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Open access

Gemma White, Nicola Tufton and Scott A Akker

Summary

At least 40% of phaeochromocytomas and paraganglioma’s (PPGLs) are associated with an underlying genetic mutation. The understanding of the genetic landscape of these tumours has rapidly evolved, with 18 associated genes now identified. Among these, mutations in the subunits of succinate dehydrogenase complex (SDH) are the most common, causing around half of familial PPGL cases. Occurrence of PPGLs in carriers of SDHB, SDHC and SDHD subunit mutations has been long reported, but it is only recently that variants in the SDHA subunit have been linked to PPGL formation. Previously documented cases have, to our knowledge, only been found in isolated cases where pathogenic SDHA variants were identified retrospectively. We report the case of an asymptomatic suspected carotid body tumour found during surveillance screening in a 72-year-old female who is a known carrier of a germline SDHA pathogenic variant. To our knowledge, this is the first screen that detected PPGL found in a previously identified SDHA pathogenic variant carrier, during surveillance imaging. This finding supports the use of cascade genetic testing and surveillance screening in all carriers of a pathogenic SDHA variant.

Learning points:

  • SDH mutations are important causes of PPGL disease.

  • SDHA is much rarer compared to SDHB and SDHD mutations.

  • Pathogenicity and penetrance are yet to be fully determined in cases of SDHA-related PPGL.

  • Surveillance screening should be used for SDHA PPGL cases to identify recurrence, metastasis or metachronous disease.

  • Surveillance screening for SDH-related disease should be performed in identified carriers of a pathogenic SDHA variant.

Open access

Pradeep Vasudevan, Corrina Powell, Adeline K Nicholas, Ian Scudamore, James Greening, Soo-Mi Park and Nadia Schoenmakers

Summary

In the absence of maternal thyroid disease or iodine deficiency, fetal goitre is rare and usually attributable to dyshormonogenesis, for which genetic ascertainment is not always undertaken in the UK. Mechanical complications include tracheal and oesophageal compression with resultant polyhydramnios, malpresentation at delivery and neonatal respiratory distress. We report an Indian kindred in which the proband (first-born son) had congenital hypothyroidism (CH) without obvious neonatal goitre. His mother’s second pregnancy was complicated by fetal hypothyroid goitre and polyhydramnios, prompting amniotic fluid drainage and intraamniotic therapy (with liothyronine, T3 and levothyroxine, T4). Sadly, intrauterine death occurred at 31 weeks. Genetic studies in the proband demonstrated compound heterozygous novel (c.5178delT, p.A1727Hfs*26) and previously described (c.7123G > A, p.G2375R) thyroglobulin (TG) mutations which are the likely cause of fetal goitre in the deceased sibling. TG mutations rarely cause fetal goitre, and management remains controversial due to the potential complications of intrauterine therapy however an amelioration in goitre size may be achieved with intraamniotic T4, and intraamniotic T3/T4 combination has achieved a favourable outcome in one case. A conservative approach, with surveillance, elective delivery and commencement of levothyroxine neonatally may also be justified, although intubation may be required post delivery for respiratory obstruction. Our observations highlight the lethality which may be associated with fetal goitre. Additionally, although this complication may recur in successive pregnancies, our case highlights the possibility of discordance for fetal goitre in siblings harbouring the same dyshormonogenesis-associated genetic mutations. Genetic ascertainment may facilitate prenatal diagnosis and assist management in familial cases.

Learning points:

  • CH due to biallelic, loss-of-function TG mutations is well-described and readily treatable in childhood however mechanical complications from associated fetal goitre may include polyhydramnios, neonatal respiratory compromise and neck hyperextension with dystocia complicating delivery.

  • CH due to TG mutations may manifest with variable phenotypes, even within the same kindred.

  • Treatment options for hypothyroid dyshormogenic fetal goitre in a euthyroid mother include intraamniotic thyroid hormone replacement in cases with polyhydramnios or significant tracheal obstruction. Alternatively, cases may be managed conservatively with radiological surveillance, elective delivery and neonatal levothyroxine treatment, although intubation and ventilation may be required to support neonatal respiratory compromise.

