Article

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor with ectopic adrenocorticotropin production upon second recurrence

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlín, Berlin, Germany
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology &amp Metabolism (Impact Factor: 6.31). 09/2004; 89(8):3731-6. DOI: 10.1210/jc.2003-032164
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We present a 54-yr-old woman with ectopic corticotropin syndrome caused by a neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas. At initial presentation, the patient suffered from diarrhea, heartburn, and nonspecific abdominal pain. There was no evidence of Cushing's syndrome. A neuroendocrine tumor in the head of the pancreas with metastases into peripancreatic lymph nodes was diagnosed and completely resected. Fourteen months later, abdominal computed tomography and scintigraphy with (111)In-labeled octreotide suggested relapse of the tumor. The patient again had no evidence of Cushing's syndrome. A second in toto tumor resection was performed. Another 8 months later, the patient developed forgetfulness, depressive episodes, muscle weakness, new-onset hypertension, hypokalemia, plethora, diabetes mellitus, polyuria, and weight loss. Endocrine testing suggested a source of ectopic ACTH production. An octreotide scan showed an intense uptake ventromedial of the left kidney, an area that showed a mass lateral of the superior mesenteric artery on abdominal magnetic resonance imaging. A complete pancreatectomy with splenectomy and left-sided adrenalectomy were performed. At this second relapse, this neuroendocrine tumor clinically had changed its hormonal profile. Immunohistochemically, in contrast to primary tumor and first relapse, we found strong immunostaining for ACTH in tumor cells of the second relapse and a MIB-1 index greater than 20%. To our knowledge, this is the first report describing a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor that started to secrete ACTH de novo at the time of the second relapse after two former complete tumor resections. This case underscores the pluripotency of neuroendocrine tumor cells and the importance of keeping in mind a possible shift in hormone production during tumor evolution and progression.

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