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Agnieszka Łebkowska Department of Internal Medicine and Metabolic Diseases, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Anna Krentowska Department of Internal Medicine and Metabolic Diseases, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Agnieszka Adamska Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Danuta Lipińska Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Beata Piasecka Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Otylia Kowal-Bielecka Department of Rheumatology and Internal Diseases, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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Maria Górska Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Robert K Semple Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

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Irina Kowalska Department of Internal Medicine and Metabolic Diseases, Diabetology and Internal Medicine

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Summary

Type B insulin resistance syndrome (TBIR) is characterised by the rapid onset of severe insulin resistance due to circulating anti-insulin receptor antibodies (AIRAs). Widespread acanthosis nigricans is normally seen, and co-occurrence with other autoimmune diseases is common. We report a 27-year-old Caucasian man with psoriasis and connective tissue disease who presented with unexplained rapid weight loss, severe acanthosis nigricans, and hyperglycaemia punctuated by fasting hypoglycaemia. Severe insulin resistance was confirmed by hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic clamping, and immunoprecipitation assay demonstrated AIRAs, confirming TBIR. Treatment with corticosteroids, metformin and hydroxychloroquine allowed withdrawal of insulin therapy, with stabilisation of glycaemia and diminished signs of insulin resistance; however, morning fasting hypoglycaemic episodes persisted. Over three years of follow-up, metabolic control remained satisfactory on a regimen of metformin, hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate; however, psoriatic arthritis developed. This case illustrates TBIR as a rare but severe form of acquired insulin resistance and describes an effective multidisciplinary approach to treatment.

Learning points:

  • We describe an unusual case of type B insulin resistance syndrome (TBIR) in association with mixed connective tissue disease and psoriasis.

  • Clinical evidence of severe insulin resistance was corroborated by euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic clamp, and anti-insulin receptor autoantibodies were confirmed by immunoprecipitation assay.

  • Treatment with metformin, hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate ameliorated extreme insulin resistance.

Open access
Silvia M Becerra-Bayona Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga – UNAB, Bucaramanga, Colombia

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Víctor Alfonso Solarte-David Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga – UNAB, Bucaramanga, Colombia

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Claudia L Sossa Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga – UNAB, Bucaramanga, Colombia
Banco Multitejidos y Centro de Terapias Avanzadas, Fundación Oftalmológica de Santander, Clínica Carlos Ardila Lulle – FOSCAL, Floridablanca, Colombia

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Ligia C Mateus Fundación Oftalmológica de Santander, Clínica Carlos Ardila Lulle – FOSCAL, Floridablanca, Colombia

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Martha Villamil Fundación Oftalmológica de Santander, Clínica Carlos Ardila Lulle – FOSCAL, Floridablanca, Colombia

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Jorge Pereira Banco Multitejidos y Centro de Terapias Avanzadas, Fundación Oftalmológica de Santander, Clínica Carlos Ardila Lulle – FOSCAL, Floridablanca, Colombia

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Martha L Arango-Rodríguez Banco Multitejidos y Centro de Terapias Avanzadas, Fundación Oftalmológica de Santander, Clínica Carlos Ardila Lulle – FOSCAL, Floridablanca, Colombia

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Summary

Diabetic foot ulcer morbidity and mortality are dramatically increasing worldwide, reinforcing the urgency to propose more effective interventions to treat such a devastating condition. Previously, using a diabetic mouse model, we demonstrated that administration of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells derivatives is more effective than the use of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells alone. Here, we used the aforementioned treatments on three patients with grade 2 diabetic foot ulcers and assessed their beneficial effects, relative to the conventional approach. In the present study, two doses of cell derivatives, one dose of mesenchymal stem cells or one dose of vehicle (saline solution with 5% of human albumin), were intradermally injected around wounds. Wound healing process and changes on re-epithelialization were macroscopically evaluated until complete closure of the ulcers. All ulcers were simultaneously treated with conventional treatment (PolyMen® dressing). Patients treated with either cell derivatives or mesenchymal stem cells achieved higher percentages of wound closure in shorter times, relative to the patient treated with the conventional treatment. The cell derivative and mesenchymal stem cells approaches resulted in complete wound closure and enhanced skin regeneration at some point between days 35 and 42, although no differences between these two treatments were observed. Moreover, wounds treated with the conventional treatment healed after 161 days. Intradermal administration of cell derivatives improved wound healing to a similar extent as mesenchymal stem cells. Thus, our results suggest that mesenchymal stem cell derivatives may serve as a novel and potential therapeutic approach to treat diabetic foot ulcers.

