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Open access

Thien Vinh Luong, Lars Rejnmark, Anne Kirstine Arveschoug, Peter Iversen and Lars Rolighed

Multiple endocrine neoplasia 1 (MEN1) is a rare genetic syndrome characterized by the manifestation of tumors in endocrine glands most often in the parathyroid gland (PG). Treatment may involve several parathyroidectomies (PTX), especially in young patients, which increases the risk of postoperative complications. We present a 16-year-old patient with a family history of MEN1 syndrome. The patient started to show biochemical signs of hyperparathyroidism (HPT) and hypercalcemia at the age of 10. One and a half years later a PTX was successfully performed with removal of the two left PGs. However, a rise in plasma parathyroid hormone and ionized calcium was observed 4 years later. Preoperative noninvasive imaging with 99mTc-sestamibi scintigraphy showed no definitive parathyroid adenoma. A 11C-methionine position emission tomography combined with MRI (MET-PET/MRI) was then performed and detected a focus posterior to the lower part of the right thyroid lobe. Intraoperative angiography with fluorescence and indocyanine green dye was used to assess the vascularization of the remaining PGs. The lower right PG was removed. The patient was discharged with normalized biochemical values and without postoperative complications. Recurrence of primary HPT is frequent in MEN1 patients which often necessitates repeated operations. Our case report showed that the use of advanced noninvasive preoperative imaging techniques and intraoperative fluorescent imaging are valuable tools and should be taken into consideration in selected cases to avoid postoperative complications. To our knowledge, this is the first case where MET-PET/MRI has been used to detect parathyroid pathology.

Learning points:

  • MEN1 patients will develop parathyroid disease, which eventually will lead to surgical treatment with removal of the pathological glands.
  • Preoperatively usage of MRI combined with PET tracers such as 11C-methionine and 18F-Fluorocholine are able to detect parathyroid pathology with a higher sensitivity than conventional imaging.
  • Techniques using intraoperatively angiography with fluorescence and florescent dyes allow surgeons to verify the vascularization of each parathyroid gland.
  • Optimization of noninvasive preoperative imaging techniques and intraoperative fluorescent imaging are valuable tools and should be taken into consideration when performing PTX consecutively in the same patient to avoid postoperative complications.
Open access

Jane J Tellam, Ghusoon Abdulrasool and Louise C H Ciin

Summary

Distinguishing primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) from familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FHH) can be challenging. Currently, 24-h urinary calcium is used to differentiate between the two conditions in vitamin D replete patients, with urinary calcium creatinine clearance ratio (UCCR) <0.01 suggestive of FHH and >0.02 supportive of PHPT. A 26-year-old Caucasian gentleman presented with recurrent mild hypercalcaemia and inappropriately normal parathyroid hormone (PTH) following previous parathyroidectomy 3 years prior. He had symptoms of fatigue and light-headedness. He did not have any other symptoms of hypercalcaemia. His previous evaluation appeared to be consistent with PHPT as evidenced by hypercalcaemia with inappropriately normal PTH and UCCR of 0.0118 (borderline low using guidelines of >0.01 consistent with PHPT). He underwent parathyroidectomy and three parathyroid glands were removed. His calcium briefly normalised after surgery, but rose again to pre-surgery levels within 3 months. Subsequently, he presented to our centre and repeated investigations showed 24-h urinary calcium of 4.6 mmol/day and UCCR of 0.0081 which prompted assessment for FHH. His calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) gene was sequenced and a rare inactivating variant was detected. This variant was described once previously in the literature. His mother was also confirmed to have mild hypercalcaemia with hypocalciuria and, on further enquiry, had the same CASR variant. The CASR variant was classified as likely pathogenic and is consistent with the diagnosis of FHH. This case highlights the challenges in differentiating FHH from PHPT. Accurate diagnosis is vital to prevent unnecessary surgical intervention in the FHH population and is not always straightforward.