  • Genetic ascertainment in such kindreds may enable prenatal diagnosis and anticipatory planning for antenatal management of further affected offspring.

Open access

Bronwen E Warner, Carol D Inward and Christine P Burren

Summary

This case, presenting with bilateral impalpable testes, illustrates the relevance of a broad differential disorders of sex development case management. It provides new insights on hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal (HPG) axis and testicular function abnormalities in the multisystem disorder of Lowe syndrome. Lowe syndrome, also known as oculocerebrorenal syndrome, is a rare disorder characterised by eye abnormalities, central nervous system involvement and proximal renal tubular acidosis. There are a handful of reports of pubertal delay, infertility and cryptorchidism in Lowe syndrome. Biochemistry aged 72 h: testosterone 6.4 nmol/L, LH <0.5 IU/L and FSH <0.5 IU/L. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone stimulation test identified significantly raised baseline LH = 45.4 IU/L (contrasts with earlier undetectable LH), with a 20% increase on stimulation, while baseline FSH = 4.3 IU/L with no increase on stimulation. Day 14 HCG stimulation test produced an acceptable 50% increase in testosterone. The constellation of further abnormalities suggested Lowe syndrome: hypotonia, bilateral cataracts (surgical extraction and intraocular lens implantation) and renal tubular acidosis (microscopic haematuria, hypercalciuria, proteinuria, generalised aminoaciduria, hypophosphataemia and metabolic acidosis). DNA sequencing identified de novo hemizygous frameshift mutation OCRL c.2409_2410delCT in exon 22. Interpretation of initial and repeat GnRH and HCG testing indicates the likelihood of testicular failure. Partial testicular descent occurred but left orchidopexy was required. Improving long-term gonadal function in Lowe syndrome assumes increased importance for current cohorts as advances in renal replacement therapy have greatly improved life expectancy. Noting HPG axis abnormalities in Lowe syndrome in infancy can identify cases requiring increased surveillance of pubertal progress for earlier detection and management.

Learning points:

  • Clinical endocrine problems in Lowe syndrome has been reported, but has focused on abnormalities in adolescence and young adulthood: pubertal delay and infertility.

  • We present an infant with isolated LH elevation at baseline and on GnRH stimulation testing who also had bilateral impalpable testes.

  • Early testing of the HPG axis in patients with Lowe syndrome may help predict gonadal abnormalities from a younger age, which will enhance the overall case management into adolescence.

Open access

Rowena Speak, Jackie Cook, Barney Harrison and John Newell-Price

Mutations of the rearranged during transfection (RET) proto-oncogene, located on chromosome 10q11.2, cause multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN2A). Patients with mutations at the codon 609 usually exhibit a high penetrance of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), but a sufficiently low penetrance of phaeochromocytoma that screening for this latter complication has been called to question. Patients with other RET mutations are at higher risk of younger age onset phaeochromocytoma if they also possess other RET polymorphisms (L769L, S836S, G691S and S904S), but there are no similar data for patients with 609 mutations. We investigated the unusual phenotypic presentation in a family with MEN2A due to a C609Y mutation in RET. Sanger sequencing of the entire RET-coding region and exon–intron boundaries was performed. Five family members were C609Y mutation positive: 3/5 initially presented with phaeochromocytoma, but only 1/5 had MTC. The index case aged 73 years had no evidence of MTC, but presented with phaeochromocytoma. Family members also possessed the G691S and S904S RET polymorphisms. We illustrate a high penetrance of phaeochromocytoma and low penetrance of MTC in patients with a RET C609Y mutation and polymorphisms G691S and S904S. These data highlight the need for life-long screening for the complications of MEN2A in these patients and support the role for the screening of RET polymorphisms for the purposes of risk stratification.

Learning points:

  • C609Y RET mutations may be associated with a life-long risk of phaeochromocytoma indicating the importance of life-long screening for this condition in patients with MEN2A.

  • C609Y RET mutations may be associated with a lower risk of MTC than often quoted, questioning the need for early prophylactic thyroid surgery discussion at the age of 5 years.

