The History of Cystic Fibrosis by Dr James Littlewood OBE.

 

Arnold-Chiari malformation

Acne

Aquagenic wrinkling

Acrodermatitis enteropathica–like dermatitis

Amyloidosis

Bronchiectasis

Chopin’s illness

Crohn’s

Chronic bronchitis

Cutaneous necrotising venulitis

Down's syndrome

Facial palsy

Gout

Intracranial hypertension

Kartagener’s syndrome

Kwashiorkor

Munchausen by proxy

Pain

Silver-Russell dwarfism

Sleep apnoea

Trisomy-21

Urinary incontinence

Vasculitis

Vulvovaginal candidiasis

 

1959 Brown NM, Smith AN. Kartagener's syndrome with cystic fibrosis. BMJ 1959; 2(5154):725-728 [PubMed]

Fig. 1: An example of Kartagener's syndrome and CF from a later paper (Burnell & Robertson, 1974 below).

A man aged 20 years from Glasgow had appendicitis and was found to have CF proven by extensive investigation including a sweat chloride of 135-150 meq/l and sodium of 155-165 meq/l. He had suffered chronic ill health from childhood with poor growth and bronchiectasis, situs invertus and sinusitis – a syndrome described by Kartagener in 1933 (Kartagener M. Beitr Klin Tuberk 1933; 83:489) .

 

1962 Muir D. Batten J. Simon G. Mucoviscidosis and adult chronic bronchitis. Their possible relationship. Lancet 1962; i: 181-3. [PubMed]
One hundred adults with chronic bronchitis, 42 patients with other chest diseases and 25 controls were screened with the fingerprint method for raised chloride levels in the sweat (method of Shwachman & Gahm, 1956 above). None of the patients had excessive sweat chloride levels as judged by the plate test and the authors concluded that cystic fibrosis, in the homozygous state, could not be implicated as a cause of their chronic bronchitis.


It was reasonable to search for people with CF amongst those with similar chronic disorders. As in the present study, usually there were no patients with CF amongst the patients studied. Later this group, at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, also failed to find an increase in respiratory disease amongst obligate heterozygotes for CF – that is to say the parents of people who had cystic fibrosis (Batten et al, 1963 below).

 

1974 Burnell RH, Robertson EF. Cystic fibrosis in a patient with Kartageners Syndrome. Am J Dis Child 1974; 127:746-747. [PubMed]
A report from Adelaide Children’s Hospital, Australia. Said to be the third report of this combination with Kartageners syndrome of situs inversus totalis, bronchiectasis, and recurrent sinusitis with or without nasal polyps (figure 1). A white boy aged six months had “bronchopneumonia and neglect”. The lowest sweat electrolyte values were sodium 96 and chloride 80 meq/l. The duodenal biopsy showing partial villous atrophy which was rather puzzling and not discussed by the authors. The similarity of the symptoms of the two conditions, CF and Kartagener’s, is discussed. The two previous cases were doubtful. The authors advise excluding CF in all people with Kartagener’s syndrome. (Also Brown & Smith, 1959 above),

 

1974 Fluge G, Aarskog D. Silver-Russell dwarfism and cystic fibrosis. Am J Dis Child 1974; 127:760-761. [PubMed]
A Norwegian girl aged seven years with CF and the typical features of Silver-Russell dwarfism. Intestinal malabsorption was documented at two years and no effect noted from a gluten free diet. Full investigation at six years showed positive sweat tests (Cl 77-114 & Na 82-137 meq/l) diagnostic of CF and confirmed the features of S-R dwarfism. A previous example of this association had been published by Taussig (Am J Dis Child 1973; 125:495-503).

 

1979 Soter NA, Mihm MC, Colten HR. Cutaneous necrotising venulitis in patients with cystic fibrosis. J Pediatr 1979; 95:197-201. [PubMed]
Two patients developed palpable purpura late in the course of their disease. Biopsies showed necrotising venulitis with perivenular infiltrate composed of neutrophils, fibrin hypogranulated mast cells and endothelial cell necrosis. Circulating immune complexes were detected. A variety of immunological abnormalities have been described in such patients. (Also Finnegan MJ et al, Quart J Med1989; 72:609-621.[PubMed]; Hodson ME. J R Soc Med 1992; 85 (Suppl 19):38-40.[PubMed]).

 

1985 Castile R, Shwachman H, Travis W, Hadley CA, Warwick W, Missmahl HP. Amyloidosis as a complication of cystic fibrosis. Am J Dis Child 1985; 139:728-732. [PubMed]
Three patients with amyloidosis complicating CF are reported to add to the six patients previously recorded. The presenting problem was proteinuria in five patients, enlarged thyroid in three patients, and hepatosplenomegaly in one patient. The progression of proteinuria to nephrotic syndrome and oedema occurred in eight of the nine patients and indicated a very poor prognosis. The kidneys, adrenal glands, spleen, thyroid gland, liver, heart, and bowel were most frequently involved. Renal involvement was a frequent and devastating complication of amyloidosis in patients with cystic fibrosis. Amyloidosis is a surprisingly rare complication of cystic fibrosis considering the severity and duration of pulmonary sepsis in most patients.Two cases had been reported by Ristow SC, et al, (1977; 131:886-888.[PubMed]) and others have been reported subsequently. Often the renal or thyroid problems are associated.

