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Open access

Agnieszka Łebkowska, Anna Krentowska, Agnieszka Adamska, Danuta Lipińska, Beata Piasecka, Otylia Kowal-Bielecka, Maria Górska, Robert K Semple and Irina Kowalska

Summary

Type B insulin resistance syndrome (TBIR) is characterised by the rapid onset of severe insulin resistance due to circulating anti-insulin receptor antibodies (AIRAs). Widespread acanthosis nigricans is normally seen, and co-occurrence with other autoimmune diseases is common. We report a 27-year-old Caucasian man with psoriasis and connective tissue disease who presented with unexplained rapid weight loss, severe acanthosis nigricans, and hyperglycaemia punctuated by fasting hypoglycaemia. Severe insulin resistance was confirmed by hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic clamping, and immunoprecipitation assay demonstrated AIRAs, confirming TBIR. Treatment with corticosteroids, metformin and hydroxychloroquine allowed withdrawal of insulin therapy, with stabilisation of glycaemia and diminished signs of insulin resistance; however, morning fasting hypoglycaemic episodes persisted. Over three years of follow-up, metabolic control remained satisfactory on a regimen of metformin, hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate; however, psoriatic arthritis developed. This case illustrates TBIR as a rare but severe form of acquired insulin resistance and describes an effective multidisciplinary approach to treatment.

Learning points:

  • We describe an unusual case of type B insulin resistance syndrome (TBIR) in association with mixed connective tissue disease and psoriasis.
  • Clinical evidence of severe insulin resistance was corroborated by euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic clamp, and anti-insulin receptor autoantibodies were confirmed by immunoprecipitation assay.
  • Treatment with metformin, hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate ameliorated extreme insulin resistance.
Open access

Åke Sjöholm, Maria João Pereira, Thomas Nilsson, Torbjörn Linde, Petros Katsogiannos, Jan Saaf and Jan W Eriksson

Summary

Type B insulin resistance syndrome (TBIRS) is a very rare autoimmune disorder with polyclonal autoantibodies against the insulin receptor, resulting in severe and refractory hyperglycemia. Described here is a patient who within a few months after the onset of autoimmune type 1 diabetes increased her insulin requirements more than 20-fold; despite this she had considerable difficulty maintaining a plasma glucose value of <40–60 mmol/L (720–1100 mg/dL). On suspicion of TBIRS, the patient was started on tapering dose of glucocorticoids to overcome the autoimmune insulin receptor blockade, resulting in an immediate and pronounced effect. Within days, insulin requirements decreased by 80–90% and plasma glucose stabilized around 7–8 mmol/L (126–144 mg/dL). The presence of antibodies to the insulin receptor was detected by immunoprecipitation and binding assays. After a 4-month remission on low maintenance dose prednisolone, the patient relapsed, which required repeated plasmaphereses and immune column treatments with temporarily remarkable effect. Mixed and transient results were seen with rituximab, mycophenolic acid and bortezomib, but the glycemic status remained suboptimal. Lack of compliance and recurrent infections may have contributed to this.

Learning points:

  • Type B insulin resistance syndrome (TBIRS) is a very rare autoimmune disorder with acquired polyclonal autoantibodies against the insulin receptor, resulting in severe and refractory hyperglycemia.
  • We describe here a young patient in whom, a few months after the onset of a regular autoimmune diabetes, insulin requirements in a short time increased more than 20-fold, but despite this, the plasma glucose level could be kept at <40–60 mmol/L only with considerable difficulty. Did this patient have TBIRS?
  • On suspicion of TBIRS, the patient was started on tapering glucocorticoids to overcome the autoimmune insulin receptor blockade, resulting in an immediate and pronounced effect; within days insulin requirements decreased by 80–90% and plasma glucose stabilized around 7–8 mmol/L.
  • The presence of antibodies to the insulin receptor was detected by immunoprecipitation and binding assays.After a 4-month remission on low maintenance dose prednisolone, the patient relapsed, which required repeated plasmaphereses with temporarily remarkable effect.
  • TBIRS should be considered in diabetic patients whose glycemia and/or insulin requirements are inexplicably and dramatically increased.
Open access

Frank Gao, Stephen Hall and Leon A Bach

Summary

Sodium/glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are novel oral hypoglycaemic agents that are increasingly used in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). They are now recommended as second-line pharmacotherapy (in conjunction with metformin) in patients with type 2 diabetes and established atherosclerotic heart disease, heart failure or chronic kidney disease due to their favourable effects on cardiovascular and renal outcomes. We report a case of a 69-year-old man who developed muscle pain, weakness and wasting after commencing the SGLT2 inhibitor empagliflozin. This persisted for 1 year before he underwent resistance testing, which confirmed muscle weakness. His symptoms resolved within weeks of ceasing empagliflozin, with improvement in muscle strength on clinical assessment and resistance testing and reversal of MRI changes. No other cause of myopathy was identified clinically, on biochemical assessment or imaging, suggesting that empagliflozin was the cause of his myopathy.