  • There may be a role for the routine screening of RET polymorphisms, and this is greatly facilitated by the increasing ease of access to next-generation sequencing.

Open access

Kirun Gunganah, Ashley Grossman and Maralyn Druce

Summary

A 22-year-old female student presented with a history of recurrent pancreatitis. The commonest causes of pancreatitis, including drugs, gallstones, corticosteroids, excess alcohol and hypertriglyceridaemia, were excluded. She was found to have an elevated serum calcium level that was considered to be the cause of her pancreatitis, with a detectable serum parathyroid hormone (PTH). An initial diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism was made. However, two neck explorations failed to reveal a parathyroid adenoma. She was referred to our unit three years later as her episodes of pancreatitis were becoming more frequent and her calcium level remained persistently elevated. Her investigations were as follows: elevated adjusted calcium level of 2.79 mmol/l (2.2–2.58), PTH level of 4.2 pmol/l (0.6–6.0), low 24 h urine calcium of 0.3 mmol/l and a urine calcium:creatinine ratio of <0.003. A clinical diagnosis of familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FHH) was made and confirmed on genetic testing that showed a c.1703 G>A mutation in the calcium-sensing receptor gene. Although the hypercalcaemia of FHH is usually without sequelae due to the generalised changes in calcium sensing, in the presence of this complication she was started on cinacalcet 30 mg daily. She had one further episode of pancreatitis with calcium levels ranging between 2.53 and 2.66 mmol/l. Her cinacalcet was gradually increased to 30 mg three times daily, maintaining her calcium levels in the range of 2.15–2.20 mmol/l. She has not had a further episode of pancreatitis for more than 2 years.

FHH is usually a benign condition with minimal complications from hypercalcaemia. Pancreatitis has been reported rarely, and no clear management strategy has been defined in these cases. Cinacalcet was successfully used in treating recurrent pancreatitis in a patient with FHH by maintaining calcium levels in the lower part of the reference range. Whether or not this is an effective long-term treatment remains yet to be seen.

Learning points

  • FHH is an important differential diagnosis for hypercalcaemia.

  • FHH can rarely cause pancreatitis.

  • No clear strategy is available to help in the management of patients with pancreatitis due to FHH.

  • Cinacalcet was effective in lowering serum calcium levels and reducing the frequency of pancreatitis in our patient with FHH.

Open access

A Tabasum, C Shute, D Datta and L George

Summary

Hypokalaemia may present as muscle cramps and Cardiac arrhythmias. This is a condition commonly encountered by endocrinologists and general physicians alike. Herein, we report the case of a 43-year-old gentleman admitted with hypokalaemia, who following subsequent investigations was found to have Gitelman's syndrome (GS). This rare, inherited, autosomal recessive renal tubular disorder is associated with genetic mutations in the thiazide-sensitive sodium chloride co-transporter and magnesium channels in the distal convoluted tubule. Patients with GS typically presents at an older age, and a spectrum of clinical presentations exists, from being asymptomatic to predominant muscular symptoms. Clinical suspicion should be raised in those with hypokalaemic metabolic alkalosis associated with hypomagnesaemia. Treatment of GS consists of long-term potassium and magnesium salt replacement. In general, the long-term prognosis in terms of preserved renal function and life expectancy is excellent. Herein, we discuss the biochemical imbalance in the aetiology of GS, and the case report highlights the need for further investigations in patients with recurrent hypokalaemic episodes.

Learning points

  • Recurrent hypokalaemia with no obvious cause warrants investigation for hereditary renal tubulopathies.

  • GS is the most common inherited renal tubulopathy with a prevalence of 25 per million people.

  • GS typically presents at an older age and clinical suspicion should be raised in those with hypokalaemic metabolic alkalosis associated with hypomagnesaemia.

  • Confirmation of diagnosis is by molecular analysis for mutation in the SLC12A3 gene.

