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Open access

Takatoshi Anno, Hideaki Kaneto, Ryo Shigemoto, Fumiko Kawasaki, Yasuhiro Kawai, Noriyo Urata, Hirofumi Kawamoto, Kohei Kaku and Niro Okimoto

Summary

Hypoglycemia is induced by many causes, especially over-dose of insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents in diabetic subjects. In such a case, hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia is usually observed. On the other hand, it is important to classify secondary hypoglycemia and hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia. Liver injury-induced hypoglycemia is one of the causes of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia but rarely observed in clinical practice. Herein, we experienced similar 2 cases of non-diabetic hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia. Both of them were elderly subjects with low body weight. Furthermore, it is likely that hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia in both subjects was triggered by severe liver injury, at least in part, due to possible limited liver glycogen store. In elderly subjects with low body weight and/or malnutrition, metabolism in the liver is reduced and glycogen accumulation is decreased. Such alteration brings out acute and marked liver injury, which finally leads to the onset of severe hypoglycemia. It is known that not only liver injury but also multiple organ failure could be induced due to extreme emaciation in subjects. It is likely that in elderly subjects with low body weight and/or malnutrition, multiple organ failure including liver failure could be induced due to the similar reason. Therefore, we should be very careful of such subjects in order to avoid the development of multiple organ failure which leads to life-threatening situations. In conclusion, we should keep in mind the possibility of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia when we examine severe liver injury, especially in elderly or starving subjects with low body weight and limited liver glycogen stores.

Learning points:

  • It is important to classify secondary hypoglycemia and hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia.

  • Liver injury-induced hypoglycemia is one of the causes of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia but rarely observed in everyday clinical practice.

  • Herein, we reported similar 2 cases of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia without diabetes presumably triggered by severe liver injury.

  • In both cases, hypoglycemia was improved by glucose infusion, although their liver injury was not improved.

  • We should keep in mind the possibility of hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia when we examine severe liver injury, especially in elderly subjects with low body weight.

Open access

Chih-Ting Su and Yi-Chun Lin

Summary

Insulin antibodies (IA) associated with exogenous insulin administration seldom caused hypoglycemia and had different characteristics from insulin autoantibodies (IAA) found in insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS), which was first described by Dr Hirata in 1970. The characteristic of IAS is the presence of insulin-binding autoantibodies and related fasting or late postprandial hypoglycemia. Here, we report a patient with type 1 diabetes mellitus under insulin glargine and insulin aspart treatment who developed recurrent spontaneous post-absorptive hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia with the cause probably being insulin antibodies induced by exogenous injected insulin. Examinations of serial sera disclosed a high titre of insulin antibodies (33%, normal <5%), high insulin concentration (111.9 IU/mL) and undetectable C-peptide when hypoglycemia occurred. An oral glucose tolerance test revealed persistent high serum levels of total insulin and undetectable C-peptide. Image studies of the pancreas were unremarkable, which excluded the diagnosis of insulinoma. The patient does not take any of the medications containing sulfhydryl compounds, which had been reported to cause IAS. After administering oral prednisolone for 3 weeks, hypoglycemic episodes markedly improved, and he was discharged smoothly.

Learning points:

  • Insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS) or IAS-like situation should be one of the differential diagnosis in patients with hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia.

  • Although less reported, insulin antibodies (IA) caused by exogenous insulin analog should be considered as the cause of hypoglycemia.

  • Patients with suspected insulin autoimmune syndrome (IAS) should be screened for drugs related to autoimmunity to endogenous insulin.

Open access

Sally K Abell, Jessie Teng, Anthony Dowling, Michael S Hofman, Richard J MacIsaac and Nirupa Sachithanandan

Summary

This paper details the case of a 77-year-old male with refractory hypoglycaemia due to inoperable metastatic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (pNET) co-secreting insulin and gastrin. Multiple medical therapies were trialled with limited success, and we describe the complications experienced by our patient. Somatostatin analogues can ameliorate hypoglycaemia and may have tumour-stabilising effects; however, in our case resulted in paradoxical worsening of hypoglycaemia. This rendered our patient hospital dependent for glycaemic support including continuous dextrose infusion. Although this is a reported adverse effect with initiation of therapy, we describe successful initiation of short-acting octreotide as an inpatient followed by commencement of long-acting octreotide. Hypoglycaemic collapse occurred only after dose titration of long-acting octreotide. We outline the pitfalls of somatostatin analogue therapy and the mechanisms that may contribute to worsening hypoglycaemia. This rare side effect cannot be reliably predicted, necessitating close supervision and glucose monitoring during therapy. Our patient achieved disease stabilisation and gradual resolution of hypoglycaemia with peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT), an emerging therapeutic option for metastatic neuroendocrine tumours with high efficacy and low toxicity. We present a brief but comprehensive discussion of currently available and novel therapies for insulin secreting pNETs.