Learning points:

  • Empagliflozin, a commonly used SGLT2 inhibitor, was associated with myopathy.
  • A high degree of suspicion is required to diagnose drug-induced myopathy, with a temporal relationship between starting the medication and symptom onset being the main indicator.
  • Recognition of drug-induced myopathy is essential, as discontinuation of the offending drug typically improves symptoms.
Open access

Albert S Kim, Rashida Hakeem, Azaliya Abdullah, Amanda J Hooper, Michel C Tchan, Thushari I Alahakoon and Christian M Girgis

Summary

A 19-year-old female presented at 25-weeks gestation with pancreatitis. She was found to have significant hypertriglyceridaemia in context of an unconfirmed history of familial hypertriglyceridaemia. This was initially managed with fasting and insulin infusion and she was commenced on conventional interventions to lower triglycerides, including a fat-restricted diet, heparin, marine oil and gemfibrozil. Despite these measures, the triglyceride levels continued to increase as she progressed through the pregnancy, and it was postulated that she had an underlying lipoprotein lipase defect. Therefore, a multidisciplinary decision was made to commence therapeutic plasma exchange to prevent further episodes of pancreatitis. She underwent a total of 13 sessions of plasma exchange, and labour was induced at 37-weeks gestation in which a healthy female infant was delivered. There was a rapid and significant reduction in triglycerides in the 48 h post-delivery. Subsequent genetic testing of hypertriglyceridaemia genes revealed a missense mutation of the LPL gene. Fenofibrate and rosuvastatin was commenced to manage her hypertriglyceridaemia postpartum and the importance of preconception counselling for future pregnancies was discussed. Hormonal changes in pregnancy lead to an overall increase in plasma lipids to ensure adequate nutrient delivery to the fetus. These physiological changes become problematic, where a genetic abnormality in lipid metabolism exists and severe complications such as pancreatitis can arise. Available therapies for gestational hypertriglyceridaemia rely on augmentation of LPL activity. Where there is an underlying LPL defect, these therapies are ineffective and removal of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins via plasma exchange should be considered.

Learning points:

  • Hormonal changes in pregnancy, mediated by progesterone,oestrogen and human placental lactogen, lead to a two- to three-fold increase in serum triglyceride levels.
  • Pharmacological intervention for management of gestational hypertriglyceridaemia rely on the augmentation of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity to enhance catabolism of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins.
  • Genetic mutations affecting the LPL gene can lead to severe hypertriglyceridaemia.
  • Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) is an effective intervention for the management of severe gestational hypertriglyceridaemia and should be considered in cases where there is an underlying LPL defect.
  • Preconception counselling and discussion regarding contraception is of paramount importance in women with familial hypertriglyceridaemia.
Open access

Kaja Grønning, Archana Sharma, Maria Adele Mastroianni, Bo Daniel Karlsson, Eystein S Husebye, Kristian Løvås and Ingrid Nermoen

Summary

Primary adrenal lymphoma (PAL) is a rare cause of adrenal insufficiency. More than 90% is of B-cell origin. The condition is bilateral in up to 75% of cases, with adrenal insufficiency in two of three patients. We report two cases of adrenal insufficiency presenting at the age of 70 and 79 years, respectively. Both patients had negative 21-hydroxylase antibodies with bilateral adrenal lesions on CT. Biopsy showed B-cell lymphoma. One of the patients experienced intermittent disease regression on replacement dosage of glucocorticoids.

Learning points:

  • Primary adrenal lymphoma (PAL) is a rare cause of adrenal insufficiency.
  • Bilateral adrenal masses of unknown origin or in individuals with suspected extra-adrenal malignancy should be biopsied quickly when pheochromocytoma is excluded biochemically.
  • Steroid treatment before biopsy may affect diagnosis.
  • Adrenal insufficiency with negative 21-hydroxylase antibodies should be evaluated radiologically.
Open access

