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Open access

Nicholas R Zessis, Jennifer L Nicholas and Stephen I Stone

Summary

Bilateral adrenal hemorrhages rarely occur during the neonatal period and are often associated with traumatic vaginal deliveries. However, the adrenal gland has highly regenerative capabilities and adrenal insufficiency typically resolves over time. We evaluated a newborn female after experiencing fetal macrosomia and a traumatic vaginal delivery. She developed acidosis and acute renal injury. Large adrenal hemorrhages were noted bilaterally on ultrasound, and she was diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency based on characteristic electrolyte changes and a low cortisol (4.2 µg/dL). On follow-up testing, this patient was unable to be weaned off of hydrocortisone or fludrocortisone despite resolution of hemorrhages on ultrasound. Providers should consider bilateral adrenal hemorrhage when evaluating critically ill neonates after a traumatic delivery. In extreme cases, this may be a persistent process.

Learning points:

  • Risk factors for adrenal hemorrhage include fetal macrosomia, traumatic vaginal delivery and critical acidemia.

  • Signs of adrenal hemorrhage include jaundice, flank mass, skin discoloration or scrotal hematoma.

  • Adrenal insufficiency often is a transient process when related to adrenal hemorrhage.

  • Severe adrenal hemorrhages can occur in the absence of symptoms.

  • Though rare, persistent adrenal insufficiency may occur in extremely severe cases of bilateral adrenal hemorrhage.

  • Consider adrenal hemorrhage when evaluating a neonate for shock in the absence of an infectious etiology.

Open access

Anil Piya, Jasmeet Kaur, Alan M Rice and Himangshu S Bose

Summary

Cholesterol transport into the mitochondria is required for synthesis of the first steroid, pregnenolone. Cholesterol is transported by the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STAR), which acts at the outer mitochondrial membrane prior to its import. Mutations in the STAR protein result in lipoid congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Although the STAR protein consists of seven exons, biochemical analysis in nonsteroidogenic COS-1 cells showed that the first two were not essential for pregnenolone synthesis. Here, we present a patient with ambiguous genitalia, salt-lossing crisis within two weeks after birth and low cortisol levels. Sequence analysis of the STAR, including the exon–intron boundaries, showed the complete deletion of exon 1 as well as more than 50 nucleotides upstream of STAR promoter. Mitochondrial protein import with the translated protein through synthesis cassette of the mutant STAR lacking exon 1 showed protein translation, but it is less likely to have synthesized without a promoter in our patient. Thus, a full-length STAR gene is necessary for physiological mitochondrial cholesterol transport in vivo.

Learning points:

  • STAR exon 1 deletion caused lipoid CAH.

  • Exon 1 substitution does not affect biochemical activity.

  • StAR promoter is responsible for gonadal development.

Open access

Jasmeet Kaur, Alan M Rice, Elizabeth O’Connor, Anil Piya, Bradley Buckler and Himangshu S Bose

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is caused by mutations in cytochrome P450 side chain cleavage enzyme (CYP11A1 and old name, SCC). Errors in cholesterol side chain cleavage by the mitochondrial resident CYP11A1 results in an inadequate amount of pregnenolone production. This study was performed to evaluate the cause of salt-losing crisis and possible adrenal failure in a pediatric patient whose mother had a history of two previous stillbirths and loss of another baby within a week of birth. CAH can appear in any population in any region of the world. The study was conducted at Memorial University Medical Center and Mercer University School of Medicine. The patient was admitted to Pediatric Endocrinology Clinic due to salt-losing crisis and possible adrenal failure. The patient had CAH, an autosomal recessive disease, due to a novel mutation in exon 5 of the CYP11A1 gene, which generated a truncated protein of 286 amino acids compared with wild-type protein that has 521 amino acids (W286X). Although unrelated, both parents are carriers. Mitochondrial protein import analysis of the mutant CYP11A1 in steroidogenic MA-10 cells showed that the protein is imported in a similar fashion as observed for the wild-type protein and was cleaved to a shorter fragment. However, mutant’s activity was 10% of that obtained for the wild-type protein in non-steroidogenic COS-1 cells. In a patient of Mexican descent, a homozygous CYP11A1 mutation caused CAH, suggesting that this disease is not geographically restricted even in a homogeneous population.

Learning points:

  • Novel mutation in CYP11A1 causes CAH;

  • This is a pure population from Central Mexico;

  • Novel mutation created early truncated protein.

