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Open access

Diana Oliveira, Mara Ventura, Miguel Melo, Sandra Paiva and Francisco Carrilho

Summary

Addison’s disease (AD) is the most common endocrine manifestation of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), but it remains a very rare complication of the syndrome. It is caused by adrenal venous thrombosis and consequent hemorrhagic infarction or by spontaneous (without thrombosis) adrenal hemorrhage, usually occurring after surgery or anticoagulant therapy. We present a clinical case of a 36-year-old female patient with a previous diagnosis of APS. She presented with multiple thrombotic events, including spontaneous abortions. During evaluation by the third episode of abortion, a CT imaging revealed an adrenal hematoma, but the patient was discharged without further investigation. A few weeks later, she presented in the emergency department with manifestations suggestive of adrenal insufficiency. Based on that assumption, she started therapy with glucocorticoids, with significant clinical improvement. After stabilization, additional investigation confirmed AD and excluded other etiologies; she also started mineralocorticoid replacement. This case illustrates a rare complication of APS that, if misdiagnosed, may be life threatening. A high index of suspicion is necessary for its diagnosis, and prompt treatment is crucial to reduce the morbidity and mortality potentially associated.

Learning points:

  • AD is a rare but life-threatening complication of APS.

  • It is important to look for AD in patients with APS and a suggestive clinical scenario.

  • APS must be excluded in patients with primary adrenal insufficiency and adrenal imaging revealing thrombosis/hemorrhage.

  • Glucocorticoid therapy should be promptly initiated when AD is suspected.

  • Mineralocorticoid replacement must be started when there is confirmed aldosterone deficiency.

  • Hypertension is a common feature of APS; in patients with APS and AD, replacement therapy with glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids may jeopardize hypertension management.

Open access

Su Ann Tee, Earn Hui Gan, Mohamad Zaher Kanaan, David Ashley Price, Tim Hoare and Simon H S Pearce

Summary

Primary adrenal insufficiency secondary to syphilis is extremely rare, with only five cases being reported in the literature. We report a case of adrenal insufficiency as a manifestation of Treponema pallidum infection (tertiary syphilis). A 69-year-old, previously fit and well Caucasian male was found to have adrenal insufficiency after being admitted with weight loss, anorexia and postural dizziness resulting in a fall. Biochemical testing showed hyponatraemia, hyperkalaemia, and an inadequate response to Synacthen testing, with a peak cortisol level of 302 nmol/L after administration of 250 µg Synacthen. Abdominal imaging revealed bilateral adrenal hyperplasia with inguinal and retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy. He was started on hydrocortisone replacement; however, it was not until he re-attended ophthalmology with a red eye and visual loss 1 month later, that further work-up revealed the diagnosis of tertiary syphilis. Following a course of penicillin, repeat imaging 5 months later showed resolution of the abnormal radiological appearances. However, adrenal function has not recovered and 3 years following initial presentation, the patient remains on both glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid replacement. In conclusion, this case highlights the importance of considering syphilis as a potential differential diagnosis in patients presenting with adrenal insufficiency and bilateral adrenal masses, given the recent re-emergence of this condition. The relative ease of treating infectious causes of adrenal lesions makes accurate and timely diagnosis crucial.

Learning points:

  • Infectious causes, including syphilis, should be excluded before considering adrenalectomy or biopsy for any patient presenting with an adrenal mass.

  • It is important to perform a full infection screen including tests for human immunodeficiency virus, other blood-borne viruses and concurrent sexually transmitted diseases in patients presenting with bilateral adrenal hyperplasia with primary adrenal insufficiency.

  • Awareness of syphilis as a potential differential diagnosis is important, as it not only has a wide range of clinical presentations, but its prevalence has been increasing in recent times.

Open access

Ali A Zaied, Halis K Akturk, Richard W Joseph and Augustine S Lee

Summary

Nivolumab, a monoclonal antibody against programmed cell death-1 receptor, is increasingly used in advanced cancers. While nivolumab use enhances cancer therapy, it is associated with increased immune-related adverse events. We describe an elderly man who presented in ketoacidosis after receiving nivolumab for metastatic renal cell carcinoma. On presentation, he was hyperpneic and laboratory analyses showed hyperglycemia and anion-gapped metabolic acidosis consistent with diabetic ketoacidosis. No other precipitating factors, besides nivolumab, were identified. Pre-nivolumab blood glucose levels were normal. The patient responded to treatment with intravenous fluids, insulin and electrolyte replacement. He was diagnosed with insulin-dependent autoimmune diabetes mellitus secondary to nivolumab. Although nivolumab was stopped, he continued to require multiple insulin injection therapy till his last follow-up 7 months after presentation. Clinicians need to be alerted to the development of diabetes mellitus and diabetic ketoacidosis in patients receiving nivolumab.

Learning points:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis should be considered in the differential of patients presenting with metabolic acidosis following treatment with antibodies to programmed cell death-1 receptor (anti-PD-1).

  • Autoimmune islet cell damage is the presumed mechanism for how insulin requiring diabetes mellitus can develop de novo following administration of anti-PD-1.

  • Because anti-PD-1 works by the activation of T-cells and reduction of ‘self-tolerance’, other autoimmune disorders are likely to be increasingly recognized with increased use of these agents.

