Severe muscle weakness due to hypokalemia as a manifestation of small-cell carcinoma.
We describe the case of a 56-year-old man with severe muscle weakness due to heavy hypokalemia (serum potassium 1.44 mmol/l) associated with inappropriate kaliuria and alkalemia. Subsequent investigation revealed the presence of ectopic ACTH hypersecretion due to a small-cell lung carcinoma. A significant clinical/laboratory improvement was achieved following chemotherapy-induced regression of the primary tumor. The profound hypokalemia was probably the result of cortisol hypersecretion, which in concert with the ACTH-induced decreased 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity can exhibit an increased mineralocorticoid activity. In addition, other ACTH-dependent mineralocorticoids may play a contributory role in the development of severe hypokalemia. (+info)
Carcinoid-associated ectopic ACTH syndrome with variable response to octreotide.
The case is presented of a 31-year-old woman who developed florid clinical and biochemical Cushing's syndrome due to metastatic hepatic carcinoid tumour from a probable pancreatic primary. Hypercortisolaemia was controlled with metyrapone and ketoconazole, but high doses of octreotide failed to affect plasma cortisol and urinary 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5HIAA) levels, or prevent rapid tumour growth. Hepatic polystyrene embolisation failed, and she was treated by liver transplantation with initial excellent results, and normalisation of cortisol and 5HIAA levels. Ten months later, however, she relapsed with bony and pelvic tumour recurrence, and high and symptomatic levels of cortisol and 5HIAA. At this time, octreotide in similar doses to those used previously appeared to normalise her biochemically, although she died soon after. This variable responsiveness to octreotide could be related to somatostatin receptor changes, or cyclical tumour secretion patterns. (+info)
Marked increase in plasma ACTH with tumor reduction after chemotherapy in ectopic ACTH syndrome.
We report on a case of rapid and marked hormone release as a result of rapid tumor reduction due to chemotherapy in a 36-year-old woman with ectopic ACTH syndrome due to small cell lung cancer. Treatment of the cancer with cisplatin and etoposide resulted in an 80% reduction in tumor size on computed tomographic scan within two weeks. Concurrently, plasma ACTH exhibited an unexpected and astonishing increase from 373 pg/ml before treatment to more than 1200 pg/ml. There were no biochemical characteristics observed in tumor lysis syndrome of solid tumors such as azotemia, increased LDH and hyperkalemia. The present case indicates that anticancer chemotherapy instituted in patients with ectopic ACTH syndrome could result in an acute increase of plasma ACTH and exacerbation of hypercortisolism, similar to tumor lysis syndrome, which is a potentially fatal complication following anti-cancer chemotherapy. (+info)
Is whole-lung CT scanning still necessary in all cases of ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome in the era of petrosal sinus sampling?
We reviewed 31 patients in whom both bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling without CRH stimulation, and a CT scan of the lungs were done. Twenty-five had normal lung CT scans, of whom 23 had a higher inferior petrosal sinus: peripheral ACTH ratio > or = 1.5. After careful follow-up, none was subsequently shown to have ectopic ACTH syndrome. Six had abnormal lung CT scans, of whom two had ratios > or = 1.5. In these two patients, other investigations suggested pituitary disease, and pituitary surgery led to apparent cure. Of the remaining four patients, who had ratios < 1.5, two had incidental lung findings, and pituitary abnormalities were demonstrated at pituitary surgery. The third underwent bilateral adrenalectomy, and no evidence of ectopic ACTH syndrome has emerged as yet after 4 years follow-up. The fourth had a small-cell carcinoma of the lung, confirmed histologically. Our series suggests that whole-lung CT scanning is only necessary in cases of ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome where bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling has not demonstrated a significant increase in petrosal sinus ACTH levels as compared with the peripheral level. Thus, in our experience the test is now only necessary in those patients (approximately 25%) where the ratio is < or = 1.5. (+info)
Thymic hyperplasia as a source of ectopic ACTH production.