Open access

Suresh Chandran, Fabian Yap Kok Peng, Victor Samuel Rajadurai, Yap Te Lu, Kenneth T E Chang, S E Flanagan, S Ellard and Khalid Hussain

Summary

background: Congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI) is a rare genetic disorder characterised by inappropriate insulin secretion in the face of severe hypoglycaemia. There are two histological subtypes of CHI namely diffuse and focal. Diffuse CHI is most common due to recessive mutations in ABCC8/KCNJ11 (which encode the SUR/KIR6.2 components of the pancreatic β-cell KATP channel) whereas focal CHI is due to a paternally inherited ABCC8/KCNJ11 mutation and somatic loss of heterozygosity for the 11p allele inside the focal lesion. Fluorine-18-l-dihydroxyphenylalanine positron emission tomography/computed tomography (18F-DOPA-PET/CT) is used in the pre-operative localisation of focal lesions prior to surgery. Diffuse CHI if medically unresponsive will require a near total pancreatectomy whereas focal CHI will only require a limited lesionectomy, thus curing the patient from the hypoglycaemia.

Aims: To report the first case of genetically confirmed CHI in Singapore from a heterozygous paternally inherited ABCC8 mutation.

Methods/Results: A term male infant presented with severe hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (HH) after birth and failed medical treatment with diazoxide and octreotide. Genetic testing (paternally inherited mutation in ABCC8/p.D1472N) suggested focal disease, but due to the unavailability of 18F-DOPA-PET/CT to confirm focal disease, a partial pancreatectomy was performed. Interestingly, histology of the resected pancreatic tissue showed changes typical of diffuse disease.

Conclusion: Heterozygous paternally inherited ABCC8/KCNJ11 mutations can lead to diffuse or focal CHI.

Learning points

  • HH is a cause of severe hypoglycaemia in the newborn period.

  • Paternal mutations in ABCC8/KCNJ11 can lead to diffuse or focal disease.

  • 18F-DOPA-PET/CT scan is the current imaging of choice for localising focal lesions.

  • Gallium-68 tetra-aza-cyclododecane-N NNN-‴-tetra-acetate octreotate PET scan is not a useful imaging tool for localising focal lesions.

  • The molecular mechanism by which a heterozygous ABCC8 mutation leads to diffuse disease is currently unclear.

  • Focal lesions are curable by lesionectomy and so genetic studies in patients with HH must be followed by imaging using 18F-DOPA-PET/CT scan.

Open access

Ramesh Srinivasan, Stephen Ball, Martin Ward-Platt, David Bourn, Ciaron McAnulty and Tim Cheetham

Summary

Aim: Differentiating familial cranial diabetes insipidus (CDI) from primary polydipsia can be difficult. We report the diagnostic utility of genetic testing as a means of confirming or excluding this diagnosis.

Patient and methods: The index case presented at 3 months with polydipsia. He was diagnosed with familial CDI based on a positive family history combined with what was considered to be suspicious symptomatology and biochemistry. He was treated with desmopressin (DDAVP) but re-presented at 5 months of age with hyponatraemia and the DDAVP was stopped. Gene sequencing of the vasopressin gene in father and his offspring was undertaken to establish the underlying molecular defect.

Results: Both father and daughter were found to have the pathogenic mutation c.242T>C (p.Leu81Pro) in exon 2 of the AVP gene consistent with a diagnosis of familial diabetes insipidus. The index case did not have the pathogenic mutation and the family could be reassured that he would not require intervention with DDAVP.

Conclusions: Gene sequencing of AVP gene can have a valuable role in predicting whether or not a child is at risk of developing CDI in future. This can help to prevent family uncertainty and unnecessary treatment with its associated risks.

Learning points

  • Differentiating patients with familial cranial diabetes insipidus from those with primary polydipsia is not always straightforward.

  • Molecular genetic analysis of the vasopressin gene is a valuable way of confirming or refuting a diagnosis of familial CDI in difficult cases and is a valuable way of identifying individuals who will develop CDI in later childhood. This information can be of great value to families.

