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Wei Yang Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine

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David Pham Department of Radiology, University of California Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California, USA

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Aren T Vierra Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine

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Sarah Azam Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine

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Dorina Gui Department of Pathology, University of California Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California, USA

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John C Yoon Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine

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Summary

Ectopic ACTH-secreting pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors are rare and account for less than 5% of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome cases. We describe an unusual case of metastatic bronchial carcinoid tumor in a young woman presenting with unprovoked pulmonary emboli, which initially prevented the detection of the primary tumor on imaging. The source of ectopic ACTH was ultimately localized by a Gallium-DOTATATE scan, which demonstrated increased tracer uptake in a right middle lobe lung nodule and multiple liver nodules. The histological diagnosis was established based on a core biopsy of a hepatic lesion and the patient was started on a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist and a somatostatin analog. This case illustrates that hypercogulability can further aggravate the diagnostic challenges in ectopic ACTH syndrome. We discuss the literature on the current diagnosis and management strategies for ectopic ACTH syndrome.

Learning points:

  • In a young patient with concurrent hypokalemia and uncontrolled hypertension on multiple antihypertensive agents, secondary causes of hypertension should be evaluated.

  • Patients with Cushing’s syndrome can develop an acquired hypercoagulable state leading to spontaneous and postoperative venous thromboembolism.

  • Pulmonary emboli may complicate the imaging of the bronchial carcinoid tumor in ectopic ACTH syndrome.

  • Imaging with Gallium-68 DOTATATE PET/CT scan has the highest sensitivity and specificity in detecting ectopic ACTH-secreting tumors.

  • A combination of various noninvasive biochemical tests can enhance the diagnostic accuracy in differentiating Cushing’s disease from ectopic ACTH syndrome provided they have concordant results. Bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling remains the gold standard.

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Teresa M Canteros Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nuclear Medicine, Hospital Italinao de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Valeria De Miguel Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nuclear Medicine, Hospital Italinao de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Patricia Fainstein-Day Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nuclear Medicine, Hospital Italinao de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Summary

Severe Cushing syndrome (SCS) is considered an emergency that requires immediate treatment to lower serum cortisol levels. Fluconazole may be considered an alternative treatment in Cushing syndrome when ketoconazole is not tolerated or unavailable. We report a 39-year-old woman with a history of partial pancreaticoduodenectomy due to a periampullary neuroendocrine tumor with locoregional extension. Three years after surgery, she developed liver metastases and was started on 120 mg of lanreotide/month, despite which, liver metastases progressed in the following 6 months. The patient showed extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, delirium, moon face, hirsutism and severe proximal weakness. Laboratory tests showed anemia, hyperglycemia and severe hypokalemia. 24-h urinary free cortisol: 2152 nmol/day (reference range (RR): <276), morning serum cortisol 4883.4 nmol/L (RR: 138–690), ACTH 127.3 pmol/L (RR: 2.2–10). She was diagnosed with ectopic ACTH syndrome (EAS). On admission, she presented with acute upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding and hemodynamic instability. Intravenous fluconazole 400 mg/day was started. After 48 h, her mental state improved and morning cortisol decreased by 25%. The dose was titrated to 600 mg/day which resulted in a 55% decrease in cortisol levels in 1 week, but then had to be decreased to 400 mg/day because transaminase levels increased over 3 times the upper normal level. After 18 days of treatment, hemodynamic stability, lower cortisol levels and better overall clinical status enabled successful bilateral adrenalectomy. This case report shows that intravenous fluconazole effectively decreased cortisol levels in SCS due to EAS.

Learning points:

  • Severe Cushing syndrome can be effectively treated with fluconazole to achieve a significant improvement of hypercortisolism prior to bilateral adrenalectomy.

  • Intravenous fluconazole is an alternative treatment when ketoconazole is not tolerated and etomidate is not available.

  • Fluconazole is well tolerated with mild side effects. Hepatotoxicity is usually mild and resolves after drug discontinuation.