 

1986 Orenstein DM, Wasserman AL. Munchausen syndrome by proxy simulating cystic fibrosis. Pediatrics 1986; 78:621-624. [PubMed]
Professor Sir Roy Meadow described Munchausen by proxy in 1977 (Meadow R. Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The hinterland of child abuse. Lancet 1977; ii: 343-345.[PubMed] & Meadow R. Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Arch Dis Child 1982; 57:92-98.[PubMed]).

This is the first report where CF was the falsified disorder. The mother falsified the history of her child, cunningly altered sweat tests and stool fat analyses and stole sputum from patients with CF to make her child appear to have cystic fibrosis. Previous reports of the syndrome had concerned single signs or symptoms but the present case involved the complex features of a multisystem genetic disorder.
Subsequently ten further reports of Munchausen or Munchausen by proxy with CF of the falsified disorder appeared in the literature up to 2008.

 

1993 Phillips RJ, Crock CM, Dillon MJ, Clayton PT, Curran A, Harper JI. Cystic fibrosis presenting as kwashiorkor with florid skin rash. Arch Dis Child 1993; 69:446-448. [PubMed]
Two infants with a florid erythematous rash and generalised oedema, hypoalbuminaemia, and anaemia were found to have cystic fibrosis. This rare presentation is associated with false negative sweat tests, delays in diagnosis, and a considerable mortality. The authors suggested that this presentation represents a manifestation of kwashiorkor secondary to intestinal malabsorption.

 

1994 Sawyer S, Bowes G, Phelan PD. Vulvovaginal candidiasis in young women with cystic fibrosis. BMJ 1994; 308:1609. [PubMed]
Vulvovaginal candidiasis was more common in 55 women with CF than in controls (13 vs.4) and more difficult to treat. Many women with CF had recognized the association of the Candida infection with their use of antibiotics. The authors suggested women with CF should be given routine advice about the possibility of candidiasis.


This was an important paper as it is unlikely that women would be asked about such problems in a busy CF clinic for adults which are often “chest orientated” – yet adequate treatment of the candidiasis would significantly improve the patient’s quality of life. Somewhat analogous to this problem was the later recognition of the increased incidence of urinary incontinence in women with CF (see Cornacchia et al, 2001).

 

2000 Kostuch M, Semczuk A, Szarewicz-Adamczyk W, Gasowska-Giszczak U, Wojcierowski J, Kulczycki L. Detection of CFTR gene mutations in patients suffering from chronic bronchitis. Arch Med Res 2000; 31: 97-100. [PubMed]
The purpose of this study from Poland was to search for CF gene mutations in patients suffering from chronic bronchitis. No less than five of 32 (16%) patients admitted to the Lublin School of Medicine, Poland between 1995 and 1996 with chronic bronchitis had CF gene mutations, all within the DeltaF508 region of the CFTR gene. All positive samples were obtained from patients heterozygous for the DeltaF508 mutation. The presence of the DeltaF508 mutation was considered statistically significant when the study group was compared to the study of Poland's general population. The results suggested an increased presence of the DeltaF508 mutation in Polish patients suffering from chronic bronchitis.

Earlier clinical studies using sweat plate method from the UK did not show people with unrecognised or mild CF were present among patients considered to have chronic bronchitis (Muir D et al. 1962 above). Also in another study, perhaps more relevant to the present report, there was no increase in the frequency of chronic bronchitis among obligate CF heterozygotes (Batten et al, 1963 above). However, the prevalence of chronic bronchitis was very high in the UK general population at that time (presumably due to the high proportion of smokers and atmospheric pollution) and this may have obscured the influence of the CF carrier state. More recently complete mutational screening of 120 patients with chronic pulmonary disease detected mutations in 11/23 disseminated bronchiectasis, 7/25 emphysema, 5/27 chronic bronchitis, 5/26 lung cancer, 5/8 sarcoidosis (Bombieri et al, 1998 [PubMed]).  In a more recent study 17.74% of 31 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease had a CFTR mutation (Divac et al, 2004. [PubMed]). Although others searching for only the six common mutations found no increase in CFTR mutations in 100 patients with chronic bronchitis (Entzian P et al, 1995. [PubMed]). However,  5/11 non-CF individuals who had allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) had one CFTR mutation (Miller PW et al, 1996. [PubMed]
Also CFTR function has been reported as significantly depressed in smokers (Cantin AM et al. Am J Resp Crit Care Med 2006; 173:1139-1144. [PubMed])