Learning points:

  • Distinguishing FHH from PHPT with co-existing vitamin D deficiency is difficult as this can mimic FHH. Therefore, ensure patients are vitamin D replete prior to performing 24-h urinary calcium collection.
  • Individuals with borderline UCCR could have either FHH or PHPT. Consider performing CASR gene sequencing for UCCR between 0.01 and 0.02.
  • Parathyroid imaging is not required for making the diagnosis of PHPT. It is performed when surgery is considered after confirming the diagnosis of PHPT.
Open access

Rachel Wurth, Crystal Kamilaris, Naris Nilubol, Samira M Sadowski, Annabel Berthon, Martha M Quezado, Fabio R Faucz, Constantine A Stratakis and Fady Hannah-Shmouni

Summary

Primary bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia (PBMAH) is a rare cause of ACTH-independent Cushing syndrome (CS). This condition is characterized by glucocorticoid and/or mineralocorticoid excess, and is commonly regulated by aberrant G-protein coupled receptor expression may be subclinical, allowing the disease to progress for years undetected. Inhibin A is a glycoprotein hormone and tumor marker produced by certain endocrine glands including the adrenal cortex, which has not been previously investigated as a potential tumor marker for PBMAH. In the present report, serum inhibin A levels were evaluated in three patients with PBMAH before and after adrenalectomy. In all cases, serum inhibin A was elevated preoperatively and subsequently fell within the normal range after adrenalectomy. Additionally, adrenal tissues stained positive for inhibin A. We conclude that serum inhibin A levels may be a potential tumor marker for PBMAH.

Learning points:

  • PBMAH is a rare cause of CS.
  • PBMAH may have an insidious presentation, allowing the disease to progress for years prior to diagnosis.
  • Inhibin A is a heterodimeric glycoprotein hormone expressed in the gonads and adrenal cortex.
  • Inhibin A serum concentrations are elevated in some patients with PBMAH, suggesting the potential use of this hormone as a tumor marker.
  • Further exploration of serum inhibin A concentration, as it relates to PBMAH disease progression, is warranted to determine if this hormone could serve as an early detection marker and/or predictor of successful surgical treatment.
Open access

Taieb Ach, Perrine Wojewoda, Flora Toullet, Roxane Ducloux and Véronique Avérous

Summary

Multiple endocrine metastases are a rare but possible complication of lung adenocarcinoma (LAC). Pituitary metastasis is a rare condition with poor clinical expression. Diabetes insipidus (DI) is its most common presenting symptom. Here we report an original case of a pituitary stalk (PS) metastasis from LAC presenting as central DI followed by adrenal insufficiency (AI) from bilateral adrenal metastasis, without known evidence of the primary malignancy. A 45-year-old woman whose first clinical manifestations were polyuria and polydipsia was admitted. She was completely asymptomatic with no cough, no weight loss or anorexia. Chest radiography was normal. Brain MRI showed a thick pituitary stalk (PS). DI was confirmed by water restriction test and treated with vasopressin with great clinical results. Explorations for systemic and infectious disease were negative. Few months later, an acute AI led to discovering bilateral adrenal mass on abdominal CT. A suspicious 2.3 cm apical lung nodule was found later. Histopathological adrenal biopsy revealed an LAC. The patient received systemic chemotherapy with hormonal replacement for endocrinological failures by both vasopressin and hydrocortisone. We present this rare case of metastatic PS thickness arising from LAC associated with bilateral adrenal metastasis. Screening of patients with DI and stalk thickness for lung and breast cancer must be considered. Multiple endocrine failures as a diagnostic motive of LAC is a rare but possible circumstance.

