GLP-1 and glucagon secretion from a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor causing diabetes and hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Sep;97(9):3039-45.

Roberts RE, Zhao M, Whitelaw BC, Ramage J, Diaz-Cano S, le Roux CW, Quaglia A, Huang GC, Aylwin SJ.

King’s College London School of Medicine, London SE1 1UL, United Kingdom.


CONTEXT: Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a gut peptide that promotes insulin release from pancreatic ß-cells and stimulates ß-cell hyperplasia. GLP-1 secretion causing hypoglycemia has been described once from an ovarian neuroendocrine tumor (NET) but has not been reported from a pancreatic NET (pNET).

OBJECTIVE: A 56-yr-old male with a previous diagnosis of diabetes presented with fasting hypoglycemia and was found to have a metastatic pNET secreting glucagon. Neither the primary tumor nor metastases stained for insulin, whereas the resected normal pancreas showed histological evidence of islet cell hyperplasia. We provide evidence that GLP-1 secretion from the tumor was the cause of hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia.

METHODS: GLP-1 levels were determined in the patient, and immunohistochemistry for GLP-1 was performed on the tumor metastases. Ex vivo tissue culture and a bioassay constructed by transplantation of tumor into nude mice were performed to examine the tumor secretory products and their effects on islet cell function.

RESULTS: The patient had high levels of glucagon and GLP-1 with an exaggerated GLP-1 response to oral glucose. Immunohistochemistry and primary tissue culture demonstrated secretion of glucagon and GLP-1 from the tumor metastases, whereas insulin secretion was almost undetectable. Ex vivo coculture of the tumor with normal human islets resulted in inhibition of insulin release, and transplanted mice developed impaired glucose tolerance.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first description of glucagon and GLP-1 secretion from a metastatic pNET causing sequential diabetes and hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia was caused by insulin secretion from hyperplastic ß-cells stimulated by tumor-derived GLP-1.

PMID: 22774207

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