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Yoko Olmedilla Endocrinology and Nutrition Service, Gregorio Marañón General Universitary Hospital, Madrid, Spain

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Shoaib Khan Oxford Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, UK

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Victoria Young Departments of Neuroradiology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK

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Robin Joseph Departments of Neuroradiology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK

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Simon Cudlip Departments of Neurosurgery, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK

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Olaf Ansgorge Departments of Neuropathology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK

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Ashley Grossman Oxford Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, UK

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Aparna Pal Oxford Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, UK

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Summary

A 21 year-old woman was found to have a pituitary macroadenoma following an episode of haemophilus meningitis. Biochemical TSH and GH excess was noted, although with no clear clinical correlates. She was treated with a somatostatin analogue (SSA), which restored the euthyroid state and controlled GH hypersecretion, but she re-presented with a further episode of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak and recurrent meningitis. Histology following transsphenoidal adenomectomy revealed a Pit-1 lineage plurihormonal adenoma expressing GH, TSH and PRL. Such plurihormonal pituitary tumours are uncommon and even more unusual to present with spontaneous bacterial meningitis. The second episode of CSF leak and meningitis appears to have been due to SSA therapy-induced tumour shrinkage, which is not a well-described phenomenon in the literature for this type of tumour.

Learning points:

  • Pit-1 lineage GH/TSH/PRL-expressing plurihormonal pituitary adenomas are uncommon. Moreover, this case is unique as the patient first presented with bacterial meningitis.

  • Inmunohistochemical plurihormonality of pituitary adenomas does not necessarily correlate with biochemical and clinical features of hormonal hypersecretion.

  • Given that plurihormonal Pit-1 lineage adenomas may behave more aggressively than classical pituitary adenomas, accurate pathological characterization of these tumours has an increasing prognostic relevance.

  • Although unusual, a CSF leak and meningitis may be precipitated by SSA therapy of a pituitary macroadenoma via tumour shrinkage.

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Michal Barabas Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Isabel Huang-Doran Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, UK

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Debbie Pitfield Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Hazel Philips Department of Cardiology, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Bedford, UK

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Manoj Goonewardene Department of Cardiology, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Bedford, UK

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Ruth T Casey Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Benjamin G Challis Wolfson Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
IMED Biotech Unit, Clinical Discovery Unit, AstraZeneca, Cambridge, UK

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Summary

A 67-year-old woman presented with a generalised rash associated with weight loss and resting tachycardia. She had a recent diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. Biochemical evaluation revealed elevated levels of circulating glucagon and chromogranin B. Cross-sectional imaging demonstrated a pancreatic lesion and liver metastases, which were octreotide-avid. Biopsy of the liver lesion confirmed a diagnosis of well-differentiated grade 2 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour, consistent with metastatic glucagonoma. Serial echocardiography commenced 4 years before this diagnosis demonstrated a progressive left ventricular dilatation and dysfunction in the absence of ischaemia, suggestive of glucagonoma-associated dilated cardiomyopathy. Given the severity of the cardiac impairment, surgical management was considered inappropriate and somatostatin analogue therapy was initiated, affecting clinical and biochemical improvement. Serial cross-sectional imaging demonstrated stable disease 2 years after diagnosis. Left ventricular dysfunction persisted, however, despite somatostatin analogue therapy and optimal medical management of cardiac failure. In contrast to previous reports, the case we describe demonstrates that chronic hyperglucagonaemia may lead to irreversible left ventricular compromise. Management of glucagonoma therefore requires careful and serial evaluation of cardiac status.

Learning points:

  • In rare cases, glucagonoma may present with cardiac failure as the dominant feature. Significant cardiac impairment may occur in the absence of other features of glucagonoma syndrome due to subclinical chronic hyperglucagonaemia.

  • A diagnosis of glucagonoma should be considered in patients with non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy, particularly those with other features of glucagonoma syndrome.

  • Cardiac impairment due to glucagonoma may not respond to somatostatin analogue therapy, even in the context of biochemical improvement.

  • All patients with a new diagnosis of glucagonoma should be assessed clinically for evidence of cardiac failure and, if present, a baseline transthoracic echocardiogram should be performed. In the presence of cardiac impairment these patients should be managed by an experienced cardiologist.

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Saurabh Uppal Departments of Paediatric Endocrinology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK

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James Blackburn Departments of Paediatric Endocrinology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK

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Mohammed Didi Departments of Paediatric Endocrinology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK

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Rajeev Shukla Departments of Pathology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK

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James Hayden Departments of Oncology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK

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Senthil Senniappan Departments of Paediatric Endocrinology, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK
Institute of Child Health, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

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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.

