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Yasufumi Seki Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Satoshi Morimoto Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Naohiro Yoshida Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Kanako Bokuda Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Nobukazu Sasaki Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Midori Yatabe Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Junichi Yatabe Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Daisuke Watanabe Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Satoru Morita Departments of Diagnostic Imaging and Nuclear Medicine, Tokyo, Japan

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Keisuke Hata Departments of Urology, Kidney Center, Tokyo, Japan

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Tomoko Yamamoto Departments of Surgical Pathology, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, Tokyo, Japan

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Yoji Nagashima Departments of Surgical Pathology, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, Tokyo, Japan

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Atsuhiro Ichihara Departments of Endocrinology and Hypertension, Tokyo, Japan

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Summary

Primary aldosteronism (PA) is more common than expected. Aberrant adrenal expression of luteinizing hormone (LH) receptor in patients with PA has been reported; however, its physiological role on the development of PA is still unknown. Herein, we report two unique cases of PA in patients with untreated Klinefelter’s syndrome, characterized as increased serum LH, suggesting a possible contribution of the syndrome to PA development. Case 1 was a 39-year-old man with obesity and hypertension since his 20s. His plasma aldosterone concentration (PAC) and renin activity (PRA) were 220 pg/mL and 0.4 ng/mL/h, respectively. He was diagnosed as having bilateral PA by confirmatory tests and adrenal venous sampling (AVS). Klinefelter’s syndrome was suspected as he showed gynecomastia and small testes, and it was confirmed on the basis of a low serum total testosterone level (57.3 ng/dL), high serum LH level (50.9 mIU/mL), and chromosome analysis. Case 2 was a 28-year-old man who had untreated Klinefelter’s syndrome diagnosed in his childhood and a 2-year history of hypertension and hypokalemia. PAC and PRA were 247 pg/mL and 0.3 ng/mL/h, respectively. He was diagnosed as having a 10 mm-sized aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA) by AVS. In the APA, immunohistochemical analysis showed co-expression of LH receptor and CYP11B2. Our cases of untreated Klinefelter’s syndrome complicated with PA suggest that increased serum LH levels and adipose tissues, caused by primary hypogonadism, could contribute to PA development. The possible complication of PA in hypertensive patients with Klinefelter’s syndrome should be carefully considered.

Learning points:

  • The pathogenesis of primary aldosteronism is still unclear.

  • Expression of luteinizing hormone receptor has been reported in aldosterone-producing adenoma.

  • Serum luteinizing hormone, which is increased in patients with Klinefelter’s syndrome, might contribute to the development of primary aldosteronism.

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Nicholas J Theis Dunedin School of Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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Toby Calvert Dunedin School of Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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Peter McIntyre Women’s and Children’s Health, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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Stephen P Robertson Women’s and Children’s Health, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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Benjamin J Wheeler Women’s and Children’s Health, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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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.

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Sharmin Jahan Department of Endocrinology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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M A Hasanat Department of Endocrinology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Tahseen Mahmood Department of Endocrinology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Shahed Morshed Department of Endocrinology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Raziul Haq Department of Neurosurgery, Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Md Fariduddin Department of Endocrinology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Summary

Silent corticotroph adenoma (SCA) is an unusual type of nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma (NFA) that is silent both clinically and biochemically and can only be recognized by positive immunostaining for ACTH. Under rare circumstances, it can transform into hormonally active disease presenting with severe Cushing syndrome. It might often produce diagnostic dilemma with difficult management issue if not thoroughly investigated and subtyped accordingly following surgery. Here, we present a 21-year-old male who initially underwent pituitary adenomectomy for presumed NFA with compressive symptoms. However, he developed recurrent and invasive macroadenoma with severe clinical as well as biochemical hypercortisolism during post-surgical follow-up. Repeat pituitary surgery was carried out urgently as there was significant optic chiasmal compression. Immunohistochemical analysis of the tumor tissue obtained on repeat surgery proved it to be an aggressive corticotroph adenoma. Though not cured, he showed marked clinical and biochemical improvement in the immediate postoperative period. Anticipating recurrence from the residual tumor, we referred him for cyber knife radio surgery.

Learning points:

  • Pituitary NFA commonly present with compressive symptoms such as headache and blurred vision.

  • Post-surgical development of Cushing syndrome in such a case could be either drug induced or endogenous.

  • In the presence of recurrent pituitary tumor, ACTH-dependent Cushing syndrome indicates CD.

  • Rarely a SCA presenting initially as NFA can transform into an active corticotroph adenoma.

  • Immunohistochemical marker for ACTH in the resected tumor confirms the diagnosis.

