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BMJ Case Rep. 2010; 2010: bcr11.2009.2419.
Published online 2010 May 13. doi:  10.1136/bcr.11.2009.2419
PMCID: PMC3047513
Reminder of important clinical lesson

X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy presenting as Addison’s disease

Abstract

We report the case of a young man with a history of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and mild cognitive impairment who presented with chronic fatigue, anorexia and progressive darkening of the skin. On laboratory testing, severely depressed concentrations of morning cortisol, along with highly elevated values of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) revealed primary adrenal insufficiency as the primary cause of the patient’s symptomatology. Imaging of the brain showed altered signal intensities in the parieto-occipital regions of the brain. The demonstration of increased very long chain fatty acids (VLCFA) established the diagnosis of adolescent X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD). Presenting at an advanced yet slowly progressive stage the patient was not a suitable candidate for haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), and treatment focused on hormone replacement therapy, family counselling and supportive care. On follow-up visits within the following year, fatigue had diminished and there was no evidence of progressive neurological deficits. However, exacerbation of the psychiatric symptomatology resulted in admittance to a psychiatric ward.


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