Learning points:

  • In diabetic mouse models, the administration of mesenchymal stem cells derivatives have been demonstrated to be more effective than the use of marrow mesenchymal stem cells alone.

  • Mesenchymal stem cells have been explored as an attractive therapeutic option to treat non-healing ulcers.

  • Mesenchymal stem cells derivatives accelerate the re-epithelialization on diabetic foot ulcers.

Open access
Baris Akinci Brehm Center for Diabetes Research and Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey

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Rasimcan Meral Brehm Center for Diabetes Research and Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Diana Rus Brehm Center for Diabetes Research and Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Rita Hench Brehm Center for Diabetes Research and Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Adam H Neidert Brehm Center for Diabetes Research and Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Frank DiPaola Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Maria Westerhoff Department of Pathology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Simeon I Taylor Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

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Elif A Oral Brehm Center for Diabetes Research and Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Summary

A patient with atypical partial lipodystrophy who had a transient initial response to metreleptin experienced acute worsening of her metabolic state when neutralizing antibodies against metreleptin appeared. Because her metabolic status continued to deteriorate, a therapeutic trial with melanocortin-4 receptor agonist setmelanotide, that is believed to function downstream from leptin receptor in the leptin signaling system, was undertaken in an effort to improve her metabolic status for the first time in a patient with lipodystrophy. To achieve this, a compassionate use (investigational new drug application; IND) was initiated (NCT03262610). Glucose control, body fat by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and MRI, and liver fat by proton density fat fraction were monitored. Daily hunger scores were assessed by patient filled questionnaires. Although there was a slight decrease in hunger scales and visceral fat, stimulating melanocortin-4 receptor by setmelanotide did not result in any other metabolic benefit such as improvement of hypertriglyceridemia or diabetes control as desired. Targeting melanocortin-4 receptor to regulate energy metabolism in this setting was not sufficient to obtain a significant metabolic benefit. However, complex features of our case make it difficult to generalize these observations to all cases of lipodystrophy. It is still possible that melanocortin-4 receptor agonistic action may offer some therapeutic benefits in leptin-deficient patients.

Learning points:

  • A patient with atypical lipodystrophy with an initial benefit with metreleptin therapy developed neutralizing antibodies to metreleptin (Nab-leptin), which led to substantial worsening in metabolic control. The neutralizing activity in her serum persisted for longer than 3 years.

  • Whether the worsening in her metabolic state was truly caused by the development of Nab-leptin cannot be fully ascertained, but there was a temporal relationship. The experience noted in our patient at least raises the possibility for concern for substantial metabolic worsening upon emergence and persistence of Nab-leptin. Further studies of cases where Nab-leptin is detected and better assay systems to detect and characterize Nab-leptin are needed.

  • The use of setmelanotide, a selective MC4R agonist targeting specific neurons downstream from the leptin receptor activation, was not effective in restoring metabolic control in this complex patient with presumed diminished leptin action due to Nab-leptin.

  • Although stimulating the MC4R pathway was not sufficient to obtain a significant metabolic benefit in lowering triglycerides and helping with her insulin resistance as was noted with metreleptin earlier, there was a mild reduction in reported food intake and appetite.

  • Complex features of our case make it difficult to generalize our observation to all leptin-deficient patients. It is possible that some leptin-deficient patients (especially those who need primarily control of food intake) may still theoretically benefit from MC4R agonistic action, and further studies in carefully selected patients may help to tease out the differential pathways of metabolic regulation by the complex network of leptin signaling system.

