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Open access

Osamah A Hakami, Julia Ioana, Shahzad Ahmad, Tommy Kyaw Tun, Seamus Sreenan and John H McDermott

Summary

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have revolutionised cancer therapy and improved outcomes for patients with advanced disease. Pembrolizumab, a monoclonal antibody that acts as a programmed cell death 1 (PD-1(PDCD1)) inhibitor, has been approved for the treatment of advanced melanoma and other solid tumours. Immune-related adverse events (irAEs) including endocrinopathies have been well described with this and other PD-1 inhibitors. While hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, and less commonly hypophysitis, are the most common endocrinopathies occurring in patients treated with pembrolizumab, the incidence of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) was low in clinical trials. We report a case of pembrolizumab-induced primary hypothyroidism and T1DM presenting with severe diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). A 52-year-old male patient was treated with pembrolizumab for metastatic melanoma. He presented to the emergency department with a 1-day history of nausea and vomiting 2 weeks after his seventh dose of pembrolizumab, having complained of polyuria and polydipsia for 2 months before presentation. He had been diagnosed with thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibody-negative hypothyroidism, requiring thyroxine replacement, shortly after his fifth dose. Testing revealed a severe DKA (pH: 6.99, glucose: 38.6 mmol/L, capillary ketones: 4.9 and anion gap: 34.7). He was treated in the intensive care unit as per the institutional protocol, and subsequently transitioned to subcutaneous basal-bolus insulin. After his diabetes and thyroid stabilised, pembrolizumab was recommenced to treat his advanced melanoma given his excellent response. This case highlights the importance of blood glucose monitoring as an integral part of cancer treatment protocols composed of pembrolizumab and other ICIs.

Learning points:

  • The incidence of T1DM with pembrolizumab treatment is being increasingly recognised and reported, and DKA is a common initial presentation.

  • Physicians should counsel patients about this potential irAE and educate them about the symptoms of hyperglycaemia and DKA.

  • The ESMO guidelines recommend regular monitoring of blood glucose in patients treated with ICIs, a recommendation needs to be incorporated into cancer treatment protocols for pembrolizumab and other ICIs in order to detect hyperglycaemia early and prevent DKA.

Open access

Suguru Watanabe, Jun Kido, Mika Ogata, Kimitoshi Nakamura and Tomoyuki Mizukami

Summary

Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state (HHS) and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) are the most severe acute complications of diabetes mellitus (DM). HHS is characterized by severe hyperglycemia and hyperosmolality without significant ketosis and acidosis. A 14-year-old Japanese boy presented at the emergency room with lethargy, polyuria and polydipsia. He belonged to a baseball club team and habitually drank sugar-rich beverages daily. Three weeks earlier, he suffered from lassitude and developed polyuria and polydipsia 1 week later. He had been drinking more sugar-rich isotonic sports drinks (approximately 1000–1500 mL/day) than usual (approximately 500 mL/day). He presented with HHS (hyperglycemia (1010 mg/dL, HbA1c 12.3%) and mild hyperosmolality (313 mOsm/kg)) without acidosis (pH 7.360), severe ketosis (589 μmol/L) and ketonuria. He presented HHS in type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) with elevated glutamate decarboxylase antibody and islet antigen 2 antibody. Consuming beverages with high sugar concentrations caused hyperglycemia and further exacerbates thirst, resulting in further beverage consumption. Although he recovered from HHS following intensive transfusion and insulin treatment, he was significantly sensitive to insulin therapy. Even the appropriate amount of insulin may result in dramatically decreasing blood sugar levels in patients with T1DM. We should therefore suspect T1DM in patients with HHS but not those with obesity. Moreover, age, clinical history and body type are helpful for identifying T1DM and HHS. Specifically, drinking an excess of beverages rich in sugars represents a risk of HHS in juvenile/adolescent T1DM patients.

Learning points:

  • Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state (HHS) is characterized by severe hyperglycemia and hyperosmolality without significant ketosis and acidosis.

  • The discrimination between HHS of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in initial presentation is difficult.

  • Pediatrician should suspect T1DM in patients with HHS but not obesity.

  • Age, clinical history and body type are helpful for identifying T1DM and HHS.

  • Children with T1DM are very sensitive to insulin treatment, and even appropriate amount of insulin may result in dramatically decreasing blood sugar levels.

