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Open access

Sophie Comte-Perret, Anne Zanchi and Fulgencio Gomez

Summary

Medical therapy for Cushing's syndrome due to bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia (BMAH) is generally administered for a limited time before surgery. Aberrant receptors antagonists show inconsistent efficacy in the long run to prevent adrenalectomy. We present a patient with BMAH, treated for 10 years with low doses of ketoconazole to control cortisol secretion. A 48-year-old woman presented with headaches and hypertension. Investigations showed the following: no clinical signs of Cushing's syndrome; enlarged lobulated adrenals; normal creatinine, potassium, and aldosterone; normal urinary aldosterone and metanephrines; elevated urinary free cortisol and steroid metabolites; and suppressed plasma renin activity and ACTH. A screening protocol for aberrant adrenal receptors failed to show any illegitimate hormone dependence. Ketoconazole caused rapid normalisation of cortisol and ACTH that persists over 10 years on treatment, while adrenals show no change in shape or size. Ketoconazole decreases cortisol in patients with Cushing's syndrome, and may prevent adrenal overgrowth. Steroid secretion in BMAH is inefficient as compared with normal adrenals or secreting tumours and can be controlled with low, well-tolerated doses of ketoconazole, as an alternative to surgery.

Learning points

  • Enlarged, macronodular adrenals are often incidentally found during the investigation of hypertension in patients harboring BMAH. Although laboratory findings include low ACTH and elevated cortisol, the majority of patients do not display cushingoid features.

  • Bilateral adrenalectomy, followed by life-long steroid replacement, is the usual treatment of this benign condition, and alternative medical therapy is sought. Therapy based on aberrant adrenal receptors gives disappointing results, and inhibitors of steroidogenesis are not always well tolerated.

  • However, ketoconazole at low, well-tolerated doses appeared appropriate to control adrenal steroid secretion indefinitely, while preventing adrenal overgrowth. This treatment probably constitutes the most convenient long-term alternative to surgery.

Open access

Ravi Kumar Menon, Francesco Ferrau, Tom R Kurzawinski, Gill Rumsby, Alexander Freeman, Zahir Amin, Márta Korbonits and Teng-Teng L L Chung

Summary

Adrenal cortical carcinoma (ACC) has previously only been reported in eight patients with type 1 neurofibromatosis (NF1). There has not been any clear evidence of a causal association between NF1 gene mutations and adrenocortical malignancy development. We report the case of a 49-year-old female, with no family history of endocrinopathy, who was diagnosed with ACC on the background of NF1, due to a novel germline frame shift mutation (c.5452_5453delAT) in exon 37 of the NF1 gene. A left adrenal mass was detected by ultrasound and characterised by contrast computerised tomography (CT) scan. Biochemical tests showed mild hypercortisolism and androgen excess. A 24-h urinary steroid profile and 18flouro deoxy glucose PET suggested ACC. An open adrenalectomy was performed and histology confirmed ACC. This is the first reported case with DNA analysis, which demonstrated the loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the NF1 locus in the adrenal cancer, supporting the hypothesis of an involvement of the NF1 gene in the pathogenesis of ACC. LOH analysis of the tumour suggests that the loss of neurofibromin in the adrenal cells may lead to tumour formation.

Learning points

  • ACC is rare but should be considered in a patient with NF1 and adrenal mass when plasma metanephrines are normal.

  • Urinary steroid metabolites and PET/CT are helpful in supporting evidence for ACC.

  • The LOH at the NF1 region of the adrenal tumour supports the role of loss of neurofibromin in the development of ACC.

Open access

N Atapattu, K A C P Imalke, M Madarasinghe, A Lamahewage and K S H de Silva

Summary

Children rarely present with phaeochromocytoma. Their presentation differs from that of adults. The classic triad of sweating, headache and palpitation may not always present in children with phaeochromocytoma. In this study, we present a 6-year-old girl who came to us with polyuria and polydipsia for evaluation of suspected diabetes insipidus. She gave a clear history of increased sweating in the recent past. On clinical examination, she was noted to have high blood pressure. Subsequent investigations revealed a phaeochromocytoma. Her polyuria and hypertension resolved immediately after the surgery. We did not have the facilities to arrange for genetic tests; however, the patient and the family members are under follow-up for other associated conditions.

Learning points

  • Polyuria and polydipsia are rare symptoms of phaeochromocytoma.

  • Complete physical examination prevented unnecessary investigations for polyuria and led to a correct diagnosis.

  • Classic features are not always necessary for diagnostic evaluation of rare diseases.

Open access

Jiman Kim, Eulsun Moon and Seungwon Kwon

Summary

Diabetic nephropathy, a microvascular complication of diabetes, is a progressive kidney disease caused by angiopathy of the capillaries in the kidney glomeruli. Herein, we report a case of a 62-year-old patient with a 30 year history of diabetes, who showed a substantial improvement in diabetic nephropathy on administration of 30 g of Astragalus membranaceus extract per day. After 1 month, estimated glomerular filtration rate increased from 47 to 72 ml/min per 1.73 m2 and was subsequently maintained at the 1-month follow-up. Urinary protein levels also decreased following treatment. Herein, we present and discuss the evidence and mechanism of A. membranaceus on diabetic nephropathy in this patient.

Learning points

  • Diabetic nephropathy is a progressive kidney disease.

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are currently used to prevent and delay the progression of diabetic nephropathy. However, their effects are not sufficient to prevent a decline in kidney function.

  • Furthermore, combination therapy with an ACE inhibitor and an ARB can produce adverse effects without additional benefits.

  • In the early phase of diabetic nephropathy, administration of Astragalus membranaceus can be a therapeutic option.

Open access

Maria Pikilidou, Maria Yavropoulou and Marios Katsounaros

Summary

We report a case of a female with hemihypertrophy, who developed five recurrences of pheochromocytomas until the age of 35. Timely follow-up of the patient's blood pressure assisted in early diagnosis and treatment of recurrent tumors.

Learning points

  • Recurrent benign pheochromocytomas should raise suspicion of a genetic syndrome.

  • A pheochromocytoma at a young age has a high propensity to recur and strict follow-up is mandatory.

Open access

Betty Korljan Jelaska, Sanja Baršić Ostojić, Nina Berović and Višnja Kokić

Summary

Glycogen storage disease (GSD) type I is characterized by impaired production of glucose from glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis resulting in severe hypoglycaemia and increased production of lactic acid, triglyceride and uric acid. The most common type, glycogenosis type Ia, demands a balanced, sufficient carbohydrate intake to preserve normal 24-h glycaemia. Insufficient intake of carbohydrates can cause hypoglycaemia, as the missing glucose-6-phosphatase enzyme cannot free the glucose stored as liver glycogen and nor is gluconeogenesis possible. The principle means of handling this disorder is to avoid starving by taking regular meals during the day and night. Such a dietary regimen could lead to obesity. Herein, we present the case of an adult patient with glycogenosis type Ia suffering from hyperuricaemia, dyslipidaemia and arterial hypertension. The accumulation of these cardiovascular risk factors could lead to the early onset of atherosclerosis, which should be postponed by contemporary methods of surveillance and treatment.

Learning points

  • Continuous subcutaneous glucose monitoring may be of value in every adult patient with GSD type I to evaluate the actual prevalence of eventual hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemic episodes.

  • Good dietary management minimizes the metabolic abnormalities of the disease and decreases the risk of long-term complications.

  • Treatment of obesity in patients with GSD reduces the risk of earlier atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.