Learning points:

  • Adrenal metastasis is a common location in lung adenocarcinoma; however, metastatic involvement of the pituitary stalk remains a rare occurrence, especially as a leading presentation to diagnose lung cancer.
  • The posterior pituitary and the infundibulum are the preferential sites for metastases, as they receive direct arterial blood supply from hypophyseal arteries.
  • Patients diagnosed with diabetes insipidus due to pituitary stalk thickness should be considered as a metastasis, after exclusion of the classical systemic and infectious diseases.
  • The diagnosis of an endocrinological metastatic primary lung adenocarcinoma for patients without respiratory symptoms is often delayed due to a lack of correlation between endocrinological symptoms and lung cancer.
  • The main originality of our case is the concomitant diagnosis of both endocrinological failures, as it was initiated with a diabetes insipidus and followed by an acute adrenal insufficiency.
Open access

Satyanarayana V Sagi, Hareesh Joshi, Emily Whiles, Mondy Hikmat, Vijith R Puthi, Jane MacDougall, Sarah L Spiden, Gavin Fuller, Soo-Mi Park and Samson O Oyibo

Summary

Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is characterised by insufficient secretion of pituitary gonadotropins resulting in delayed puberty, anovulation and azoospermia. When hypogonadotropic hypogonadism occurs in the absence of structural or functional lesions of the hypothalamic or pituitary gland, the hypogonadism is defined as idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (IHH). This is a rare genetic disorder caused by a defect in the secretion of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GNRH) by the hypothalamus or a defect in the action of GNRH on the pituitary gland. Up to 50% of IHH cases have identifiable pathogenic variants in the currently known genes. Pathogenic variants in the GNRHR gene encoding the GNRH receptor are a relatively common cause of normosmic IHH, but reports of pathogenic variants in GNRH1 encoding GNRH are exceedingly rare. We present a case of two siblings born to consanguineous parents who were found to have normosmic idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism due to homozygosity of a novel loss-of function variant in GNRH1. Case 1 is a male who presented at the age of 17 years with delayed puberty and under-virilised genitalia. Case 2 is a female who presented at the age of 16 years with delayed puberty and primary amenorrhea.

Learning points:

  • IHH is a genetically heterogeneous disorder which can be caused by pathogenic variants affecting proteins involved in the pulsatile gonadotropin-releasing hormone release, action, or both.
  • Currently known genetic defects account for up to 50% of all IHH cases.
  • GNRH1 pathogenic variants are a rare cause of normosmic IHH.
  • IHH is associated with a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations.
  • IHH can be challenging to diagnose, particularly when attempting to differentiate it from constitutional delay of puberty.
  • Early diagnosis and gonadotrophin therapy can prevent negative physical sequelae and mitigate psychological distress with the restoration of puberty and fertility in affected individuals.
Open access

Serena Khoo, Greta Lyons, Andrew Solomon, Susan Oddy, David Halsall, Krishna Chatterjee and Carla Moran

Summary

Familial dysalbuminemic hyperthyroxinemia (FDH) is a cause of discordant thyroid function tests (TFTs), due to interference in free T4 assays, caused by the mutant albumin. The coexistence of thyroid disease and FDH can further complicate diagnosis and potentially result in inappropriate management. We describe a case of both Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease occurring on a background of FDH. A 42-year-old lady with longstanding autoimmune hypothyroidism was treated with thyroxine but in varying dosage, because TFTs, showing high Free T4 (FT4) and normal TSH levels, were discordant. Discontinuation of thyroxine led to marked TSH rise but with normal FT4 levels. She then developed Graves’ disease and thyroid ophthalmopathy, with markedly elevated FT4 (62.7 pmol/L), suppressed TSH (<0.03 mU/L) and positive anti-TSH receptor antibody levels. However, propylthiouracil treatment even in low dosage (100 mg daily) resulted in profound hypothyroidism (TSH: 138 mU/L; FT4: 4.8 pmol/L), prompting its discontinuation and recommencement of thyroxine. The presence of discordant thyroid hormone measurements from two different methods suggested analytical interference. Elevated circulating total T4 (TT4), (227 nmol/L; NR: 69–141) but normal thyroxine binding globulin (TBG) (19.2 µg/mL; NR: 14.0–31.0) levels, together with increased binding of patient’s serum to radiolabelled T4, suggested FDH, and ALB sequencing confirmed a causal albumin variant (R218H). This case highlights difficulty ascertaining true thyroid status in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease and coexisting FDH. Early recognition of FDH as a cause for discordant TFTs may improve patient management.

