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Open access

Anna Kopczak, Adrian-Minh Schumacher, Sandra Nischwitz, Tania Kümpfel, Günter K Stalla and Matthias K Auer

Summary

The autoimmune polyendocrinopathy–candidiasis–ectodermal dystrophy (APECED) syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by a mutation in the autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene. Immune deficiency, hypoparathyroidism and Addison’s disease due to autoimmune dysfunction are the major clinical signs of APECED. We report on a 21-year-old female APECED patient with two inactivating mutations in the AIRE gene. She presented with sudden onset of periodic nausea. Adrenal insufficiency was diagnosed by means of the ACTH stimulation test. Despite initiation of hormone replacement therapy with hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone, nausea persisted and the patient developed cognitive deficits and a loss of interest which led to the diagnosis of depression. She was admitted to the psychiatric department for further diagnostic assessment. An EEG showed a focal epileptic pattern. Glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies, which had been negative eight years earlier, were now elevated in serum and in the cerebrospinal fluid. Oligoclonal bands were positive indicating an inflammatory process with intrathecal antibody production in the central nervous system (CNS). The periodic nausea was identified as dialeptic seizures, which clinically presented as gastrointestinal aura followed by episodes of reduced consciousness that occurred about 3–4 times per day. GAD antibody-associated limbic encephalitis (LE) was diagnosed. Besides antiepileptic therapy, an immunosuppressive treatment with corticosteroids was initiated followed by azathioprine. The presence of nausea and vomiting in endocrine patients with autoimmune disorders is indicative of adrenal insufficiency. However, our case report shows that episodic nausea may be a symptom of epileptic seizures due to GAD antibodies-associated LE in patients with APECED.

Learning points:

  • Episodic nausea cannot only be a sign of Addison’s disease, but can also be caused by epileptic seizures with gastrointestinal aura due to limbic encephalitis.

  • GAD antibodies are not only found in diabetes mellitus type 1, but they are also associated with autoimmune limbic encephalitis and can appear over time.

  • Limbic encephalitis can be another manifestation of autoimmune disease in patients with APECED/APS-1 that presents over the time course of the disease.

Open access

Alessandro Mantovani, Fabrizia Perrone, Vincenzo Stoico, Isabella Pichiri, Laura Salvotelli, Ilaria Teobaldi, Massimiliano Bruti, Michela Conti, Luca Cima, Albino Eccher and Enzo Bonora

Summary

The incidences of type 2 diabetes mellitus and many cancers are rapidly increasing worldwide. Diabetes is a strong risk factor for some cancers (including lymphomas) and is also associated with adverse cancer outcomes. After gastrointestinal tract, the skin is the second most frequent extranodal site involved by non-Hodgkin lymphomas and the cutaneous B-cell lymphomas (CBCLs) range from 25% to 30% of all primary cutaneous lymphomas. The primary cutaneous diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (PCDLBCL) is an aggressive lymphoma with a poor prognosis, representing roughly 20% of all primary CBCLs. Classically, the cutaneous manifestation of this lymphoma is a red or violaceous tumors arising on a leg. To date, despite the large body of evidence suggesting that diabetes is strongly associated with an increased risk of some cancers, very little information is available regarding a possible association between type 2 diabetes and primary cutaneous diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. In this report, we will present the case of a white adult patient with type 2 diabetes with chronic leg ulcers complicated by a primary cutaneous diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Learning points:

  • Diabetes mellitus is increasing worldwide as well as the incidence of many cancers.

  • Diabetes mellitus is a powerful risk factor for some cancers (including lymphomas) and is strongly associated with adverse cancer outcomes.

  • Seen that diabetes is strongly associated with an increased risk of cancers (including cutaneous lymphomas), clinicians should always keep in mind this complication in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes, even in a chronic leg ulcer with hypertrophy of the wound edge, which is hard to heal and does not have the typical characteristics of a diabetic or vascular ulcer. In these cases, a biopsy should be performed to rule out a neoplasm.

  • Early diagnosis and correct management of cancer in a patient with type 2 diabetes are crucial to improve clinical outcomes.