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Sarah Kiff Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, UK
Department of Endocrinology, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, UK

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Carolyn Babb Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, UK

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Maria Guemes Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, UK
Genetics and Genomic Medicine Programme, Great Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK

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Antonia Dastamani Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, UK

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Clare Gilbert Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, UK

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Sarah E Flanagan Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK

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Sian Ellard Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK

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John Barton Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Bristol, UK

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M Dattani Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, UK
Genetics and Genomic Medicine Programme, Great Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK

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Pratik Shah Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, UK
Genetics and Genomic Medicine Programme, Great Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK

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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
Athanasios Fountas Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners, Birmingham, UK
Departments of Endocrinology and Radiology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Shu Teng Chai Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners, Birmingham, UK
Departments of Endocrinology and Radiology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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John Ayuk Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners, Birmingham, UK
Departments of Endocrinology and Radiology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Neil Gittoes Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners, Birmingham, UK
Departments of Endocrinology and Radiology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Swarupsinh Chavda Departments of Radiology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Niki Karavitaki Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Birmingham Health Partners, Birmingham, UK
Departments of Endocrinology and Radiology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Summary

Co-existence of craniopharyngioma and acromegaly has been very rarely reported. A 65-year-old man presented with visual deterioration, fatigue and frontal headaches. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a suprasellar heterogeneous, mainly cystic, 1.9 × 2 × 1.9 cm mass compressing the optic chiasm and expanding to the third ventricle; the findings were consistent with a craniopharyngioma. Pituitary hormone profile showed hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, mildly elevated prolactin, increased insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and normal thyroid function and cortisol reserve. The patient had transsphenoidal surgery and pathology of the specimen was diagnostic of adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma. Post-operatively, he had diabetes insipidus, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and adrenocorticotropic hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone deficiency. Despite the hypopituitarism, his IGF-1 levels remained elevated and subsequent oral glucose tolerance test did not show complete growth hormone (GH) suppression. Further review of the pre-operative imaging revealed a 12 × 4 mm pituitary adenoma close to the right carotid artery and no signs of pituitary hyperplasia. At that time, he was also diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the left upper lung lobe finally managed with radical radiotherapy. Treatment with long-acting somatostatin analogue was initiated leading to biochemical control of the acromegaly. Latest imaging has shown no evidence of craniopharyngioma regrowth and stable adenoma. This is a unique case report of co-existence of craniopharyngioma, acromegaly and squamous lung cell carcinoma that highlights diagnostic and management challenges. Potential effects of the GH hypersecretion on the co-existent tumours of this patient are also briefly discussed.

Learning points:

  • Although an extremely rare clinical scenario, craniopharyngioma and acromegaly can co-exist; aetiopathogenic link between these two conditions is unlikely.

  • Meticulous review of unexpected biochemical findings is vital for correct diagnosis of dual pituitary pathology.

  • The potential adverse impact of GH excess due to acromegaly in a patient with craniopharyngioma (and other neoplasm) mandates adequate biochemical control of the GH hypersecretion.

Open access
W K M G Amarawardena Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Department of Endocrinology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

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K D Liyanarachchi Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Department of Endocrinology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

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J D C Newell-Price Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Department of Endocrinology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

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R J M Ross Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

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D Iacovazzo Centre for Endocrinology, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

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M Debono Department of Endocrinology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

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Summary

The granulation pattern of somatotroph adenomas is well known to be associated with differing clinical and biochemical characteristics, and it has been shown that sparsely granulated tumours respond poorly to commonly used somatostatin receptor ligands (SRLs). We report a challenging case of acromegaly with a sparsely granulated tumour resistant to multiple modalities of treatment, ultimately achieving biochemical control with pasireotide. A 26-year-old lady presented with classical features of acromegaly, which was confirmed by an oral glucose tolerance test. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) was 1710 µg/L (103–310 µg/L) and mean growth hormone (GH) was >600 U/L. MRI scan showed a 4 cm pituitary macroadenoma with suprasellar extension and right-sided cavernous sinus invasion. She underwent trans-sphenoidal pituitary surgery. Histology displayed moderate amounts of sparsely granular eosinophilic cytoplasm, staining only for GH. Postoperative investigations showed uncontrolled disease (IGF1:1474 µg/L, mean GH:228 U/L) and residual tumour in the cavernous sinus. She received external beam fractionated radiation. Over the years, she received octreotide LAR (up to 30 mg), lanreotide (up to 120 mg) two weekly, cabergoline, pegvisomant and stereotactic radiosurgery to no avail. Only pegvisomant resulted in an element of disease control; however, this had to be stopped due to abnormal liver function tests. Fifteen years after the diagnosis, she was started on pasireotide 40 mg monthly. Within a month, her IGF1 dropped and has remained within the normal range (103–310 µg/L). Pasireotide has been well tolerated, and there has been significant clinical improvement. Somatostatin receptor subtyping revealed a positivity score of two for both sst5 and sst2a subtypes.