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Diana Catarino Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Department, Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra EPE, Coimbra, Portugal

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Cristina Ribeiro Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Department, Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra EPE, Coimbra, Portugal

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Leonor Gomes Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Department, Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra EPE, Coimbra, Portugal

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Isabel Paiva Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Department, Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra EPE, Coimbra, Portugal

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Summary

Pituitary infections, particularly with fungus, are rare disorders that usually occur in immunocompromised patients. Cushing’s syndrome predisposes patients to infectious diseases due to their immunosuppression status. We report the case of a 55-year-old woman, working as a poultry farmer, who developed intense headache, palpebral ptosis, anisocoria, prostration and psychomotor agitation 9 months after initial diabetes mellitus diagnosis. Cranioencephalic CT scan showed a pituitary lesion with bleeding, suggesting pituitary apoplexy. Patient underwent transsphenoidal surgery and the neuropathologic study indicated a corticotroph adenoma with apoplexy and fungal infection. Patient had no preoperative Cushing’s syndrome diagnosis. She was evaluated by a multidisciplinary team who decided not to administer anti-fungal treatment. The reported case shows a rare association between a corticotroph adenoma and a pituitary fungal infection. The possible contributing factors were hypercortisolism, uncontrolled diabetes and professional activity. Transsphenoidal surgery is advocated in these infections; however, anti-fungal therapy is still controversial.

Learning points:

  • Pituitary infections are rare disorders caused by bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections.

  • Pituitary fungal infections usually occur in immunocompromised patients.

  • Cushing’s syndrome, as immunosuppression factor, predisposes patients to infectious diseases, including fungal infections.

  • Diagnosis of pituitary fungal infection is often achieved during histopathological investigation.

  • Treatment with systemic anti-fungal drugs is controversial.

  • Endocrine evaluation is recommended at the time of initial presentation of pituitary manifestations.

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N Siddique Departments of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

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R Durcan Departments of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

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S Smyth Department of Neurology, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

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T Kyaw Tun Departments of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

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S Sreenan Departments of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

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J H McDermott Departments of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

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Summary

We present three cases of acute diabetic neuropathy and highlight a potentially underappreciated link between tightening of glycaemic control and acute neuropathies in patients with diabetes. Case 1: A 56-year-old male with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes (T2DM) was commenced on basal-bolus insulin. He presented 6 weeks later with a diffuse painful sensory neuropathy and postural hypotension. He was diagnosed with treatment-induced neuropathy (TIN, insulin neuritis) and obtained symptomatic relief from pregabalin. Case 2: A 67-year-old male with T2DM and chronic hyperglycaemia presented with left lower limb pain, weakness and weight loss shortly after achieving target glycaemia with oral anti-hyperglycaemics. Neurological examination and neuro-electrophysiological studies suggested diabetic lumbosacral radiculo-plexus neuropathy (DLPRN, diabetic amyotrophy). Pain and weakness resolved over time. Case 3: A 58-year-old male was admitted with blurred vision diplopia and complete ptosis of the right eye, with intact pupillary reflexes, shortly after intensification of glucose-lowering treatment with an SGLT2 inhibitor as adjunct to metformin. He was diagnosed with a pupil-sparing third nerve palsy secondary to diabetic mononeuritis which improved over time. While all three acute neuropathies have been previously well described, all are rare and require a high index of clinical suspicion as they are essentially a diagnosis of exclusion. Interestingly, all three of our cases are linked by the development of acute neuropathy following a significant improvement in glycaemic control. This phenomenon is well described in TIN, but not previously highlighted in other acute neuropathies.

Learning points:

  • A link between acute tightening of glycaemic control and acute neuropathies has not been well described in literature.

  • Clinicians caring for patients with diabetes who develop otherwise unexplained neurologic symptoms following a tightening of glycaemic control should consider the possibility of an acute diabetic neuropathy.

  • Early recognition of these neuropathies can obviate the need for detailed and expensive investigations and allow for early institution of appropriate pain-relieving medications.