Learning points:

  • The typical biochemical features of familial dysalbuminemic hyperthyroxinemia (FDH) are (genuinely) raised total and (spuriously) raised free T4 concentrations due to enhanced binding of the mutant albumin to thyroid hormones, with normal TBG and TSH concentrations.
  • Given the high prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease, it is not surprising that assay interference from coexisting FDH may lead to discordant thyroid function tests confounding diagnosis and resulting in inappropriate therapy.
  • Discrepant thyroid hormone measurements using two different immunoassay methods should alert to the possibility of laboratory analytical interference. The diagnosis of FDH is suspected if there is a similar abnormal familial pattern of TFTs and increased binding of radiolabelled 125I-T4 to the patient’s serum, and can be confirmed by ALB gene sequencing.
  • When autoimmune thyroid disease coexists with FDH, TSH levels are the most reliable biochemical marker of thyroid status. Measurement of FT4 using equilibrium dialysis or ultrafiltration are more reliable but less readily available.
Open access

Janani Devaraja, Charlotte Elder and Adrian Scott

Summary

This case report describes a family pedigree of a mother and her children with an E227K mutation in the KCNJ11 gene. People with this particular gene mutation typically present with transient neonatal diabetes; with more than half the cohort relapsing into permanent diabetes in adolescence or early adulthood. However, the mother developed diabetes as an adolescent and thus was initially diagnosed as having Type 1 Diabetes. All her children have inherited the same genetic mutation but with differing presentations. Her second, third and fourth child presented with transient neonatal diabetes which remitted at varying times. Her first child is 16 years old but had not developed diabetes at the time of writing. The KCNJ11 gene codes for the KIR6.2 subunit of the KATP channels of the pancreatic beta cells. Mutations in this gene limit insulin release from beta cells despite high blood glucose concentrations. Most people with diabetes caused by this genetic mutation can be successfully managed with glibenclamide. Learning of the genetic mutation changed the therapeutic approach to the mother’s diabetes and enabled rapid diagnosis for her children. Through this family, we identified that an identical genetic mutation does not necessarily lead to the same diabetic phenotype. We recommend clinicians to consider screening for this gene in their patients whom MODY is suspected; especially in those presenting before the age of 25 who remain C-peptide positive.

Learning points:

  • KATP channel closure in pancreatic beta cells is a critical step in stimulating insulin release. Mutations in the KIR6.2 subunit can result in the KATP channels remaining open, limiting insulin release.
  • People with KCNJ11 mutations may not present with neonatal diabetes as the age of presentation of diabetes can be highly variable.
  • Most affected individuals can be treated successfully with glibenclamide, which closes the KATP channels via an independent mechanism.
  • All first degree relatives of the index case should be offered genetic testing, including asymptomatic individuals. Offspring of affected individuals should be monitored for neonatal diabetes from birth.
  • Affected individuals will require long-term follow-up as there is a high risk of recurrence in later life.
Open access

Impana Shetty, Sarah Fuller, Margarita Raygada, Maria J Merino, B J Thomas, Brigitte C Widemann, Karlyne M Reilly, Karel Pacak and Jaydira Del Rivero