 

2001 Cornacchia M, Zenorini A, Perobelli S, Zanolla L, Mastella G, Braggion C. Prevalence of urinary incontinence in women with cystic fibrosis. BJU Internat 2001; 88: 44-48. [PubMed]
Of 176 women with CF, 35% were occasionally incontinent of urine but 24% were regularly incontinent. As urine loss is likely to be an under-reported problem, particularly in a CF clinic devoted to mainly chest problems, the authors suggest that women with CF should be asked directly about urinary incontinence as part of their routine follow-up. Pelvic floor muscle exercises were said to help. Also there was a similar report from Manchester Adult CF clinic (Orr A et al. BMJ 2001; 322:1521[PubMed]) and a further one showing some response to pelvic floor muscle exercises (McVean RJ et al. J Cyst Fibros 2003; 2:171-176.[PubMed]).

These are really important reports which would improve the recognition of a distressing and relatively common symptom in women with CF which may go unreported and cause considerable distress for many years.

 

2001 Saglani S, Bush A. Cystic fibrosis and Down's syndrome: not always a poor prognosis. Pediatr Pulmonol 2001; 31:321-322. [PubMed]
A child developed a bronchiolitis-like illness and was found to have mosaic Down's syndrome (diagnosed on karyotype) and also cystic fibrosis, diagnosed on the basis of a high sweat osmolality (247 mosmoles/kg sweat; normal, 62-137) and a homozygous delta F508 genotype. Despite two potentially life-threatening conditions, the child is doing well at the age of 7 years, despite pancreatic insufficiency.

 

2005 Koh JL, Harrison D, Palermo TM, Turner H, McGraw T. Assessment of acute and chronic pain symptoms in children with cystic fibrosis. Pediatr Pulmonol 2005; 40:330-335.[PubMed]
The aims of this study were to: 1) assess acute and chronic pain symptoms as reported by children with CF, and 2) examine the relationship between pain symptoms and disease severity as measured by percentage of forced expired volume in 1 sec (FEV1%). Forty-six children completed a self-report questionnaire assessing characteristics of chronic disease-related pain (frequency, intensity, duration, associated emotional upset, and location of pain). Forty-six percent of the sample described pain occurring at least once per week. A small subgroup of children reported longer-lasting and moderately intense pain. Children with chest pain were found to be particularly at risk for experiencing more functional limitations and a significantly lower FEV1% compared to children without chest pain. Disease-related pain is common for children and adolescents with CF, suggesting that pain assessment should be a routine part of their clinical care.

Pain appears to be a common problem in people with CF and definitely related to the disease severity. This article provides a useful up to date review of the subject which is of importance for many people with CF.

 

2006 Hayes D Jr. Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: a potential cause of lower airway obstruction in cystic fibrosis. Sleep Medicine 2006; 7:73-75.[PubMed]
A six-year-old healthy female with cystic fibrosis (CF) and pancreatic sufficiency presented with cough, weight loss, and lung function decline. Further history suggested obstructive sleep apnea, and nocturnal polysomnography (NPSG) confirmed this. Adenotonsillectomy resulted in resolution of clinical symptoms with return of normal lung function. This case establishes that obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) may be a potential cause of lower airway inflammation and resulting weight loss in the young CF population.

It is useful to remember that increase in respiratory symptoms and signs in CF may be related to the upper respiratory tract which may be obstructed by the huge tonsils and adenoids. In such cases adenotonsillectomy may be followed by dramatic improvement even in young children not only in overnight oxygen saturations but also in weight increase and general wellbeing.

 

2006 Prasad SA, Balfour-Lynn IM, Carr SB, Madge SL. A comparison of prevalence of urinary incontinence in girls with cystic fibrosis, asthma and healthy controls. Pediatr Pulmonol 2006; 41:1065-1068. [PubMed]
Another study on urinary incontinence - this time on younger patients. In recent years the physiotherapists have taken an increasing interest in bladder dysfunction in CF. Girls with CF aged 11 to 17 years were studied and urinary incontinence was reported by 17/51 (33%) girls, compared with only 4/25 (16%) of those with asthma and 2/27 (7%) healthy controls. The problem was associated with increasing severity of lung disease. (also described in adults with CF by Cornacchia et al, 2001 above; Orr A et al. BMJ; 322:1521).

 

2006 Ziedalski TM, Kao PN, Henig NR, Jacobs SS, Ruoss SJ. Prospective analysis of cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator mutations in adults with bronchiectasis or pulmonary nontuberculous mycobacterial infection. Chest 2006; 130:995-1002.[PubMed]
Fifty adult patients at Stanford University Medical Center with a diagnosis of bronchiectasis and/or pulmonary NTM infection were prospectively characterized by sweat chloride measurement, comprehensive mutational analysis of CFTR, and sputum culture results. A new diagnosis of cystic fibrosis (CF) was established in 10 patients (20%). Sweat chloride concentration was elevated > 60 mEq/dL (diagnostic of CF) in seven patients (14%), and from 40 to 60 mEq/dL in eight patients (16%).

