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Open access

Nikolaos Kyriakakis, Jacqueline Trouillas, Mary N Dang, Julie Lynch, Paul Belchetz, Márta Korbonits and Robert D Murray

Summary

A male patient presented at the age of 30 with classic clinical features of acromegaly and was found to have elevated growth hormone levels, not suppressing during an oral glucose tolerance test. His acromegaly was originally considered to be of pituitary origin, based on a CT scan, which was interpreted as showing a pituitary macroadenoma. Despite two trans-sphenoidal surgeries, cranial radiotherapy and periods of treatment with bromocriptine and octreotide, his acromegaly remained active clinically and biochemically. A lung mass was discovered incidentally on a chest X-ray performed as part of a routine pre-assessment for spinal surgery 5 years following the initial presentation. This was confirmed to be a bronchial carcinoid tumour, which was strongly positive for growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) and somatostatin receptor type 2 by immunohistochemistry. The re-examination of the pituitary specimens asserted the diagnosis of pituitary GH hyperplasia. Complete resolution of the patient’s acromegaly was achieved following right lower and middle lobectomy. Seventeen years following the successful resection of the bronchial carcinoid tumour the patient remains under annual endocrine follow-up for monitoring of the hypopituitarism he developed after the original interventions to his pituitary gland, while there has been no evidence of active acromegaly or recurrence of the carcinoid tumour. Ectopic acromegaly is extremely rare, accounting for <1% of all cases of acromegaly. Our case highlights the diagnostic challenges differentiating between ectopic acromegaly and acromegaly of pituitary origin and emphasises the importance of avoiding unnecessary pituitary surgery and radiotherapy. The role of laboratory investigations, imaging and histology as diagnostic tools is discussed.

Learning points:

  • Ectopic acromegaly is rare, accounting for less than 1% of all cases of acromegaly.

  • Ectopic acromegaly is almost always due to extra-pituitary GHRH secretion, mainly from neuroendocrine tumours of pancreatic or bronchial origin.

  • Differentiating between acromegaly of pituitary origin and ectopic acromegaly can cause diagnostic challenges due to similarities in clinical presentation and biochemistry.

  • Serum GHRH can be a useful diagnostic tool to diagnose ectopic acromegaly.

  • Pituitary imaging is crucial to differentiate between a pituitary adenoma and pituitary hyperplasia, which is a common finding in ectopic acromegaly.

  • Diagnosing ectopic acromegaly is pivotal to avoid unnecessary interventions to the pituitary and preserve normal pituitary function.

Open access

Anna Casteràs, Jürgen Kratzsch, Ángel Ferrández, Carles Zafón, Antonio Carrascosa and Jordi Mesa

Summary

Isolated GH deficiency type IA (IGHDIA) is an infrequent cause of severe congenital GHD, often managed by pediatric endocrinologists, and hence few cases in adulthood have been reported. Herein, we describe the clinical status of a 56-year-old male with IGHDIA due to a 6.7 kb deletion in GH1 gene that encodes GH, located on chromosome 17. We also describe phenotypic and biochemical parameters, as well as characterization of anti-GH antibodies after a new attempt made to treat with GH. The height of the adult patient was 123 cm. He presented with type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, osteoporosis, and low physical and psychological performance, compatible with GHD symptomatology. Anti-GH antibodies in high titers and with binding activity (>101 IU/ml) were found 50 years after exposure to exogenous GH, and their levels increased significantly (>200 U/ml) after a 3-month course of 0.2 mg/day recombinant human GH (rhGH) treatment. Higher doses of rhGH (1 mg daily) did not overcome the blockade, and no change in undetectable IGF1 levels was observed (<25 ng/ml). IGHDIA patients need lifelong medical surveillance, focusing mainly on metabolic disturbances, bone status, cardiovascular disease, and psychological support. Multifactorial conventional therapy focusing on each issue is recommended, as anti-GH antibodies may inactivate specific treatment with exogenous GH. After consideration of potential adverse effects, rhIGF1 treatment, even theoretically indicated, has not been considered in our patient yet.

Learning points

  • Severe isolated GHD may be caused by mutations in GH1 gene, mainly a 6.7 kb deletion.

  • Appearance of neutralizing anti-GH antibodies upon recombinant GH treatment is a characteristic feature of IGHDIA.

  • Recombinant human IGF1 treatment has been tested in children with IGHDIA with variable results in height and secondary adverse effects, but any occurrence in adult patients has not been reported yet.

  • Metabolic disturbances (diabetes and hyperlipidemia) and osteoporosis should be monitored and properly treated to minimize cardiovascular disease and fracture risk.

  • Cerebral magnetic resonance imaging should be repeated in adulthood to detect morphological abnormalities that may have developed with time, as well as pituitary hormones periodically assessed.