Open access

Saurabh Uppal, James Blackburn, Mohammed Didi, Rajeev Shukla, James Hayden and Senthil Senniappan

Summary

Beckwith–Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) can be associated with embryonal tumours and congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI). We present an infant with BWS who developed congenital hepatoblastoma and Wilms’ tumour during infancy. The infant presented with recurrent hypoglycaemia requiring high intravenous glucose infusion and was biochemically confirmed to have CHI. He was resistant to diazoxide but responded well to octreotide and was switched to Lanreotide at 1 year of age. Genetic analysis for mutations of ABCC8 and KCNJ11 were negative. He had clinical features suggestive of BWS. Methylation-sensitive multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification revealed hypomethylation at KCNQ1OT1:TSS-DMR and hypermethylation at H19 /IGF2:IG-DMR consistent with mosaic UPD(11p15). Hepatoblastoma was detected on day 4 of life, which was resistant to chemotherapy, requiring surgical resection. He developed Wilms’ tumour at 3 months of age, which also showed poor response to induction chemotherapy with vincristine and actinomycin D. Surgical resection of Wilms’ tumour was followed by post-operative chemotherapy intensified with cycles containing cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, carboplatin and etoposide, in addition to receiving flank radiotherapy. We report, for the first time, an uncommon association of hepatoblastoma and Wilms’ tumour in BWS in early infancy. Early onset tumours may show resistance to chemotherapy. UPD(11p15) is likely associated with persistent CHI in BWS.

Learning points:

  • Long-acting somatostatin analogues are effective in managing persistent CHI in BWS.

  • UPD(11)pat genotype may be a pointer to persistent and severe CHI.

  • Hepatoblastoma and Wilms’ tumour may have an onset within early infancy and early tumour surveillance is essential.

  • Tumours associated with earlier onset may be resistant to recognised first-line chemotherapy.

Open access

Lima Lawrence, Peng Zhang, Humberto Choi, Usman Ahmad, Valeria Arrossi, Andrei Purysko and Vinni Makin

Summary

Ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) production leading to ectopic ACTH syndrome accounts for a small proportion of all Cushing’s syndrome (CS) cases. Thymic neuroendocrine tumors are rare neoplasms that may secrete ACTH leading to rapid development of hypercortisolism causing electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities, uncontrolled hypertension and an increased risk for opportunistic infections. We present a unique case of a patient who presented with a mediastinal mass, revealed to be an ACTH-secreting thymic neuroendocrine tumor (NET) causing ectopic CS. As the diagnosis of CS from ectopic ACTH syndrome (EAS) remains challenging, we emphasize the necessity for high clinical suspicion in the appropriate setting, concordance between biochemical, imaging and pathology findings, along with continued vigilant monitoring for recurrence after definitive treatment.

Learning points:

  • Functional thymic neuroendocrine tumors are exceedingly rare.

  • Ectopic Cushing’s syndrome secondary to thymic neuroendocrine tumors secreting ACTH present with features of hypercortisolism including electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities, uncontrolled hypertension and hyperglycemia, and opportunistic infections.

  • The ability to undergo surgery and completeness of resection are the strongest prognostic factors for improved overall survival; however, the recurrence rate remains high.

  • A high degree of initial clinical suspicion followed by vigilant monitoring is required for patients with this challenging disease.

Open access

Sarah Kiff, Carolyn Babb, Maria Guemes, Antonia Dastamani, Clare Gilbert, Sarah E Flanagan, Sian Ellard, John Barton, M Dattani and Pratik Shah

Summary

We report a case of partial diazoxide responsiveness in a child with severe congenital hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (CHI) due to a homozygous ABCC8 mutation. A term baby, with birth weight 3.8 kg, born to consanguineous parents presented on day 1 of life with hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemia screen confirmed CHI. Diazoxide was commenced on day 7 due to ongoing elevated glucose requirements (15 mg/kg/min), but despite escalation to a maximum dose (15 mg/kg/day), intravenous (i.v.) glucose requirement remained high (13 mg/kg/min). Genetic testing demonstrated a homozygous ABCC8 splicing mutation (c.2041-1G>C), consistent with a diffuse form of CHI. Diazoxide treatment was therefore stopped and subcutaneous (s.c.) octreotide infusion commenced. Despite this, s.c. glucagon and i.v. glucose were required to prevent hypoglycaemia. A trial of sirolimus and near-total pancreatectomy were considered, however due to the significant morbidity potentially associated with these, a further trial of diazoxide was commenced at 1.5 months of age. At a dose of 10 mg/kg/day of diazoxide and 40 µg/kg/day of octreotide, both i.v. glucose and s.c. glucagon were stopped as normoglycaemia was achieved. CHI due to homozygous ABCC8 mutation poses management difficulties if the somatostatin analogue octreotide is insufficient to prevent hypoglycaemia. Diazoxide unresponsiveness is often thought to be a hallmark of recessively inherited ABCC8 mutations. This patient was initially thought to be non-responsive, but this case highlights that a further trial of diazoxide is warranted, where other available treatments are associated with significant risk of morbidity.