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G Leksic Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Internal Medicine

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A M Alduk Department of Radiology, University Hospital Centre Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

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V Molnar Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Internal Medicine

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A Haxhiu Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Internal Medicine

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A Balasko Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Internal Medicine

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N Knezevic Department of Urology, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Centre Zagreb, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

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T Dusek Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Centre Zagreb, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

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D Kastelan Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Centre Zagreb, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

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Summary

Primary aldosteronism (PA) is characterised by aldosterone hypersecretion and represents a common cause of secondary hypertension. During diagnostic evaluation, it is essential to determine the aetiology of PA since the treatment of unilateral and bilateral disease differs significantly. Adrenal vein sampling (AVS) has been implemented as a gold standard test for the diagnosis of PA subtype. However, due to the AVS complexity, costs and limited availability, many patients with PA are being treated based on the computed tomography (CT) findings. In this article, we present two patients with discrepant CT and AVS results, demonstrating that AVS is the only reliable method for localising the source of aldosterone excess.

Learning points:

  • CT is an unreliable method for distinguishing aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA) from bilateral adrenal hyperplasia (BAH).

  • CT can be misleading in defining lateralisation of the aldosterone excess in case of unilateral disease (APA).

  • AVS is the gold standard test for defining the PA subtype.

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Matthieu St-Jean Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine and Research Center, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

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Jessica MacKenzie-Feder Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine and Research Center, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

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Isabelle Bourdeau Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine and Research Center, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

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André Lacroix Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine and Research Center, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

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Summary

A 29-year-old G4A3 woman presented at 25 weeks of pregnancy with progressive signs of Cushing’s syndrome (CS), gestational diabetes requiring insulin and hypertension. A 3.4 × 3.3 cm right adrenal adenoma was identified during abdominal ultrasound imaging for nephrolithiasis. Investigation revealed elevated levels of plasma cortisol, 24 h urinary free cortisol (UFC) and late-night salivary cortisol (LNSC). Serum ACTH levels were not fully suppressed (4 and 5 pmol/L (N: 2–11)). One month post-partum, CS regressed, 24-h UFC had normalised while ACTH levels were now less than 2 pmol/L; however, dexamethasone failed to suppress cortisol levels. Tests performed in vivo 6 weeks post-partum to identify aberrant hormone receptors showed no cortisol stimulation by various tests (including 300 IU hLH i.v.) except after administration of 250 µg i.v. Cosyntropin 1–24. Right adrenalectomy demonstrated an adrenocortical adenoma and atrophy of adjacent cortex. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis of the adenoma revealed the presence of ACTH (MC2) receptor mRNA, while LHCG receptor mRNA was almost undetectable. This case reveals that CS exacerbation in the context of pregnancy can result from the placental-derived ACTH stimulation of MC2 receptors on the adrenocortical adenoma. Possible contribution of other placental-derived factors such as oestrogens, CRH or CRH-like peptides cannot be ruled out.

Learning points:

  • Diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome during pregnancy is complicated by several physiological alterations in hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis regulation occurring in normal pregnancy.

  • Cushing’s syndrome (CS) exacerbation during pregnancy can be associated with aberrant expression of LHCG receptor on primary adrenocortical tumour or hyperplasia in some cases, but not in this patient.

  • Placental-derived ACTH, which is not subject to glucocorticoid negative feedback, stimulated cortisol secretion from this adrenal adenoma causing transient CS exacerbation during pregnancy.

  • Following delivery and tumour removal, suppression of HPA axis can require several months to recover and requires glucocorticoid replacement therapy.

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Florence Gunawan Geelong University Hospital, Barwon Health, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

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Elizabeth George
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Adam Roberts
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Summary

Immune checkpoint inhibitors are the mainstay of treatment for advanced melanoma, and their use is being increasingly implicated in the development of autoimmune endocrinopathies. We present a case of a 52-year-old man with metastatic melanoma on combination nivolumab and ipilumimab therapy who developed concurrent hypophysitis, type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and diabetes insipidus. He presented prior to third cycle of combination treatment with a headache, myalgias and fatigue. Biochemistry and MRI pituitary confirmed anterior pituitary dysfunction with a TSH: 0.02 mU/L (0.5–5.5 mU/L), fT4: 5.2 pmol/L (11–22 pmol/L), fT3: 4.0 pmol/L (3.2–6.4 pmol/L), cortisol (12:00 h): <9 nmol/L (74–286 nmol/L), FSH: 0.7 IU/L (1.5–9.7 IU/L), LH: <0.1 IU/L (1.8–9.2 IU/L), PRL: 1 mIU/L (90–400 mIU/L), SHBG: 34 nmol/L (19–764 nmol/L) and total testosterone: <0.4 nmol/L (9.9–27.8 nmol/L). High-dose dexamethasone (8 mg) was administered followed by hydrocortisone, thyroxine and topical testosterone replacement. Two weeks post administration of the third cycle, he became unwell with lethargy, weight loss and nocturia. Central diabetes insipidus was diagnosed on the basis of symptoms and sodium of 149 mmol/L (135–145 mmol/L). Desmopressin nasal spray was instituted with symptom resolution and normalization of serum sodium. Three weeks later, he presented again polyuric and polydipsic. His capillary glucose was 20.8 mmol/L (ketones of 2.4 mmol), low C-peptide 0.05 nmol/L (0.4–1.5 nmol/L) and HbA1c of 7.7%. T1DM was suspected, and he was commenced on an insulin infusion with rapid symptom resolution. Insulin antibodies glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), insulin antibody-2 (IA-2) and zinc transporter-8 (ZnT8) were negative. A follow-up MRI pituitary revealed findings consistent with recovering autoimmune hypophysitis. Immunotherapy was discontinued based on the extent of these autoimmune endocrinopathies.

