Primary bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia is a rare cause of Cushing's syndrome characterized by the presence of bilateral secretory adrenal nodules. Recent studies have shown that primary bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia is caused by combined germline and somatic mutations of the ARMC5 gene. Exophthalmos is an underappreciated sign of Cushing's syndrome.
A 52-year-old Chinese woman with progressively worsening bilateral proptosis presented to our hospital. Subsequently she was diagnosed as having primary bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia and underwent bilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy. Genomic deoxyribonucleic acid was isolated from lymphocytes as well as seven different adrenal nodules and the ARMC5 sequence was determined by Sanger sequencing. We identified one heterozygous ARMC5 germline mutation c.682C>T (p. Gln228*) and five heterozygous somatic mutations (c.310delG, c.347_357del11, c.267delC, c.283_289del7, and c.205-322del118) in five different adrenal nodules. All mutations are novel and were not found in any of the available online databases. To test whether the ARMC5 mutation induced messenger ribonucleic acid decay, real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction was performed on patient and control adrenal tissue. We found that the adrenal cortex of our patient showed a low ARMC5 messenger ribonucleic acid expression compared with normal adrenal cortex, possibly as a result of nonsense-mediated messenger ribonucleic acid decay CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated extensive genetic diversity of ARMC5 in a patient with primary bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia that started with exophthalmos, which contributes to further understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease. Early recognition of atypical symptoms and screening for ARMC5 mutation in patients with primary bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia has important clinical implications for the diagnosis and genetic counseling.