N Siddique, R Durcan, S Smyth, T Kyaw Tun, S Sreenan and J H McDermott

Summary

We present three cases of acute diabetic neuropathy and highlight a potentially underappreciated link between tightening of glycaemic control and acute neuropathies in patients with diabetes. Case 1: A 56-year-old male with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes (T2DM) was commenced on basal-bolus insulin. He presented 6 weeks later with a diffuse painful sensory neuropathy and postural hypotension. He was diagnosed with treatment-induced neuropathy (TIN, insulin neuritis) and obtained symptomatic relief from pregabalin. Case 2: A 67-year-old male with T2DM and chronic hyperglycaemia presented with left lower limb pain, weakness and weight loss shortly after achieving target glycaemia with oral anti-hyperglycaemics. Neurological examination and neuro-electrophysiological studies suggested diabetic lumbosacral radiculo-plexus neuropathy (DLPRN, diabetic amyotrophy). Pain and weakness resolved over time. Case 3: A 58-year-old male was admitted with blurred vision diplopia and complete ptosis of the right eye, with intact pupillary reflexes, shortly after intensification of glucose-lowering treatment with an SGLT2 inhibitor as adjunct to metformin. He was diagnosed with a pupil-sparing third nerve palsy secondary to diabetic mononeuritis which improved over time. While all three acute neuropathies have been previously well described, all are rare and require a high index of clinical suspicion as they are essentially a diagnosis of exclusion. Interestingly, all three of our cases are linked by the development of acute neuropathy following a significant improvement in glycaemic control. This phenomenon is well described in TIN, but not previously highlighted in other acute neuropathies.

Learning points:

  • A link between acute tightening of glycaemic control and acute neuropathies has not been well described in literature.
  • Clinicians caring for patients with diabetes who develop otherwise unexplained neurologic symptoms following a tightening of glycaemic control should consider the possibility of an acute diabetic neuropathy.
  • Early recognition of these neuropathies can obviate the need for detailed and expensive investigations and allow for early institution of appropriate pain-relieving medications.
Open access

J K Witczak, N Ubaysekara, R Ravindran, S Rice, Z Yousef and L D Premawardhana

Summary

Graves’ disease is associated with tachydysrythmia, cardiac ischaemia and cardiomyopathy – all uncommon in young adults without previous cardiac disease. We present three young individuals who developed cardiac complications after periods of uncontrolled Graves’ disease. Subject 1: A 34-year-old female had severe thyrotoxic symptoms for weeks. Investigations showed fT4: 98.4 (11–25 pmol/L), fT3: 46.9 (3.1–6.8 pmol/L), TSH <0.01 (0.27–4.2 mU/L) and thyrotrophin receptor antibody (TRAb): 34.8 (<0.9 U//l). She had appropriate treatment but several weeks later she became breathless despite improving thyroid function. Echocardiography showed a pericardial effusion of 2.9 cm. She responded well to steroids and NSAIDs but developed active severe Graves’ orbitopathy after early total thyroidectomy. Subject 2: A 28-year-old male developed thyrotoxic symptoms (fT4: 38 pmol/L, fT3: 13.9 pmol/L, TSH <0.01 (for over 6 months) and TRAb: 9.3 U/L). One month after starting carbimazole, he developed acute heart failure (HF) due to severe dilated cardiomyopathy – EF 10–15%. He partially recovered after treatment – EF 28% and had early radioiodine treatment. Subject 3: A 42-year-old woman who had been thyrotoxic for several months (fT4: 54.3; fT3 >46.1; TSH <0.01; TRAb: 4.5) developed atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure. Echocardiography showed cardiomegaly – EF 29%. She maintains sinus rhythm following early total thyroidectomy (EF 50%). Significant cardiac complications may occur in previously fit young adults, who have had uncontrolled Graves’ disease for weeks to months. Cardiac function recovers in the majority, but early definitive treatment should be discussed to avoid Graves’ disease relapse and further cardiac decompensation.

Learning points:

  • Cardiac complications of Graves’ disease are uncommon in young adults without previous cardiac disease.
  • These complications may however occur if Graves’ disease had been poorly controlled for several weeks or months prior to presentation.
  • Persistent symptoms after adequate control should alert clinicians to the possibility of cardiac disease.
  • Specific treatment of Graves’ disease and appropriate cardiac intervention results in complete recovery in the majority and carries a good prognosis.
  • Early definitive treatment should be offered to them to prevent cardiac decompensation at times of further relapse.
Open access