Learning points:

  • Age, size of the tumour, GH levels on presentation, histopathological type and the somatostatin receptor status of the tumour in acromegaly should be reviewed in patients who poorly respond to first-generation somatostatin receptor ligands.

  • Tumours that respond poorly to first-generation somatostatin receptor ligands, especially sparsely granulated somatotroph adenomas, can respond to pasireotide and treatment should be considered early in the management of resistant tumours.

  • Patients with membranous expression of sst5 are likely to be more responsive to pasireotide.

Open access
Cristina Alvarez-Escola Department of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Hospital Universitario La Paz, Madrid, Spain

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Jersy Cardenas-Salas Department of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Hospital Universitario La Paz, Madrid, Spain

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Summary

In patients with active acromegaly after pituitary surgery, somatostatin analogues are effective in controlling the disease and can even be curative in some cases. After treatment discontinuation, the likelihood of disease recurrence is high. However, a small subset of patients remains symptom-free after discontinuation, with normalized growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF1) levels. The characteristics of patients most likely to achieve sustained remission after treatment discontinuation are not well understood, although limited evidence suggests that sustained remission is more likely in patients with lower GH and IGF1 levels before treatment withdrawal, in those who respond well to low-dose treatment, in those without evidence of adenoma on an MRI scan and/or in patients who receive long-term treatment. In this report, we describe the case of a 56-year-old female patient treated with lanreotide Autogel for 11 years. Treatment was successfully discontinued, and the patient is currently disease-free on all relevant parameters (clinical, biochemical and tumour status). The successful outcome in this case adds to the small body of literature suggesting that some well-selected patients who receive long-term treatment with somatostatin analogues may achieve sustained remission.

Learning points:

  • The probability of disease recurrence is high after discontinuation of treatment with somatostatin analogues.

  • Current data indicate that remission after treatment discontinuation may be more likely in patients with low GH and IGF1 levels before treatment withdrawal, in those who respond well to low-dose treatment, in those without evidence of adenoma on MRI, and/or in patients receiving prolonged treatment.

  • This case report suggests that prolonged treatment with somatostatin analogues can be curative in carefully selected patients.

Open access
Benjamin G Challis Wellcome Trust–MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK
Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinic, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrookes Hospital, Box 281, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Nicolai J Wewer Albrechtsen Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark

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Vishakha Bansiya Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinic, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrookes Hospital, Box 281, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Keith Burling Wellcome Trust–MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Peter Barker Wellcome Trust–MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Bolette Hartmann Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark

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Fiona Gribble Wellcome Trust–MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Stephen O'Rahilly Wellcome Trust–MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK
Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinic, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrookes Hospital, Box 281, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Jens J Holst Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, Copenhagen, DK-2200, Denmark

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Helen L Simpson Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinic, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrookes Hospital, Box 281, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK

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Summary

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (pNETs) secreting proglucagon are associated with phenotypic heterogeneity. Here, we describe two patients with pNETs and varied clinical phenotypes due to differential processing and secretion of proglucagon-derived peptides (PGDPs). Case 1, a 57-year-old woman presented with necrolytic migratory erythema, anorexia, constipation and hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia. She was found to have a grade 1 pNET, small bowel mucosal thickening and hyperglucagonaemia. Somatostatin analogue (SSA) therapy improved appetite, abolished hypoglycaemia and improved the rash. Case 2, a 48-year-old male presented with diabetes mellitus, diarrhoea, weight loss, nausea, vomiting and perineal rash due to a grade 1 metastatic pNET and hyperglucagonaemia. In both cases, plasma levels of all measured PGDPs were elevated and attenuated following SSA therapy. In case 1, there was increased production of intact glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and GLP-2, similar to that of the enteroendocrine L cell. In case 2, pancreatic glucagon was elevated due to a pancreatic α-cell-like proglucagon processing profile. In summary, we describe two patients with pNETs and heterogeneous clinical phenotypes due to differential processing and secretion of PGDPs. This is the first description of a patient with symptomatic hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia and marked gastrointestinal dysfunction due to, in part, a proglucagon-expressing pNET.

Learning points

  • PGDPs exhibit a diverse range of biological activities including critical roles in glucose and amino acid metabolism, energy homeostasis and gastrointestinal physiology.

  • The clinical manifestations of proglucagon-expressing tumours may exhibit marked phenotypic variation due to the biochemical heterogeneity of their secreted peptide repertoire.

  • Specific and precise biochemical assessment of individuals with proglucagon-expressing tumours may provide opportunities for improved diagnosis and clinical management.

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