Learning points:

  • Homozygous ABCC8 mutations are commonly thought to cause diazoxide non-responsive hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia.

  • This case highlights that partial diazoxide responsiveness in homozygous ABCC8 mutations may be present.

  • Trial of diazoxide treatment in combination with octreotide is warranted prior to considering alternative treatments, such as sirolimus or near-total pancreatectomy, which are associated with more significant side effects.

Open access

A Veltroni, G Zambon, S Cingarlini and M V Davì

Summary

Insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS), a rare cause of autoimmune hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia, is relatively well known in Japan. The incidence in Caucasians is less than one-fifth of that reported in Japanese people, but it is becoming increasingly recognised worldwide in non-Asians as well. Drugs containing sulphydryl groups are known to be associated with the disease in genetically predisposed individuals. Moreover, several recent reports showed a direct association between the onset of IAS and the consumption of dietary supplements containing alpha-lipoic acid (LA). Insulinoma remains the most prevalent cause of hypersulinaemic hypoglycaemia in Caucasians. Consequently, primary investigation in these patients is generally focused on localisation of the pancreatic tumour, often with invasive procedures followed by surgery. We described a case of an Italian woman presenting to us with severe recurrent hypoglycaemia associated with high insulin and C-peptide levels and no evidence of pancreatic lesions at imaging diagnostic procedures. She had taken LA until 2 weeks before hospitalisation. After an evaluation of her drug history, an autoimmune form of hypoglycaemia was suspected and the titre of insulin autoantibodies was found to be markedly elevated. This allowed us to diagnose LA-related IAS, thus preventing any unnecessary surgery and avoiding invasive diagnostic interventions.

Learning points:

  • IAS is a rare cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia that typically affects Asian population, but it has been increasingly recognised in Caucasian patients.

  • It should be considered among the differential diagnosis of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia to avoid unnecessary diagnostic investigations and surgery.

  • It should be suspected in the presence of very high serum insulin levels (100–10  000  μU/mL) associated with high C-peptide levels.

  • There is a strong association with administration of drugs containing sulphydryl groups included LA, a dietary supplement commonly used in Western countries to treat peripheral neuropathy.

Open access

D Cappellani, C Sardella, M C Campopiano, A Falorni, P Marchetti and E Macchia

Summary

Insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS), or Hirata disease, is a rare hypoglycaemic disorder caused by the presence of high titer of insulin autoantibodies (IAA) in patients without previous exposure to exogenous insulin. Even though its pathogenesis is not fully understood, striking evidences link IAS to previous exposure to sulphydryl-containing medications, like alpha-lipoic acid, a widely used nutritional supplement. Although challenging, a careful differential diagnosis from other causes of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (such as insulinoma) is mandatory, since these conditions require different therapeutic approaches. In the present study, we report a 35-year-old woman originally from Sri Lanka who was referred to our University Hospital on suspicion of occult insulinoma. Her medical history was positive for endometriosis, treated with estroprogestins and alpha-lipoic acid. The latter supplement was begun 2 weeks before the first hypoglycaemic episode. Our tests confirmed the presence of hypoglycaemia associated with high insulin and C-peptide concentrations. When insulin concentrations were compared using different assays, the results were significantly different. Moreover, insulin values significantly decreased after precipitation with polyethylene glycol. An assay for IAA proved positive (530 U/mL). A genetic analysis revealed the presence of HLA-DRB1*04,15, an immunogenetic determinant associated with IAS. On the basis of clinical data we avoided a first-line approach with immunosuppressive treatments, and the patient was advised to modify her diet, with the introduction of frequent low-caloric meals. During follow-up evaluations, glucose levels (registered trough a flash glucose monitoring system) resulted progressively more stable. IAA titer progressively decreased, being undetectable by the fifteenth month, thus indicating the remission of the IAS.

Learning points:

  • Insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS) is a rare cause of hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia, whose prevalence is higher in East Asian populations due to the higher prevalence of specific immunogenetic determinants. Nevertheless, an increasing number of IAS cases is being reported worldwide, due to the wide diffusion of medications such as alpha-lipoic acid.

  • Differential diagnosis of IAS from other causes of hyperinsulinemic hypoglycaemia is challenging. Even though many tests can be suggestive of IAS, the gold standard remains the detection of IAAs, despite that dedicated commercial kits are not widely available.