Open access

N Amin, N S Alvi, J H Barth, H P Field, E Finlay, K Tyerman, S Frazer, G Savill, N P Wright, T Makaya and T Mushtaq

Summary

Type 1 pseudohypoaldosteronism (PHA) is a rare heterogeneous group of disorders characterised by resistance to aldosterone action. There is resultant salt wasting in the neonatal period, with hyperkalaemia and metabolic acidosis. Only after results confirm isolated resistance to aldosterone can the diagnosis of type 1 PHA be confidently made. Type 1 PHA can be further classified into i) renal type 1 (autosomal dominant (AD)) and ii) multiple target organ defect/systemic type 1 (autosomal recessive (AR)). The aim of this case series was to characterise the mode of presentation, management and short-term clinical outcomes of patients with PHA type 1. Case notes of newly diagnosed infants presenting with PHA type 1 were reviewed over a 5-year time period. Seven patients were diagnosed with PHA type 1. Initial presentation ranged from 4 to 28 days of age. Six had weight loss as a presenting feature. All subjects had hyperkalaemia, hyponatraemia, with elevated renin and aldosterone levels. Five patients have renal PHA type 1 and two patients have systemic PHA type, of whom one has had genetic testing to confirm the AR gene mutation on the SCNN1A gene. Renal PHA type 1 responds well to salt supplementation, whereas management of patients with systemic PHA type 1 proves more difficult as they are likely to get frequent episodes of electrolyte imbalance requiring urgent correction.

Learning points

  • Patients with type 1 PHA are likely to present in the neonatal period with hyponatraemia, hyperkalaemia and metabolic acidosis and can be diagnosed by the significantly elevated plasma renin activity and aldosterone levels.

  • The differential diagnosis of type 1 PHA includes adrenal disorders such as adrenal hypoplasia and congenital adrenal hyperplasia; thus, adrenal function including cortisol levels, 17-hydroxyprogesterone and a urinary steroid profile are required. Secondary (transient) causes of PHA may be due to urinary tract infections or renal anomalies; thus, urine culture and renal ultrasound scan are required respectively.

  • A differentiation between renal and systemic PHA type 1 may be made based on sodium requirements, ease of management of electrolyte imbalance, sweat test results and genetic testing.

  • Management of renal PHA type 1 is with sodium supplementation, and requirements often decrease with age.

  • Systemic PHA type 1 requires aggressive and intensive fluid and electrolyte management. Securing an enteral feeding route and i.v. access are essential to facilitate ongoing therapy.

  • In this area of the UK, the incidence of AD PHA and AR PHA was calculated to be 1:66 000 and 1:166 000 respectively.

Open access

S A S Aftab, N Reddy, N L Owen, R Pollitt, A Harte, P G McTernan, G Tripathi and T M Barber

Summary

A 19-year-old woman was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). She had sustained numerous low-trauma fractures throughout her childhood, including a recent pelvic fracture (superior and inferior ramus) following a low-impact fall. She had the classical blue sclerae, and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) bone scanning confirmed low bone mass for her age in the lumbar spine (Z-score was −2.6). However, despite these classical clinical features, the diagnosis of OI had not been entertained throughout the whole of her childhood. Sequencing of her genomic DNA revealed that she was heterozygous for the c.3880_3883dup mutation in exon 50 of the COL1A1 gene. This mutation is predicted to result in a frameshift at p.Thr1295, and truncating stop codon 3 amino acids downstream. To our knowledge, this mutation has not previously been reported in OI.

Learning points

  • OI is a rare but important genetic metabolic bone and connective tissue disorder that manifests a diverse clinical phenotype that includes recurrent low-impact fractures.

  • Most mutations that underlie OI occur within exon 50 of the COL1A1 gene (coding for protein constituents of type 1 pro-collagen).

  • The diagnosis of OI is easily missed in its mild form. Early diagnosis is important, and there is a need for improved awareness of OI among health care professionals.

  • OI is a diagnosis of exclusion, although the key diagnostic criterion is through genetic testing for mutations within the COL1A1 gene.

  • Effective management of OI should be instituted through a multidisciplinary team approach that includes a bone specialist (usually an endocrinologist or rheumatologist), a geneticist, an audiometrist and a genetic counsellor. Physiotherapy and orthopaedic surgery may also be required.