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Alessandro Rossini Endocrinology and Diabetes Unit, ASST Papa Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, Italy

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Francesca Perticone Endocrine Unit, Department of Internal Medicine

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Laura Frosio Endocrine Unit, Department of Internal Medicine

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Marco Schiavo Lena Department of Pathology, San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy

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Roberto Lanzi Endocrine Unit, Department of Internal Medicine

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Summary

ACTH-secreting pheochromocytoma is a very rare cause of Cushing’s syndrome, with a high morbidity and mortality risk due to both cortisol and catecholamines excess. We report the case of a 45-year-old female patient with a 3 cm, high-density, left adrenal mass, diagnosed as an ACTH-secreting pheochromocytoma. The biochemical sensitivity of the tumor to somatostatin analogues was tested by a 100 μg s.c. octreotide administration, which led to an ACTH and cortisol reduction of 50 and 25% respectively. In addition to alpha and beta blockers, preoperative approach to laparoscopic adrenalectomy included octreotide, a somatostatin analogue, together with ketoconazole, in order to achieve an adequate pre-surgical control of cortisol release. Histopathological assessment confirmed an ACTH-secreting pheochromocytoma expressing type 2 and 5 somatostatin receptors (SSTR-2 and -5).

Learning points:

  • ACTH-secreting pheochromocytomas represent a rare and severe condition, characterized by high morbidity and mortality risk.

  • Surgical removal of the adrenal mass is the gold standard treatment, but adequate medical therapy is required preoperatively to improve the surgical outcome and to avoid major complications.

  • Somatostatin analogs, in addition to other medications, may represent a useful therapeutic option for the presurgical management of selected patients.

  • In this sense, the octreotide challenge test is a useful tool to predict favorable therapeutic response to the treatment.

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Katta Sai Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

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Amos Lal Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

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Jhansi Lakshmi Maradana Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

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Pruthvi Raj Velamala Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

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Trivedi Nitin Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

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Summary

Mifepristone is a promising option for the management of hypercortisolism associated with hyperglycemia. However, its use may result in serious electrolyte imbalances, especially during dose escalation. In our patient with adrenocorticotropic hormone-independent macro-nodular adrenal hyperplasia, unilateral adrenalectomy resulted in biochemical and clinical improvement, but subclinical hypercortisolism persisted following adrenalectomy. She was started on mifepristone. Unfortunately, she missed her follow-up appointments following dosage escalation and required hospitalization at an intensive care level for severe refractory hypokalemia.

Learning points:

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Yasuhiro Oda Nephrology Center, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

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Masayuki Yamanouchi Nephrology Center, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

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Hiroki Mizuno Nephrology Center, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

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Rikako Hiramatsu Nephrology Center, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

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Tatsuya Suwabe Nephrology Center, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

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Junichi Hoshino Nephrology Center, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
Okinaka Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

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Naoki Sawa Nephrology Center, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

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Kenichi Ohashi Department of Pathology, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
Department of Pathology, Graduate School of Medicine, Yokohama City University, Yokohama, Japan

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Takeshi Fujii Department of Pathology, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

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Yoshifumi Ubara Nephrology Center, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
Okinaka Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan

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Summary

We report the renal histology of a 66-year-old man with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and a 30-year history of type 2 diabetes mellitus with proliferative diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy, and diabetic foot status post toe amputation. Urinary protein excretion was 1.4 g/gCr, serum creatinine level 0.86 mg/dL, estimated glomerular filtration rate 69 mL/min/1.73 m2, and HbA1c 13–15%, despite using insulin. Light microscopy showed global glomerulosclerosis in 37% of the glomeruli, but the remaining glomeruli were intact. Significant polar vasculosis was present, while arteriolar sclerosis was mild. Electron microscopy revealed a thickened glomerular basement membrane, which is compatible with the early stage of diabetic glomerulopathy. The presented case was unique because glomerular changes seen typically in diabetes were not seen in the patient, despite the long-standing history of diabetes and diabetic comorbidities, while prominent polar vasculosis was found. Polar vascular formation helps preserve the glomeruli by allowing hyperosmotic blood bypass the glomeruli; this decreases intraglomerular pressure and minimizes glomerular endothelial damage.

Learning points:

  • A 66-year-old man with a 30-year history of type 2 diabetes mellitus with poor glycemic control underwent renal biopsy, which showed scarce glomerular changes typically seen in diabetic kidney disease and instead revealed significant polar vasculosis.

  • Past studies demonstrated that the increased small vessels around the vascular hilus in diabetic patients originated from the afferent arterioles and drained into the peritubular capillaries.

  • Polar vascular formation may preserve glomerular function by allowing the blood flow to bypass the glomeruli and decreasing the intraglomerular pressure, which minimizes endothelial damage of the glomerular tufts.

