Introduction: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare malignancy with poor prognosis. Most ACC cases are hormonally functional. Commonly produced hormones are cortisol, followed by adrenal androgens. Aldosterone secretion is quite rare (< 2%) (1). Co-secretion of multiple hormones is further rare. Case Presentation: A 59 year old female presented with progressive worsening hypertension. Initial biochemical evaluation confirmed primary hyperaldosteronism. Her potassium was low at 2.9 mEq/L (N: 3.5-5.3 meq/L). Aldosterone level was elevated at 23 ng/dL (N: < or = 28 ng/mL), renin value was 0.90 ng/mL/h (N: 0.25-5.82 ng/mL/h). Aldosterone Renin Ratio was 25. CT abdomen with and without contrast showed 2 lesions within the right adrenal gland. The larger nodule was 3.7 x 2.7 x 4.9 cm with an absolute washout of 61%. A smaller nodule was 2.3x1.8 cm with an absolute washout of approximately 64%. Left adrenal gland was unremarkable.
Further biochemical workup showed plasma catecholamines and metanephrines were normal. A random cortisol value was 22.8 mcg/dL (N: 3.0-16.0 mcg/dL) with a low ACTH level of 3.3 pg/mL (N: 7.2 - 63.3 pg/mL). Given suspicion for adrenal Cushing’s syndrome, we further obtained a 24 hour free urinary cortisol which was elevated at 84.1 mcg/24 h (N: 4-50 mcg/24 h). 8 am Cortisol after an overnight 1 mg Dexamethasone failed to suppress at 17.5 mcg/dL (n<1.8 mcg/dL). DHEAS level was low at 14.1 ug/dL (N: 29.4-220.5 ug/dL). The patient eventually underwent a right adrenalectomy. Post-operatively, her cortisol was suppressed at 1.9 mcg/dL (8 am ref range: 4-22 mcg/dL), and Hydrocortisone replacement dose was initiated. Surgical pathology report was consistent with adrenocortical carcinoma. The patient continues to follow-up with the endocrinology and oncology department for treatment. Conclusion: This case is particularly interesting given the co-secretion of both aldosterone and cortisol by an adrenocortical carcinoma which has been reported in only a few cases in literature. The case highlights the importance of completing a comprehensive biochemical workup pre-operatively in patients with suspicious adrenal mass. There should especially be a low threshold for initiating workup for cortisol hypersecretion as early intervention can help avoid an adrenal crisis in the post-operative period for such patients. A low DHEAS level should raise suspicion for cortisol hypersecretion in a patient with adrenal lesions. As ACTH is the primary stimulant of DHEA, the suppression of ACTH secretion in the setting of adrenal Cushing’s syndrome can contribute to a low DHEAS level. Reference 1.Else, T et al. Adrenocortical Carcinoma. Endocr Rev. 2014; 35(2):282-326.