Open access

Yael R Nobel, Maya B Lodish, Margarita Raygada, Jaydira Del Rivero, Fabio R Faucz, Smita B Abraham, Charalampos Lyssikatos, Elena Belyavskaya, Constantine A Stratakis and Mihail Zilbermint

Summary

Autosomal recessive pseudohypoaldosteronism type 1 (PHA1) is a rare disorder characterized by sodium wasting, failure to thrive, hyperkalemia, hypovolemia and metabolic acidosis. It is due to mutations in the amiloride-sensitive epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and is characterized by diminished response to aldosterone. Patients may present with life-threatening hyperkalemia, which must be recognized and appropriately treated. A 32-year-old female was referred to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for evaluation of hyperkalemia and muscle pain. Her condition started in the second week of life, when she was brought to an outside hospital lethargic and unresponsive. At that time, she was hypovolemic, hyperkalemic and acidotic, and was eventually treated with sodium bicarbonate and potassium chelation. At the time of the presentation to the NIH, her laboratory evaluation revealed serum potassium 5.1 mmol/l (reference range: 3.4–5.1 mmol/l), aldosterone 2800 ng/dl (reference range: ≤21 ng/dl) and plasma renin activity 90 ng/ml/h (reference range: 0.6–4.3 ng/ml per h). Diagnosis of PHA1 was suspected. Sequencing of the SCNN1B gene, which codes for ENaC, revealed that the patient is a compound heterozygote for two novel variants (c.1288delC and c.1466+1 G>A), confirming the suspected diagnosis of PHA1. In conclusion, we report a patient with novel variants of the SCNN1B gene causing PHA1 with persistent, symptomatic hyperkalemia.

Learning points

  • PHA1 is a rare genetic condition, causing functional abnormalities of the amiloride-sensitive ENaC.

  • PHA1 was caused by previously unreported SCNN1B gene mutations (c.1288delC and c.1466+1 G>A).

  • Early recognition of this condition and adherence to symptomatic therapy is important, as the electrolyte abnormalities found may lead to severe dehydration, cardiac arrhythmias and even death.

  • High doses of sodium polystyrene sulfonate, sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate are required for symptomatic treatment.

Open access

Reiner Jumpertz von Schwartzenberg, Ulf Elbelt, Manfred Ventz, Knut Mai, Tina Kienitz, Lukas Maurer, Thomas Rose, Jens C Rückert, Christian J Strasburger and Joachim Spranger

Parathyroid carcinoma is a rare disease leading to severe hypercalcemia due to hyperparathyroidism. Surgery is the primary treatment option. A more progressive form of the disease is characterized by parathyrotoxicosis, and subsequent hypercalcemia is the most common cause of death. We report a case presenting with severe hypercalcemia due to parathyrotoxicosis from parathyroid carcinoma treated for the first time using the monoclonal antibody denosumab as a rescue therapy and present long-term follow-up data. The 71-year-old patient presented with severe hypercalcemia due to metastatic parathyroid carcinoma. Despite undergoing treatment with bisphosphonates, cinacalcet hydrochloride, and forced diuresis, the patient`s condition deteriorated rapidly due to resistant hypercalcemia. Surgery performed because of spinal metastasis and forced diuresis lowered calcium levels, albeit they remained in the hypercalcemic range and significantly increased when forced diuresis was stopped. Considering a palliative situation to overcome hypercalcemia, we decided to administer denosumab, a monoclonal antibody that binds to the receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B ligand. After a single subcutaneous administration of 60 mg denosumab, calcium levels normalized within one day. Subsequent denosumab injections led to permanent control of serum calcium for more than 2 years despite rising parathyroid hormone levels and repeated surgeries. Together with recent cases in the literature supporting our observation, we believe that denosumab is relevant for future trials and represents an effective tool to control hypercalcemia in patients with advanced stages of parathyroid cancer.

Learning points

  • Severe hypercalcemia is the most common cause of death in patients with parathyroid carcinoma.

  • The monoclonal antibody denosumab rapidly lowered severely elevated serum calcium levels due to parathyrotoxicosis.

  • Denosumab was effective in the long-term treatment of hypercalcemia despite progression of parathyroid carcinoma.

Open access

Sudeep K Rajpoot, Carlos Maggi and Amrit Bhangoo

Summary

Neonatal hyperkalemia and hyponatremia are medical conditions that require an emergent diagnosis and treatment to avoid morbidity and mortality. Here, we describe the case of a 10-day-old female baby presenting with life-threatening hyperkalemia, hyponatremia, and metabolic acidosis diagnosed as autosomal dominant pseudohypoaldosteronism type 1 (PHA1). This report aims to recognize that PHA1 may present with a life-threatening arrhythmia due to severe hyperkalemia and describes the management of such cases in neonates.

Learning points

  • PHA1 may present with a life-threatening arrhythmia.

  • Presentation of PHA can be confused with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

  • Timing and appropriate medical management in the critical care unit prevented fatality from severe neonatal PHA.