Shivani Patel, Venessa Chin and Jerry R Greenfield

Summary

Durvalumab is a programmed cell death ligand 1 inhibitor, which is now approved in Australia for use in non-small-cell lung and urothelial cancers. Autoimmune diabetes is a rare immune-related adverse effect associated with the use of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. It is now being increasingly described reflecting the wider use of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. We report the case of a 49-year-old female who presented with polyuria, polydipsia and weight loss, 3 months following the commencement of durvalumab. On admission, she was in severe diabetic ketoacidosis with venous glucose: 20.1 mmol/L, pH: 7.14, bicarbonate 11.2 mmol/L and serum beta hydroxybutyrate: >8.0 mmol/L. She had no personal or family history of diabetes or autoimmune disease. Her HbA1c was 7.8% and her glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies were mildly elevated at 2.2 mU/L (reference range: <2 mU/L) with negative zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8) and islet cell (ICA) antibodies. Her fasting C-peptide was low at 86 pmol/L (reference range: 200–1200) with a corresponding serum glucose of 21.9 mmol/L. She was promptly stabilised with an insulin infusion in intensive care and discharged on basal bolus insulin. Durvalumab was recommenced once her glycaemic control had stabilised. Thyroid function tests at the time of admission were within normal limits with negative thyroid autoantibodies. Four weeks post discharge, repeat thyroid function tests revealed hypothyroidism, with an elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) at 6.39 mIU/L (reference range: 0.40–4.80) and low free T4: 5.9 pmol/L (reference range: 8.0–16.0). These findings persisted with repeat testing despite an absence of clinical symptoms. Treatment with levothyroxine was commenced after excluding adrenal insufficiency (early morning cortisol: 339 nmol/L) and hypophysitis (normal pituitary on MRI).

Learning points:

  • Durvalumab use is rarely associated with fulminant autoimmune diabetes, presenting with severe DKA.
  • Multiple endocrinopathies can co-exist with the use of a single immune checkpoint inhibitors; thus, patients should be regularly monitored.
  • Regular blood glucose levels should be performed on routine pathology on all patients on immune checkpoint inhibitor.
  • Clinician awareness of immunotherapy-related diabetes needs to increase in an attempt to detect hyperglycaemia early and prevent DKA.
Open access

Alessandro Rossini, Francesca Perticone, Laura Frosio, Marco Schiavo Lena and Roberto Lanzi

Summary

ACTH-secreting pheochromocytoma is a very rare cause of Cushing’s syndrome, with a high morbidity and mortality risk due to both cortisol and catecholamines excess. We report the case of a 45-year-old female patient with a 3 cm, high-density, left adrenal mass, diagnosed as an ACTH-secreting pheochromocytoma. The biochemical sensitivity of the tumor to somatostatin analogues was tested by a 100 μg s.c. octreotide administration, which led to an ACTH and cortisol reduction of 50 and 25% respectively. In addition to alpha and beta blockers, preoperative approach to laparoscopic adrenalectomy included octreotide, a somatostatin analogue, together with ketoconazole, in order to achieve an adequate pre-surgical control of cortisol release. Histopathological assessment confirmed an ACTH-secreting pheochromocytoma expressing type 2 and 5 somatostatin receptors (SSTR-2 and -5).

Learning points:

  • ACTH-secreting pheochromocytomas represent a rare and severe condition, characterized by high morbidity and mortality risk.
  • Surgical removal of the adrenal mass is the gold standard treatment, but adequate medical therapy is required preoperatively to improve the surgical outcome and to avoid major complications.
  • Somatostatin analogs, in addition to other medications, may represent a useful therapeutic option for the presurgical management of selected patients.
  • In this sense, the octreotide challenge test is a useful tool to predict favorable therapeutic response to the treatment.
Open access

Masato Kotani, Naohisa Tamura, Tatsuhide Inoue and Issei Tanaka

Summary

Type B insulin resistance syndrome is characterized by the presence of autoantibodies to the insulin receptor. We present a 57-year-old male admitted to a hospital due to body weight loss of 16 kg and hyperglycemia of 13.6 mmol/L. He was diagnosed with type B insulin resistance syndrome because the anti-insulin receptor antibodies were positive. We informed him that some hyperglycemic cases of this syndrome had been reported to be spontaneously remitted in 5 years, and he did not agree to be treated with high-dose glucocorticoids and/or immunosuppressive agents due to his concern for their adverse effects such as hyperglycemia and immunosuppression. He chose to be treated with insulin and voglibose, but fair glucose control could not be obtained. Six years later, he agreed to be treated with low-dose glucocorticoids practicable in outpatient settings. One milligram per day of betamethasone was tried orally and reduced gradually according to the values of glycated hemoglobin. After 30 months of glucocorticoid treatment, the anti-insulin receptor antibodies became undetectable and his fasting plasma glucose and glycated hemoglobin were normalized. This case suggests that low-dose glucocorticoids could be a choice to treat type B insulin resistance syndrome in outpatient settings.

Learning points:

  • Type B insulin resistance syndrome is an acquired autoimmune disease for insulin receptors.
  • This case suggested the possibility of long-lasting, low-dose glucocorticoid therapy for the syndrome as an alternative for high-dose glucocorticoids or immunosuppressive agents.
  • Since the prevalence of autoimmune nephritis is high in the syndrome, a delay of immunosuppressive therapy initiation might result in an exacerbation of nephropathy.