  • The therapeutic approach to IAS is problematic. As a matter of fact IAS is often a self-remitting disease, but sometimes needs aggressive immunosuppression. The benefits and risks of any therapeutic choice should be carefully weighted and tailored on the single patient.

Open access

Miriam Hinaa Ahmad and Ismat Shafiq

Summary

We report a case of a 21-year-old African American female with history of pre-diabetes, and a diagnosis of a rare leukemia, blastic-plasmacytoid dendritic neoplasm (BPDCN), who developed diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) after the third dose of PEG-asparaginase infusion. She was successfully treated with insulin. Asparaginase is a vital part of treatment protocols for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in combination with other chemotherapeutic drugs. Asparaginase therapy has been reported to cause hyperglycemia especially when used in conjunction with glucocorticoids for the treatment of ALL in the pediatric population. Multiple mechanisms for hyperglycemia have been hypothesized which include decreased insulin secretion, impaired insulin receptor function and excess glucagon formation. Hyperglycemia is usually self-limiting but can deteriorate to diabetic ketoacidosis. DKA is a rare adverse effect with asparaginase therapy with an incidence rate of about 0.8%.

Learning points:

  • DKA is a rare finding following asparaginase therapy.

  • Hyperglycemia is most commonly seen with asparaginase treatment when used along with glucocorticoid.

  • Frequent blood glucose monitoring and prompt initiation of insulin treatment with hyperglycemia can prevent severe complications.

  • Patients and physician education on this complication can reduce morbidity due to DKA.

Open access

Xin Chen, Dina Kamel, Braden Barnett, Evan Yung, Adrienne Quinn and Caroline Nguyen

Summary

There has been an increasing awareness of post gastric bypass hypoglycemia (PGBH). Histopathologic findings from such patients who underwent partial/total pancreatomy, however, can vary widely from minimal changes to classic nesidioblastosis, making the pathologic diagnosis challenging. PGBH typically presents as postprandial hypoglycemia, as opposed to insulinoma, which presents as fasting hypoglycemia. Herein, we describe an unusual case of a patient with PGBH who initially presented with postprandial hypoglycemia three years after surgery, but later developed fasting hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia as the disease progressed. Our hypothesis for this phenomenon is that this disease is progressive, and later in its course, the insulin release becomes dissociated from food stimulation and is increased at baseline. Future studies are needed to investigate the prevalence as well as etiology of this progression from postprandial to fasting hypoglycemia.

Learning points:

  • There has been an increasing awareness of post gastric bypass hypoglycemia (PGBH).

  • Histopathologically, PGBH can vary from minimal changes to nesidioblastosis.

  • Although uncommon, patients with PGBH after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass may present with both postprandial and fasting hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia as disease progresses.

  • Our hypothesis for this phenomenon is that the insulin release becomes dissociated from food stimulation and is increased at baseline with disease progression.

Open access

Ming Li Yee, Rosemary Wong, Mineesh Datta, Timothy Nicholas Fazio, Mina Mohammad Ebrahim, Elissa Claire Mcnamara, Gerard De Jong and Christopher Gilfillan

Summary

Mitochondrial diseases are rare, heterogeneous conditions affecting organs dependent on high aerobic metabolism. Presenting symptoms and signs vary depending on the mutation and mutant protein load. Diabetes mellitus is the most common endocrinopathy, and recognition of these patients is important due to its impact on management and screening of family members. In particular, glycemic management differs in these patients: the use of metformin is avoided because of the risk of lactic acidosis. We describe a patient who presented with gradual weight loss and an acute presentation of hyperglycemia complicated by the superior mesenteric artery syndrome. His maternal history of diabetes and deafness and a personal history of hearing impairment led to the diagnosis of a mitochondrial disorder.

Learning points:

  • The constellation of diabetes, multi-organ involvement and maternal inheritance should prompt consideration of a mitochondrial disorder.

  • Mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, stroke-like episodes (MELAS) and maternally inherited diabetes and deafness (MIDD) are the most common mitochondrial diabetes disorders caused by a mutation in m.3243A>G in 80% of cases.

  • Metformin should be avoided due to the risk of lactic acidosis.

  • There is more rapid progression to insulin therapy and higher prevalence of diabetic complications compared to type 2 diabetes.

  • Diagnosis of a mitochondrial disorder leads to family screening, education and surveillance for future complications.

  • Superior mesenteric artery syndrome, an uncommon but important cause of intestinal pseudo-obstruction in cases of significant weight loss, has been reported in MELAS patients.