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Open access

S Vimalesvaran, S Narayanaswamy, L Yang, J K Prague, A Buckley, A D Miras, S Franks, K Meeran and W S Dhillo

Summary

Primary amenorrhoea is defined as the failure to commence menstruation by the age of 15 years, in the presence of normal secondary sexual development. The potential causes of primary amenorrhoea extend from structural to chromosomal abnormalities. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of secondary amenorrhoea but an uncommon cause of primary amenorrhoea. An early and prompt diagnosis of PCOS is important, as up to 30% of these women are predisposed to glucose intolerance and obesity, with the subgroup of women presenting with primary amenorrhoea and PCOS displaying a higher incidence of metabolic dysfunction. We describe a case of an 18-year-old female presenting with primary amenorrhoea of unknown aetiology. Although initial investigations did not demonstrate clinical or biochemical hyperandrogenism or any radiological evidence of polycystic ovaries, a raised luteinising hormone (LH) suggested a diagnosis of PCOS. If PCOS was the correct diagnosis, then one would expect intact hypothalamic GnRH and pituitary gonadotropin release. We used the novel hormone kisspeptin to confirm intact hypothalamic GnRH release and a GnRH stimulation test to confirm intact pituitary gonadotroph function. This case highlights that kisspeptin is a potential unique tool to test GnRH function in patients presenting with reproductive disorders.

Learning points:

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can present with primary amenorrhoea, and therefore, should be considered in the differential diagnosis.

  • PCOS is a heterogeneous condition that may present in lean women with few or absent signs of hyperandrogenism.

  • GnRH stimulation tests are useful in evaluating pituitary function; however, to date, we do not have a viable test of GnRH function. Kisspeptin has the potential to form a novel diagnostic tool for assessing hypothalamic GnRH function by monitoring gonadotropin response as a surrogate marker of GnRH release.

  • Confirmation of intact GnRH function helps consolidate a diagnosis in primary amenorrhoea and gives an indication of future fertility.

Open access

Marlene Tarvainen, Satu Mäkelä, Jukka Mustonen and Pia Jaatinen

Summary

Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) infection causes nephropathia epidemica (NE), a relatively mild form of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS). Hypophyseal haemorrhage and hypopituitarism have been described in case reports on patients with acute NE. Chronic hypopituitarism diagnosed months or years after the acute illness has also been reported, without any signs of a haemorrhagic aetiology. The mechanisms leading to the late-onset hormonal defects remain unknown. Here, we present a case of NE-associated autoimmune polyendocrinopathy and hypopituitarism presumably due to autoimmune hypophysitis. Thyroid peroxidase antibody seroconversion occurred between 6 and 12 months, and ovarian as well as glutamate decarboxylase antibodies were found 18 months after acute NE. Brain MRI revealed an atrophic adenohypophysis with a heterogeneous, low signal intensity compatible with a sequela of hypophysitis. The patient developed central (or mixed central and peripheral) hypothyroidism, hypogonadism and diabetes insipidus, all requiring hormonal replacement therapy. This case report suggests that late-onset hormonal defects after PUUV infection may develop by an autoimmune mechanism. This hypothesis needs to be confirmed by prospective studies with sufficient numbers of patients.

Learning points:

  • Pituitary haemorrhage resulting in hypopituitarism has been reported during acute HFRS caused by PUUV and other hantaviruses.

  • Central and peripheral hormone deficiencies developing months or years after HFRS have also been found, with an incidence higher than that in the general population. The pathogenesis of these late-onset hormonal defects remains unknown.

  • This case report suggests that the late-onset hypopituitarism and peripheral endocrine defects after HFRS could evolve via autoimmune mechanisms.

  • The sensitivity of current anti-pituitary antibody (APA) tests is low. A characteristic clinical course, together with typical brain MRI and endocrine findings may be sufficient for a non-invasive diagnosis of autoimmune hypophysitis, despite negative APAs.

Open access

Ana Marina Moreira and Poli Mara Spritzer

Summary

Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is the condition of intermittent or permanent gonadal insufficiency that occurs in women before the age of 40. We describe three cases of POI referred to the outpatient endocrinology clinic of a university hospital. The three patients met diagnostic criteria for POI and were managed by specific approaches tailored to individualized goals. In the first case, the main concern was fertility and the reproductive prognosis. The second patient was a carrier of a common genetic cause of POI: premutation of the FMR1 gene. The third case was a patient diagnosed with a POI and established osteoporosis, a common complication of estrogen deprivation. This study reports the treatment and follow-up of these cases, with an emphasis on relevant aspects of individualized management, alongside a brief literature review.

Learning points

  • A diagnosis of POI should be considered in patients presenting with amenorrhea or irregular menses and high serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels before age 40 years.

  • Patients with POI without an established cause, especially in familial cases, should be tested for FMR1 mutations.

  • Estrogen/progestin replacement therapy is indicated since diagnosis until at least the estimated age of menopause, and is the cornerstone for maintaining the good health of breast and urogenital tract and for primary or secondary osteoporosis prevention in POI.

  • Fertility should be managed through an individualized approach based on patient possibilities, such as egg or embryo donation and ovarian cryopreservation; pregnancy can occur spontaneously in a minority of cases.

  • Women with POI should be carefully monitored for cardiovascular risk factors.

Open access

Carla Costa, Cíntia Castro-Correia, Alda Mira-Coelho, Bessa Monteiro, Joaquim Monteiro, Ieuan Hughes and Manuel Fontoura

Summary

The development of male internal and external genitalia in an XY fetus requires a complex interplay of many critical genes, enzymes, and cofactors. The enzyme 17β-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase type 3 (17βHSD3) is present almost exclusively in the testicles and converts Delta 4-androstenodione (Δ4) to testosterone. A deficiency in this enzyme is rare and is a frequently misdiagnosed autosomal recessive cause of 46,XY, disorder of sex development. The case report is of a 15-year-old adolescent, who was raised according to female gender. At puberty, the adolescent had a severe virilization and primary amenorrhea. The physical examination showed a male phenotype with micropenis and blind vagina. The Tanner stage was A3B1P4, nonpalpable gonads. The karyotype revealed 46,XY. The endocrinology study revealed: testosterone=2.38 ng/ml, Δ4>10.00 ng/ml, and low testosterone/Δ4 ratio=0.23. Magnetic resonance imaging of the abdominal–pelvic showed the presence of testicles in inguinal canal, seminal vesicle, prostate, micropenis, and absence of uterus and vagina. The genetic study confirmed the mutation p.Glu215Asp on HSD17B3 gene in homozygosity. The dilemma of sex reassignment was seriously considered when the diagnosis was made. During all procedures the patient was accompanied by a child psychiatrist/psychologist. The teenager desired to continue being a female, so gonadectomy was performed. Estrogen therapy and surgical procedure to change external genitalia was carried out. In this case, there was a severe virilization at puberty. It is speculated to be due to a partial activity of 17βHSD3 in the testicles and/or extratesticular ability to convert Δ4 to testosterone by 17βHSD5. Prenatal exposure of the brain to androgens has increasingly been put forward as a critical factor in gender identity development, but in this case the social factor was more important for the gender assignment.

Learning points

  • In this case, we highlight the late diagnosis, probably because the patient belongs to a poor family without proper primary medical care.

  • We emphasize the psychological and social aspects in the sex assignment decision.