Context: Nonpancreatic tumors may cause recurrent hypoglycemia known as nonislet cell tumor hypoglycemia. It is due to overproduction and secretion by the tumor of incompletely processed IGF-II, termed big IGF-II. We recently identified a patient with recurrent hypoglycemia and low insulin, but without elevated big IGF-II. Multiple small lung nodules were detected by computed tomography scan. An undifferentiated large-cell carcinoma was diagnosed from an axillary lymph node metastasis.
Objective: The objective was to investigate whether the patient's hypoglycemia was due to excessive IGF-I production by the tumor.
Methods: Serum IGF- I and IGF-II, insulin, and GH were measured by RIA; the distribution of IGFs between IGF binding protein complexes in serum was analyzed after neutral gel filtration. Tissue IGF-I was identified by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, and by RT-PCR after RNA extraction.
Results: Total and free serum IGF-I, but not total, free, and big IGF-II, was increased, and the IGF-I content of the two IGF binding protein complexes was elevated. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated IGF-I peptide in situ hybridization IGF-I mRNA in the lymph node metastasis. Combined GH/glucocorticoid treatment prevented hypoglycemia, but did not lower IGF-I. After chemotherapy with carboplatinum/etoposide, the lung nodules largely regressed, and serum IGF-I and the IGF-I content of the two binding protein complexes became normal. Hypoglycemia did not recur despite discontinuation of GH/glucocorticoid treatment.
Conclusion: Our findings are compatible with a new form of tumor hypoglycemia caused by circulating tumor-derived IGF-I.