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A Case of Paraneoplastic Cushing Syndrome Presenting as Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Syndrome

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      Abstract

      Carcinoid tumors are neuroendocrine tumors that mainly arise in the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and bronchi. Bronchopulmonary carcinoids have been associated with Cushing syndrome, which results from ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) secretion. We report the case of a 65-year-old man, a colonel in the US Air Force, with metastatic bronchopulmonary carcinoid tumors treated on a clinical trial who was hospitalized for complaints of increasing thirst, polydipsia, polyuria, weakness, and visual changes. Decompensated hyperglycemia suggested a diagnosis of hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS). Additional findings, which included hypokalemia, hypernatremia, hypertension, metabolic alkalosis, moon facies, and striae, raised a red flag for an ectopic ACTH syndrome. Elevated ACTH levels confirmed Cushing syndrome. Treatment with a fluid replacement and insulin drip resulted in immediate symptomatic improvement. Cushing syndrome should be considered in carcinoid patients with physical stigmata such as moon facies and striae. HHNS may be the presenting clinical feature in patients with impaired glucose metabolism.

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      Exogenous Cushing's syndrome and glucocorticoid withdrawal.

      Glucocorticoid therapy in various forms is extremely common for a wide range of inflammatory, autoimmune, and neoplastic disorders. It is therefore important for the physician to be aware of the possibility of both iatrogenic and factitious Cushing's syndrome. Although most common with oral therapy, it is also important to be alert to the fact that all forms of glucocorticoid delivery have the potential to cause Cushing's syndrome. Withdrawal from chronic glucocorticoid therapy presents significant challenges. These include the possibility of adrenal insufficiency after discontinuation of steroid therapy, recurrence of underlying disease as the glucocorticoid is being withdrawn, and the possibility of steroid withdrawal symptoms. Nonetheless, with patience and persistence, a reasonable approach to withdrawal of glucocorticoid therapy can be achieved.
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        Hypertension in Cushing's syndrome.

        Cushing's syndrome can be exogenous, resulting from the administration of glucocorticoids or adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), or endogenous, secondary to increased secretion of cortisol or ACTH. Hypertension is one of the most distinguishing features of endogenous Cushing's syndrome, as it is present in about 80% of adult patients and in almost half of children and adolescents patients. Hypertension results from the interplay of several pathophysiological mechanisms regulating plasma volume, peripheral vascular resistance and cardiac output, all of which may be increased. The therapeutic goal is to find and remove the cause of excess glucocorticoids, which, in most cases of endogenous Cushing's syndrome, is achieved surgically. Treatment of Cushing's syndrome usually results in resolution or amelioration of hypertension. However, some patients may not achieve normotension or may require a prolonged period of time for the correction of hypercortisolism. Therefore, therapeutic strategies for Cushing's-specific hypertension (to normalise blood pressure and decrease the duration of hypertension) are necessary to decrease the morbidity and mortality associated with this disorder. The various pathogenetic mechanisms that have been proposed for the development of glucocorticoid-induced hypertension in Cushing's syndrome and its management are discussed.
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          Increased proteolysis. An effect of increases in plasma cortisol within the physiologic range.

          Prolonged exposure to glucocorticoids in pharmacologic amounts results in muscle wasting, but whether changes in plasma cortisol within the physiologic range affect amino acid and protein metabolism in man has not been determined. To determine whether a physiologic increase in plasma cortisol increases proteolysis and the de novo synthesis of alanine, seven normal subjects were studied on two occasions during an 8-h infusion of either hydrocortisone sodium succinate (2 micrograms/kg X min) or saline. The rate of appearance (Ra) of leucine and alanine were estimated using [2H3]leucine and [2H3]alanine. In addition, the Ra of leucine nitrogen and the rate of transfer of leucine nitrogen to alanine were estimated using [15N]leucine. Plasma cortisol increased (10 +/- 1 to 42 +/- 4 micrograms/dl) during cortisol infusion and decreased (14 +/- 2 to 10 +/- 2 micrograms/dl) during saline infusion. No change was observed in plasma insulin, C-peptide, or glucagon during either saline or cortisol infusion. Plasma leucine concentration increased more (P less than 0.05) during cortisol infusion (120 +/- 1 to 203 +/- 21 microM) than saline (118 +/- 8 to 154 +/- 4 microM) as a result of a greater (P less than 0.01) increase in its Ra during cortisol infusion (1.47 +/- 0.08 to 1.81 +/- 0.08 mumol/kg X min for cortisol vs. 1.50 +/- 0.08 to 1.57 +/- 0.09 mumol/kg X min). Leucine nitrogen Ra increased (P less than 0.01) from 2.35 +/- 0.12 to 3.46 +/- 0.24 mumol/kg X min, but less so (P less than 0.05) during saline infusion (2.43 +/- 0.17 to 2.84 +/- 0.15 mumol/kg X min, P less than 0.01). Alanine Ra increased (P less than 0.05) during cortisol infusion but remained constant during saline infusion. During cortisol, but not during saline infusion, the rate and percentage of leucine nitrogen going to alanine increased (P less than 0.05). Thus, an increase in plasma cortisol within the physiologic range increases proteolysis and the de novo synthesis of alanine, a potential gluconeogenic substrate. Therefore, physiologic changes in plasma cortisol play a role in the regulation of whole body protein and amino acid metabolism in man.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            aWalter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
            bEpicentRx, Mountain View, California, USA
            Author notes
            *Bennett Thilagar, EpicentRx, 800 W. El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040 (USA), E-Mail bennett_thilagar@hotmail.com
            Journal
            CRO
            CRO
            10.1159/issn.1662-6575
            Case Reports in Oncology
            Case Rep Oncol
            S. Karger AG (Basel, Switzerland karger@ 123456karger.com http://www.karger.com )
            1662-6575
            January – April 2017
            06 April 2017
            : 10
            : 1
            : 321-324
            467390
            10.1159/000467390
            28512417
            PMC5422740 Case Rep Oncol 2017;10:321–324
            © 2017 The Author(s). Published by S. Karger AG, Basel

            This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC). Usage and distribution for commercial purposes requires written permission. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

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