Summary

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is an aggressive cancer that originates in the cortex of the adrenal gland and generally has a poor prognosis. ACC is rare but can be more commonly seen in those with cancer predisposition syndromes (e.g. Li-Fraumeni and Lynch Syndrome). The diagnosis of ACC is sometimes uncertain and it requires the use of precise molecular pathology; the differential diagnosis includes pheochromocytoma, adrenal adenoma, renal carcinoma, or hepatocellular carcinoma. We describe a case of a 57-year-old woman with Lynch Syndrome and metastatic ACC who was initially diagnosed as having pheochromocytoma. The tumor was first identified at 51 years of age by ultrasound followed by a CT scan. She underwent a left adrenalectomy, and the histopathology identified pheochromocytoma. Two years later, she had tumor recurrence with imaging studies showing multiple lung nodules. Following a wedge resection by video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), histopathology was read as metastatic pheochromocytoma at one institution and metastatic ACC at another institution. She later presented to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where the diagnosis of ACC was confirmed. Following her ACC diagnosis, she was treated with mitotane and pembrolizumab which were stopped due to side effects and progression of disease. She is currently receiving etoposide, doxorubicin, and cisplatin (EDP). This case highlights the importance of using a multi-disciplinary approach in patient care. Thorough evaluation of the tumor’s pathology and analysis of the patient’s genetic profile are necessary to obtain the correct diagnosis for the patient and can significantly influence the course of treatment.

Learning points:

  • Making the diagnosis of ACC can be difficult as the differential diagnosis includes pheochromocytoma, adrenal adenoma, renal carcinoma, or hepatocellular carcinoma.
  • Patients with Lynch Syndrome should undergo surveillance for ACC as there is evidence of an association between Lynch Syndrome and ACC.
  • Conducting a complete tumor immunoprofile and obtaining a second opinion is very important in cases of suspected ACC in order to confirm the proper diagnosis.
  • A multi-disciplinary approach including genetic testing and a thorough evaluation of the tumor’s pathology is imperative to ensuring that the patient receives an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.
Open access

Nicholas J Theis, Toby Calvert, Peter McIntyre, Stephen P Robertson and Benjamin J Wheeler

Summary

Cantu syndrome, or hypertrichotic osteochondrodysplasia, is a rare, autosomal dominant genetically heterogeneous disorder. It is characterized by hypertrichosis, cardiac and skeletal anomalies and distinctive coarse facial features. We report a case where slowed growth velocity at 13 years led to identification of multiple pituitary hormone deficiencies. This adds to other reports of pituitary abnormalities in this condition and supports inclusion of endocrine monitoring in the clinical surveillance of patients with Cantu syndrome.

Learning points:

  • Cantu syndrome is a rare genetic disorder caused by pathogenic variants in the ABCC9 and KCNJ8 genes, which result in gain of function of the SUR2 or Kir6.1 subunits of widely expressed KATP channels.
  • The main manifestations of the syndrome are varied, but most commonly include hypertrichosis, macrosomia, macrocephaly, coarse ‘acromegaloid’ facies, and a range of cardiac defects.
  • Anterior pituitary dysfunction may be implicated in this disorder, and we propose that routine screening should be included in the clinical and biochemical surveillance of patients with Cantu syndrome.
Open access

Sarah W Y Poon, Karen K Y Leung and Joanna Y L Tung

Summary

Severe hypertriglyceridemia is an endocrine emergency and is associated with acute pancreatitis and hyperviscosity syndrome. We describe an infant with lipoprotein lipase deficiency with severe hypertriglyceridemia who presented with acute pancreatitis. She was managed acutely with fasting and intravenous insulin infusion, followed by low-fat diet with no pharmacological agent. Subsequent follow-up until the age of 5 years showed satisfactory lipid profile and she has normal growth and development.

Learning points:

  • Hypertriglyceridemia-induced acute pancreatitis has significant morbidity and mortality, and prompt treatment is imperative.
  • When no secondary causes are readily identified, genetic evaluation should be pursued in hypertriglyceridemia in children.
  • Intravenous insulin is a safe and effective acute treatment for hypertriglyceridemia in children, even in infants.
  • Long-term management with dietary modifications alone could be effective for primary hypertriglyceridemia due to lipoprotein lipase deficiency, at least in early childhood phase.