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

Ken Takeshima, Hiroyuki Ariyasu, Tatsuya Ishibashi, Shintaro Kawai, Shinsuke Uraki, Jinsoo Koh, Hidefumi Ito and Takashi Akamizu

Summary

Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is an autosomal dominant multisystem disease affecting muscles, the eyes and the endocrine organs. Diabetes mellitus and primary hypogonadism are endocrine manifestations typically seen in patients with DM1. Abnormalities of hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis have also been reported in some DM1 patients. We present a case of DM1 with a rare combination of multiple endocrinopathies; diabetes mellitus, a combined form of primary and secondary hypogonadism, and dysfunction of the HPA axis. In the present case, diabetes mellitus was characterized by severe insulin resistance with hyperinsulinemia. Glycemic control improved after modification of insulin sensitizers, such as metformin and pioglitazone. Hypogonadism was treated with testosterone replacement therapy. Notably, body composition analysis revealed increase in muscle mass and decrease in fat mass in our patient. This implies that manifestations of hypogonadism could be hidden by symptoms of myotonic dystrophy. Our patient had no symptoms associated with adrenal deficiency, so adrenal dysfunction was carefully followed up without hydrocortisone replacement therapy. In this report, we highlight the necessity for evaluation and treatment of multiple endocrinopathies in patients with DM1.

Learning points:

  • DM1 patients could be affected by a variety of multiple endocrinopathies.

  • Our patients with DM1 presented rare combinations of multiple endocrinopathies; diabetes mellitus, combined form of primary and secondary hypogonadism and dysfunction of HPA axis.

  • Testosterone treatment of hypogonadism in patients with DM1 could improve body composition.

  • The patients with DM1 should be assessed endocrine functions and treated depending on the degree of each endocrine dysfunction.

Open access

Hodaka Yamada, Shunsuke Funazaki, Masafumi Kakei, Kazuo Hara and San-e Ishikawa

Summary

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a critical complication of type 1 diabetes associated with water and electrolyte disorders. Here, we report a case of DKA with extreme hyperkalemia (9.0 mEq/L) in a patient with type 1 diabetes on hemodialysis. He had a left frontal cerebral infarction resulting in inability to manage his continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion pump. Electrocardiography showed typical changes of hyperkalemia, including absent P waves, prolonged QRS interval and tented T waves. There was no evidence of total body water deficit. After starting insulin and rapid hemodialysis, the serum potassium level was normalized. Although DKA may present with hypokalemia, rapid hemodialysis may be necessary to resolve severe hyperkalemia in a patient with renal failure.

Learning points:

  • Patients with type 1 diabetes on hemodialysis may develop ketoacidosis because of discontinuation of insulin treatment.

  • Patients on hemodialysis who develop ketoacidosis may have hyperkalemia because of anuria.

  • Absolute insulin deficit alters potassium distribution between the intracellular and extracellular space, and anuria abolishes urinary excretion of potassium.

  • Rapid hemodialysis along with intensive insulin therapy can improve hyperkalemia, while fluid infusions may worsen heart failure in patients with ketoacidosis who routinely require hemodialysis.

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

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.

Open access

N Amin, N S Alvi, J H Barth, H P Field, E Finlay, K Tyerman, S Frazer, G Savill, N P Wright, T Makaya and T Mushtaq

Summary

Type 1 pseudohypoaldosteronism (PHA) is a rare heterogeneous group of disorders characterised by resistance to aldosterone action. There is resultant salt wasting in the neonatal period, with hyperkalaemia and metabolic acidosis. Only after results confirm isolated resistance to aldosterone can the diagnosis of type 1 PHA be confidently made. Type 1 PHA can be further classified into i) renal type 1 (autosomal dominant (AD)) and ii) multiple target organ defect/systemic type 1 (autosomal recessive (AR)). The aim of this case series was to characterise the mode of presentation, management and short-term clinical outcomes of patients with PHA type 1. Case notes of newly diagnosed infants presenting with PHA type 1 were reviewed over a 5-year time period. Seven patients were diagnosed with PHA type 1. Initial presentation ranged from 4 to 28 days of age. Six had weight loss as a presenting feature. All subjects had hyperkalaemia, hyponatraemia, with elevated renin and aldosterone levels. Five patients have renal PHA type 1 and two patients have systemic PHA type, of whom one has had genetic testing to confirm the AR gene mutation on the SCNN1A gene. Renal PHA type 1 responds well to salt supplementation, whereas management of patients with systemic PHA type 1 proves more difficult as they are likely to get frequent episodes of electrolyte imbalance requiring urgent correction.

Learning points

  • Patients with type 1 PHA are likely to present in the neonatal period with hyponatraemia, hyperkalaemia and metabolic acidosis and can be diagnosed by the significantly elevated plasma renin activity and aldosterone levels.

  • The differential diagnosis of type 1 PHA includes adrenal disorders such as adrenal hypoplasia and congenital adrenal hyperplasia; thus, adrenal function including cortisol levels, 17-hydroxyprogesterone and a urinary steroid profile are required. Secondary (transient) causes of PHA may be due to urinary tract infections or renal anomalies; thus, urine culture and renal ultrasound scan are required respectively.

  • A differentiation between renal and systemic PHA type 1 may be made based on sodium requirements, ease of management of electrolyte imbalance, sweat test results and genetic testing.

  • Management of renal PHA type 1 is with sodium supplementation, and requirements often decrease with age.

  • Systemic PHA type 1 requires aggressive and intensive fluid and electrolyte management. Securing an enteral feeding route and i.v. access are essential to facilitate ongoing therapy.

  • In this area of the UK, the incidence of AD PHA and AR PHA was calculated to be 1:66 000 and 1:166 000 respectively.