A 26 year-old man with suspected Cushing's disease underwent transsphenoidal exploration of the pituitary without any evidence of microadenoma or hyperplasia. Progressive hypercortisolism necessitated bilateral adrenalectomy. Postoperatively, skin pigmentation gradually developed with a marked elevation of plasma ACTH levels, and CT scanning uncovered a thymic mass. Following removal of the thymic mass, skin pigmentation disappeared and plasma ACTH levels fell to normal. The excised mass was found to be a benign thymic hyperplasia without epithelial or carcinoid tumor cells. However, gel chromatography showed that the thymic tissue extract contained high ACTH content comparable to that of ectopic ACTH-producing tumors with a major component corresponding to ACTH(1-39). Northern blot analysis and in situ hybridization revealed the expression of proopiomelanocortin transcripts in lymphocytes of thymic hyperplasia. This report suggests that lymphocytes in thymic hyperplasia are the most likely site of deregulated ACTH expression causing ectopic ACTH syndrome. (+info)
Clinical implications of glucocorticoid metabolism by 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases in target tissues.
11beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (11beta-HSD) are microsomal enzymes that catalyze the conversion of active glucocorticoids (GC) to their inactive 11-dehydro products and vice versa. Two isoenzymes of 11beta-HSD have been characterized and cloned in human tissues. The tissue-specific metabolism of GC by these enzymes is important for mineralocorticoid (MC) and GC receptor occupancy and seems to play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of diseases such as apparent MC excess syndrome, and may play roles in hypertension, obesity and impaired hepatic glucose homeostasis. This article reviews the literature and examines the role and importance of 11beta-HSD in humans. (+info)
A new generation IRMA for ACTH with improved specificity: validation in various physiological and pathological conditions.
OBJECTIVE: Measurement of plasma ACTH is a key step for the exploration of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal disorders. To further improve ACTH recognition a new generation of ACTH IRMA was developed using antibodies directed towards succinylated ACTH (sACTH IRMA). DESIGN: The usefulness of this assay was compared with that of another commercially available ACTH IRMA assay using intact ACTH (ELSA-ACTH) in various pathophysiological situations: patients with low ACTH plasma levels, high ACTH plasma levels with normal or tumoural pituitaries, or ectopic ACTH syndrome, and pregnant women with high proopiomelanocortin (POMC) plasma levels. METHODS: All plasma samples were assayed simultaneously with the two different IRMAs. Comparisons were assessed by plotting the results along the theoretical line of identical values, and by the graphical method of Bland and Altman. RESULTS: In the ELSA-ACTH IRMA, CLIP (or ACTH18-39) showed true cross-reactivity, and alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone and purified POMC both interfered and induced falsely lower ACTH results; in the sACTH IRMA no peptide showed any cross-reactivity, and only extremely high values of CLIP (50 000 pg/ml) interfered and induced falsely lower ACTH results. In ACTH hypersecretory syndromes, of tumoural (Cushing's disease, ectopic ACTH secretion) or non-tumoural (Addison's disease, congenital adrenal hyperplasia) origins a good agreement between the two assays was observed except for very high ACTH plasma values (above 1000 pg/ml) and in some tumours where the sACTH IRMA yielded lower results; in some cases, the presence of circulating CLIP, demonstrated by HPLC studies, may contribute to this discrepancy. It is also likely that the calibration of the ELSA-ACTH kit itself generates higher ACTH values. In normal pregnant women both IRMAs gave highly correlated values, yet lower results were obtained with the sACTH IRMA. CONCLUSION: These data show that the sACTH IRMA has improved qualities of specificity and usefulness for rapid assessment of ACTH plasma levels. (+info)
In a 37-year-old man who had Cushing's syndrome, investigations, including overnight dexamethasone suppression test, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) test, pituitary MRI and inferior petrosal sinus sampling suggested the presence of ectopic adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) production. Interestingly, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) increased plasma ACTH from 73 pg/ml to 708 pg/ml at 15 min. Furthermore, desmopressin also increased plasma ACTH whereas CRH and thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) had no effect. Such paradoxical responses of plasma ACTH were observed repeatedly. A thoracic CT scan revealed a right anterior mediastinal mass, which was surgically resected. Histological and immunohistochemical examination confirmed that the tumor was an ACTH-producing carcinoid. ACTH and cortisol decreased immediately following surgery. Neither desmopressin nor GnRH administration resulted in elevation of plasma ACTH while ACTH-responsiveness to dexamethasone and CRH was restored. To our knowledge, this is the first report documenting GnRH responsiveness in ectopic ACTH syndrome. (+info)