learning points

  • Berardinelli–Seip congenital lipodystrophy (BSCL) is a recessive genetic disorder associated with severe insulin resistance and early onset diabetes, usually around puberty. Failure of oral antidiabetic medication occurs within the first years of treatment in BSCL patients.

  • When failure to achieve metabolic control with metformin occurs, pioglitazone may be a safe option, lowering insulin resistance and improving both the metabolic control and lipodystrophic phenotype.

  • Herein we show that pioglitazone can be a safe and efficient alternative in the long-term treatment of BSCL patients with diabetes.