Open access
Khaled Aljenaee Department of Endocrinology, St James Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

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Osamah Hakami Department of Endocrinology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland

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Colin Davenport Department of Endocrinology, St Columcille’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

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Gemma Farrell Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland

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Tommy Kyaw Tun Department of Endocrinology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland

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Agnieszka Pazderska Department of Endocrinology, St James Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

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Niamh Phelan Department of Endocrinology, St James Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

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Marie-Louise Healy Department of Endocrinology, St James Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

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Seamus Sreenan Department of Endocrinology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland

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John H McDermott Department of Endocrinology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland

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Summary

Measurement of glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) has been utilised in assessing long-term control of blood glucose in patients with diabetes, as well as diagnosing diabetes and identifying patients at increased risk of developing diabetes in the future. HbA1c reflects the level of blood glucose to which the erythrocyte has been exposed during its lifespan, and there are a number of clinical situations affecting the erythrocyte life span in which HbA1c values may be spuriously high or low and therefore not reflective of the true level of glucose control. In the present case series, we describe the particulars of three patients with diabetes who had spuriously low HbA1c levels as a result of dapsone usage. Furthermore, we discuss the limitations of HbA1c testing and the mechanisms by which it may be affected by dapsone in particular.

Learning points:

  • Various conditions and medications can result in falsely low HbA1c.

  • Dapsone can lead to falsely low HbA1c by inducing haemolysis and by forming methaemoglobin.

  • Capillary glucose measurement, urine glucose measurements and fructosamine levels should be used as alternatives to HbA1c for monitoring glycaemic control if it was falsely low or high.

Open access
Punith Kempegowda Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

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Lauren Quinn Department of Endocrinology, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK

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Lisa Shepherd Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

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Samina Kauser Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Briony Johnson Department of Pathology, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Alex Lawson Department of Pathology, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Andrew Bates Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Summary

A 62-year-old Asian British female presented with increasing tiredness. She had multiple co-morbidities and was prescribed steroid inhalers for asthma. She had also received short courses of oral prednisolone for acute asthma exacerbations in the last 2 years. Unfortunately, the frequency and dose of steroids for asthma was unclear from history. Her type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) control had deteriorated over a short period of time (HbA1c: 48–85 mmol/mol). Blood tests revealed undetectable cortisol and ACTH (<28 mmol/L, <5.0 ng/L). Renin, electrolytes and thyroid function were within normal limits. A diagnosis of secondary adrenal insufficiency, likely due to long-term steroid inhaler and recurrent short courses of oral steroids for asthma exacerbations was made. Patient was commenced on hydrocortisone 10 mg, 5 mg and 5 mg regimen. Steroid inhaler was discontinued following consultation with respiratory physicians. Despite discontinuation of inhaled steroids, patient continued not to mount a response to Synacthen®. Upon further detailed history, patient admitted taking a ‘herbal’ preparation for chronic osteoarthritic knee pain. Toxicology analysis showed presence of dexamethasone, ciprofloxacin, paracetamol, diclofenac, ibuprofen and cimetidine in the herbal medication. Patient was advised to discontinue her herbal preparation. We believe the cause of secondary adrenal insufficiency in our patient was the herbal remedy containing dexamethasone, explaining persistent adrenal suppression despite discontinuation of all prescribed steroids, further possibly contributing to obesity, hypertension and suboptimal control of DM. In conclusion, a comprehensive drug history including herbal and over-the-counter preparations should be elucidated. Investigation for the presence of steroids in these preparations should be considered when patients persist to have secondary adrenal insufficiency despite discontinuation of prescribed steroid medications.

Learning points:

  • The likelihood of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) in medication-induced secondary adrenal insufficiency should be considered in any patient presenting with potential symptoms of adrenal insufficiency.

  • If the contents of CAM preparation cannot be ascertained, toxicology screening should be considered.

  • Patients should be advised to stop taking CAM preparation when it contains steroids and hydrocortisone replacement therapy commenced, with periodic reassessment of adrenal function, and then if indicated weaned accordingly.

  • Patients should be informed about the contents of CAM therapies, so they can make a truly informed choice regarding the risks and benefits.

  • This case also highlights a need to increase regulatory processes over CAM therapies, given their propensity to contain a number of undisclosed medications and potent steroids.

Open access