Learning points:

  • The most effective regime for treatment of metastatic melanoma is combination immunotherapy with nivolumab and ipilumimab, and this therapy is associated with a high incidence of autoimmune endocrinopathies.

  • Given the high prevalence of immune-related adverse events, the threshold for functional testing should be low.

  • Traditional antibody testing may not be reliable to identify early-onset endocrinopathy.

  • Routine screening pathways have yet to be adequately validated through clinical trials.

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Teresa Rego Endocrinology Department, Hospital Curry Cabral, Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central, Lisbon, Portugal

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Fernando Fonseca Endocrinology Department, Hospital Curry Cabral, Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central, Lisbon, Portugal

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Stéphanie Espiard Endocrinology Department, INSERM U1016, Institut Cochin, Paris Descartes University, & Center for Rare Adrenal Diseases, Hôpital Cochin, APHP-Paris, France

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Karine Perlemoine Endocrinology Department, INSERM U1016, Institut Cochin, Paris Descartes University, & Center for Rare Adrenal Diseases, Hôpital Cochin, APHP-Paris, France

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Jérôme Bertherat Endocrinology Department, INSERM U1016, Institut Cochin, Paris Descartes University, & Center for Rare Adrenal Diseases, Hôpital Cochin, APHP-Paris, France

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Ana Agapito Endocrinology Department, Hospital Curry Cabral, Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central, Lisbon, Portugal

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Summary

PBMAH is a rare etiology of Cushing syndrome (CS). Familial clustering suggested a genetic cause that was recently confirmed, after identification of inactivating germline mutations in armadillo repeat-containing 5 (ARMC5) gene. A 70-year-old female patient was admitted due to left femoral neck fracture in May 2014, in Orthopedics Department. During hospitalization, hypertension (HTA) and hypokalemia were diagnosed. She presented with clinical signs of hypercortisolism and was transferred to the Endocrinology ward for suspected CS. Laboratory workup revealed: ACTH <5 pg/mL; urinary free cortisol (UFC), 532 µg/24 h (normal range: 20–90); failure to suppress the low-dose dexamethasone test (0.5 mg every 6 h for 48 h): cortisol 21 µg/dL. Abdominal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed enlarged nodular adrenals (right, 55 × 54 × 30 mm; left, 85 × 53 × 35 mm), and she was submitted to bilateral adrenalectomy. In 2006, this patient’s 39-year-old daughter had been treated by one of the authors. She presented with severe clinical and biological hypercortisolism. Computed tomography (CT) scan showed massively enlarged nodular adrenals with maximal axis of 15 cm for both. Bilateral adrenalectomy was performed. In this familial context of PBMAH, genetic study was performed. Leucocyte DNA genotyping identified in both patients the same germline heterozygous ARMC5 mutation in exon 1 c.172_173insA p.I58Nfs*45. The clinical cases herein described have an identical phenotype with severe hypercortisolism and huge adrenal glands, but different ages at the time of diagnosis. Current knowledge of inheritance of this disease, its insidious nature and the well-known deleterious effect of hypercortisolism favor genetic study to timely identify and treat these patients.

Learning points:

  • PBMAH is a rare etiology of CS, characterized by functioning adrenal macronodules and variable cortisol secretion.

  • The asymmetric/asynchronous involvement of only one adrenal gland can also occur, making disease diagnosis a challenge.

  • Familial clustering suggests a genetic cause that was recently confirmed, after identification of inactivating germline mutations in armadillo repeat-containing 5 (ARMC5) gene.

  • The insidious nature of this disease and the well-known deleterious effect of hypercortisolism favor genetic study of other family members, to diagnose and treat these patients timely.

  • As ARMC5 is expressed in many organs and recent findings suggest an association of PBMAH and meningioma, a watchful follow-up is required.