Open access

Avinash Suryawanshi, Timothy Middleton and Kirtan Ganda

Summary

X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is a rare genetic condition caused by mutations in the ABCD1 gene that result in accumulation of very long chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) in various tissues. This leads to demyelination in the CNS and impaired steroidogenesis in the adrenal cortex and testes. A 57-year-old gentleman was referred for the assessment of bilateral gynaecomastia of 6 months duration. He had skin hyperpigmentation since 4 years of age and spastic paraparesis for the past 15 years. Physical examination findings included generalised hyperpigmentation (including skin, buccal mucosa and palmar creases), blood pressure of 90/60 mmHg, non-tender gynaecomastia and bilateral hypoplastic testes. Lower limb findings were those of a profoundly ataxic gait associated with significant paraparesis and sensory loss. Primary adrenal insufficiency was confirmed and investigations for gynaecomastia revealed normal testosterone with mildly elevated luteinising hormone level and normal prolactin. The combination of primary adrenal insufficiency (likely childhood onset), partial testicular failure (leading to gynaecomastia) and spastic paraparesis suggested X-ALD as a unifying diagnosis. A serum VLCFA panel was consistent with X-ALD. Subsequent genetic testing confirmed the diagnosis. Treatment with replacement doses of corticosteroid resulted in improvement in blood pressure and increased energy levels. We have reported the case of a 57-year-old man with a very late diagnosis of X-ALD manifested by childhood onset of primary adrenal insufficiency followed by paraparesis and primary hypogonadism in adulthood. Thus, X-ALD should be considered as a possibility in a patient with non-autoimmune primary adrenal insufficiency and neurological abnormalities.

Learning points

  • Adult patients with X-ALD may be misdiagnosed as having multiple sclerosis or idiopathic spastic paraparesis for many years before the correct diagnosis is identified.

  • Screening for X-ALD with a VLCFA panel should be strongly considered in male children with primary adrenal insufficiency and in male adults presenting with non-autoimmune primary adrenal insufficiency.

  • Confirmation of a genetic diagnosis of X-ALD can be very useful for a patient's family as genetic testing enables detection of pre-symptomatic female heterozygotes who can then be offered pre-natal testing to avoid transmission of the disease to male offsprings.

Open access

Shinya Makino, Takeshi Uchihashi, Yasuo Kataoka and Masayoshi Fujiwara

Summary

Recovery from alopecia is rare in autoimmune polyglandular syndrome (APS). A 41-year-old male was admitted to our hospital with hyperglycemia. He developed alopecia areata (AA) 5 months before admission and developed thirst, polyuria, and anorexia in 2 weeks. His plasma glucose level upon admission was 912 mg/dl (50.63 mmol/l) and HbA1c was 13.7%. Although urinary and plasma C-peptide levels showed that insulin secretion was not depleted, anti-insulinoma-associated antigen 2 antibody was present. In addition, measurement of thyroid autoantibodies revealed the presence of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. These findings suggested a diagnosis of APS type 3. The patient has showed signs of improvement with the continuation of insulin therapy. During the successful control of diabetes, he had total hair regrowth within 2–3 months. Human leukocyte antigen typing showed that DRB1*1501-DQB1*0602 and DQB1*0301 were present. Similar cases should be accumulated to clarify the association of APS type 3 with recovery from AA.

Learning points

  • Alopecia in diabetic patients is a suspicious manifestation of autoimmune type 1 diabetes.

  • Patients with autoimmune type 1 diabetes specifically manifesting alopecia should be further examined for diagnosis of APS.

  • Insulin-mediated metabolic improvement may be a factor, but not the sole factor, determining a favorable outcome of alopecia in patients with autoimmune type 1 diabetes.

Open access

Mohd Shazli Draman, Aoife Brennan, Michael Cullen and John Nolan

Summary

Bilateral lower limb paraesthesia is a common diabetic neuropathy presentation in any busy diabetic clinics. We present a case of a 28-year-old man with a long history of type 1 diabetes mellitus presented with bilateral paraesthesia of both feet and unsteady gait. The patient was able to feel a 10 g monofilament. The presence of brisk reflexes and upgoing plantars in this patient were pointers that further evaluation was warranted. Further investigations revealed diagnosis of subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord. The patient had rapid symptomatic improvement with i.m. vitamin B12 injection. The high volume of patients attending the outpatients with diabetes and paraesthesia can blind us to other possible diagnoses. This article emphasizes that peripheral neuropathy in a diabetic may be due to aetiologies other than diabetes.

Learning points

  • Pernicious anaemia is known to be more common in patients with type 1 diabetes.

  • Cobalamin deficiency is reversible if detected early enough and treated by B12 replacement.

  • By contrast, diabetic neuropathy is generally a progressive complication of diabetes.

  • Peripheral neuropathy in a diabetic may be due to aetiologies other than diabetes.