Learning points

  • Hypoglycaemia due to malignant insulin secreting pNET is frequently severe and may be life-threatening despite supportive therapies.

  • Octreotide can ameliorate hypoglycaemia, and may have anti-proliferative and tumour-stabilising effects in malignant pNETs that are surgically unresectable.

  • Paradoxical worsening of hypoglycaemia may occur with octreotide initiation and dose titration, necessitating close supervision and glucose monitoring.

  • PRRT is emerging as a therapeutic option with high efficacy and low toxicity.

Open access

Kamel Mohammedi, Charbel Abi Khalil, Sophie Olivier, Imane Benabad, Ronan Roussel and Michel Marre

Summary

Hypoglycemia is a common medical emergency. It is the most frequent complication induced by anti-diabetic treatment. However, it can be observed in other conditions unrelated to diabetes such as insulinoma, autoimmune disorders, and neoplasia. Herein, we report the case of a rare cause of severe and recurrent hypoglycemia in a 77-year-old woman with a malignant solitary fibrous tumor (MSFT). A 77-year-old woman was admitted to the emergency department for loss of consciousness induced by severe hypoglycemia. Her standard laboratory findings were unremarkable. HbA1c, albumin, renal, liver, thyroid, and adrenal function tests were normal. Cerebral CT scan was also normal. At the time of confirmed hypoglycemia, the serum level of insulin and C-peptide was low. On the basis of the past medical history and the absence of other comment etiologies, a paraneoplastic cause was suspected. Thus, the diagnosis of a non-islet cell tumor-induced hypoglycemia (NICTH) was established by the presence of incompletely processed precursors of IGF2 (big IGF2) in plasma electrophoresis. However, the IGF1 level was low. Therapy with corticosteroids improved hypoglycemia and clinical symptoms. NICTH is a rare cause of hypoglycemia. It should be considered in patients with mesenchymal or malignant epithelial tumors suffering from recurrent episodes of hypoglycemia. The diagnosis will be established in the case of low serum insulin concentrations and elevated levels of big IGF2. Treatment with corticosteroids, GH, or both can improve hypoglycemic symptoms and restore plasma glucose to normal levels.

Learning points

  • NICTH is a very rare condition that should be considered in patients known to have mesenchymal or malignant epithelial tumors and suffering from recurrent episodes of hypoglycemia.

  • The diagnosis of an NICTH is established on the basis of the hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia, the MSFT history, and the presence of paraneoplastic secretion of IGF1 or an immature form of IGF2.

  • Treatment with corticosteroids, GH, or both can improve hypoglycemic symptoms and restore plasma glucose to normal levels in NICTH.

Open access

Pinaki Dutta, Anuradha Aggarwal, Yashpal Gogate, Uma Nahar, Viral N Shah, Mandeep Singla, N Khandelwal and Anil Bhansali

Summary

We describe the clinical presentation, diagnostic and management issues in five cases of non-islet cell tumor hypoglycemia (NICTH), diagnosed at a tertiary care institute over a period of 15 years. The clinical, laboratory, and histopathological findings of these patients along with diagnostic utility of IGF2:IGF1 ratio are discussed. The mean age of presentation was 52 years, with a male predominance (3:2). Three patients presented with recurrent episodes of fasting hypoglycemia and it was detected in other two patients during hospitalization. Two patients had acromegaloid features that regressed following treatment. One patient had hypokalemia. Low levels of insulin, C-peptide, GH, and IGF1 were invariably found in all. The IGF2 level was elevated in only one patient; however, IGF2:IGF1 ratio was more than 10 in four of the five patients. The mean tumor size was 16.4 cm and mean weight was 3.6 kg. Four patients had mesenchymal tumors and one had epithelial tumor. NICTH is a rare cause of hypoglycemia. Hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia with low IGF1 and IGF2:IGF1 ratio more than 10 is suggestive of this entity.

Learning points

  • NICTH should be considered in patients presenting with tumor of mesenchymal origin and hypoglycemia.

  • Hypoinsulinemic hypoglycemia with low IGF1 is a strong biochemical evidence of NICTH.

  • IGF2:IGF1 ratio of more than 10 is a complementary investigation in the absence of an assay facility for IGF2.