Ectopic ACTH syndrome caused by desmopressin-responsive thymic neuroendocrine tumor
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A 32-year-old Chinese woman with rapid weight gain and progressive edema was found to have typical Cushingoid features. Her endocrine data were consistent with a diagnosis of ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome. To differentiate ectopic ACTH syndrome (EAS) from Cushing’s disease (CD), various dynamic endocrine and imaging tests were performed. Her ACTH response was negative to corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and positive to desmopressin. Magnetic resonance imaging of the pituitary showed no mass lesion. Computed tomography scan of the chest revealed a large mass (21 × 15 mm) in the anterior mediastinum, where positron emission tomography showed accumulation of [<sup>18</sup>F] fluorodeoxyglucose. Selective venous sampling showed marked step-up in ACTH level in the internal thoracic vein but not in the cavernous sinus after CRH stimulation. These data are compatible with the diagnosis of EAS. The resected tumor was pathologically consistent with thymic neuroendocrine tumor (NET) positive for ACTH by immunohistochemistry and abundant V1b receptor gene expression by RT-PCR. Postoperatively, her circulating ACTH/cortisol levels became normalized, and responded to stimulation with CRH but not with desmopressin. Her Cushingoid appearance gradually disappeared, and she was free from recurrence 5 years after surgery. This is a rare case of desmopressin-responsive EAS caused by thymic NET with predominant V1b gene expression, which was successfully localized by imaging modalities combined with selective venous sampling.
- Endocrine Journal
Endocrine Journal 62(5), 441-447, 2015
The Japan Endocrine Society