Open access
Runa Acharya University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Fellowship Program, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

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Udaya M Kabadi Veteran Affairs Medical Center and Broadlawns Medical Center, Des Moines University of Osteopathic Medicine, Des Moines, Iowa, USA
University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
Medicine and Endocrinology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
Des Moines University, Des Moines, Iowa, USA

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Summary

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is commonly encountered in clinical practice. The current case is a unique and rare presentation of DKA as the initial manifestation of Cushing’s disease secondary to ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma. Appropriate management as elaborated in the article led to total remission of diabetes as well as the Cushing’s disease.

Learning points:

  • DKA is a serious and potentially life-threatening metabolic complication of diabetes mellitus.

  • Some well-known precipitants of DKA include new-onset T1DM, insulin withdrawal and acute illness.

  • In a patient presenting with DKA, the presence of a mixed acid–base disorder warrants further evaluation for precipitants of DKA.

  • We present a rare case of DKA as an initial manifestation of Cushing’s disease secondary to ACTH-producing pituitary adenoma.

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M J Trott Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

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G Farah Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

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V J Stokes Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

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L M Wang Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

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A B Grossman Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

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Summary

We present a case of a young female patient with a rare cause of relapsing and remitting Cushing’s syndrome due to ectopic ACTH secretion from a thymic neuroendocrine tumour. A 34-year-old female presented with a constellation of symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, including facial swelling, muscle weakness and cognitive impairment. We use the terms ‘relapsing and remitting’ in this case report, given the unpredictable time course of symptoms, which led to a delay of 2 years before the correct diagnosis of hypercortisolaemia. Diagnostic workup confirmed ectopic ACTH secretion, and a thymic mass was seen on mediastinal imaging. The patient subsequently underwent thymectomy with complete resolution of her symptoms. Several case series have documented the association of Cushing’s syndrome with thymic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs), although to our knowledge there are a few published cases of patients with relapsing and remitting symptoms. This case is also notable for the absence of features of the MEN-1 syndrome, along with the female gender of our patient and her history of non-smoking.

Learning points

  • Ectopic corticotrophin (ACTH) secretion should always be considered in the diagnostic workup of young patients with Cushing’s syndrome

  • There is a small but growing body of literature describing the correlation between ectopic ACTH secretion and thymic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)

  • The possibility of a MEN-1 syndrome should be considered in all patients with thymic NETs, and we note the observational association with male gender and cigarette smoking in this cohort

  • An exception to these associations is the finding of relatively high incidence of thymic NETs among female non-smoking MEN-1 patients in the Japanese compared with Western populations

  • The relapsing and remitting course of our patient’s symptoms is noteworthy, given the paucity of this finding among other published cases

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Ya-Wun Guo Department of Medicine, Taipei City Hospital, Zhongxing Branch, Taipei, Taiwan
Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

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Chii-Min Hwu Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
Faculty of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan

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Justin Ging-Shing Won Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
Faculty of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan

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Chia-Huei Chu Faculty of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Division of Otology, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

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Liang-Yu Lin Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
Faculty of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan

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Summary

A functional lesion in corticotrophin (ACTH)-independent Cushing’s syndrome is difficult to distinguish from lesions of bilateral adrenal masses. Methods for distinguishing these lesions include adrenal venous sampling and 131I-6β-iodomethyl-19-norcholesterol (131I-NP-59) scintigraphy. We present a case of a 29-year-old Han Chinese female patient with a history of hypercholesterolaemia and polycystic ovary syndrome. She presented with a 6month history of an 8kg body weight gain and gradual rounding of the face. Serial examinations revealed loss of circadian rhythm of cortisol, elevated urinary free-cortisol level and undetectable ACTH level (<5pg/mL). No suppression was observed in both the low- and high-dose dexamethasone suppression tests. Adrenal computed tomography revealed bilateral adrenal masses. Adrenal venous sampling was performed, and the right-to-left lateralisation ratio was 14.29. The finding from adrenal scintigraphy with NP-59 was consistent with right adrenal adenoma. The patient underwent laparoscopic right adrenalectomy, and the pathology report showed adrenocortical adenoma. Her postoperative cortisol level was 3.2μg/dL, and her Cushingoid appearance improved. In sum, both adrenal venous sampling and 131I-NP-59 scintigraphy are good diagnostic methods for Cushing’s syndrome presenting with bilateral adrenal masses.

Learning points

  • The clinical presentation of Cushing’ syndrome includes symptoms and signs of fat redistribution and protein-wasting features.

  • The diagnosis of patients with ACTH-independent Cushing’s syndrome with bilateral adrenal masses is challenging for localisation of the lesion.

  • Both adrenal venous sampling and 131I-NP-59 scintigraphy are good methods to use in these patients with Cushing’s syndrome presenting with bilateral adrenal masses.

Open access