The frequency of CFTR mutations was elevated above that expected in the general population: heterozygous DeltaF508 (12% vs 3%), R75Q (14% vs 1%), and intron 8 5T (17% vs 5 to 10%).


2009 Flume PA, Ciolino J, Gray S, Lester MK. Patient-reported pain and impaired sleep quality in adult patients with cystic fibrosis. J Cyst Fibros 2009; 8:321-325.[PubMed]
.Sleep impairment has been described in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Pain is a known cause of sleep disturbance and as pain is commonly reported in patients with CF, we sought to find an association between impaired sleep quality and pain. Fifty adult CF patients completed surveys of pain and sleep quality. We found that pain and poor sleep quality are reported in a majority of adult CF patients and there is a strong correlation between the two. This will have important clinical implications in the evaluation and treatment of adult patients.

There are more reports and attention paid to chronic pain which is very common in people with CF. In this study from the USA the pain was contributing significantly to sleep disturbance in many patients

 

2009 Berk DR, Ciliberto HM, Sweet SC, Ferkol TW, Bayliss SJ. Aquagenic wrinkling of the palms in cystic fibrosis: comparison with controls and genotype-phenotype correlations. Arch Dermatol 2009; 145:1296-1299.

The biggest article so far on wrinkling confirms the association between aquagenic wrinkling of the palms and CF. Among patients with CF, greater AWP occurs in those who are homozygous for the DeltaF508 mutation.

 

2009 Perera E, Massie J, Phillips RJ. Treatment of acne with oral isotretinoin in patients with cystic fibrosis. Arch Dis Child 2009; 94:583-586.[PubMed]
Theoretical concerns about liver disease and vitamin A deficiency have limited the use of oral isotretinoin for troublesome acne in adolescents with cystic fibrosis. Oral isotretinoin was administered to nine patients with cystic fibrosis who had troublesome acne unresponsive to antibiotics. All patients were followed for 1-4 years after cessation of treatment. Isotretinoin treatment cleared active acne lesions in all patients. It was well tolerated, and no patient had significant side effects. All nine patients were pleased or delighted with the improvement in their skin. Adolescents with cystic fibrosis and acne can be treated with oral isotretinoin. Oral isotretinoin should be considered for adolescents with cystic fibrosis who have acne associated with scarring, acne not clearing with topical and antibiotic treatment, acne associated with depression or severe cystic acne.

This is a helpful paper for those considering the use of isotretinoin but who may have reservations regarding liver toxicity.

 

2010 Vincenzi F, Bizzarri B, Ghiselli A, de' Angelis N, Fornaroli F, de' Angelis GL. Cystic fibrosis and Crohn's disease: successful treatment and long term remission with infliximab. World J Gastroenterol 2010; 16:1924-7. [PubMed]

The association of cystic fibrosis and Crohn's disease (CD) is well known, but to date, there are very few cases in the literature of patients suffering from mucoviscidosis who have required treatment with infliximab. The authors report the case of a 23-year-old patient suffering from cystic fibrosis and severe CD treated successfully with infliximab without any infective complications or worsening of the pulmonary disease and with a long term (2 years) complete remission

Infliximab is a monoclonal antibody against tumour necrosis factor alpha used to treat autoimmune disease.

 

2010 Molyneux ID, Moon T, Webb AK, Morice AH. Treatment of cystic fibrosis associated cutaneous vasculitis with chloroquine. J Cyst Fibros 2010; 9:439-441. [PubMed]

Vasculitis is a well recognised complication of cystic fibrosis. Corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment but some cases can be resistant and may require additional disease modifying agents. The authors describe a case of steroid resistant cutaneous vasculitis which was successfully treated with chloroquine in addition to corticosteroids and a subsequent relapse successfully treated with chloroquine alone.

 

2010 Tolland JP, Boyle J, Hall V, McKenna KE, Elborn JS. Aquagenic wrinkling of the palms in an adult cystic fibrosis population. Dermatology 2010; 221:326-330. [PubMed]
A study to determine the incidence and characteristics of aquagenic wrinkling of the palms (AWP) in the adult CF population in Northern Ireland. 105 patients were asked whether they noticed excess wrinkling of the hands when exposed to water. If they answered 'yes', further questions were asked regarding clinical characteristics. The atopic status, CF genotype and drug history were recorded for each patient. Formal testing of 7 patients was carried out. 43 of 105 (41%) described AWP; 20 were male and 23 were female. There was no association with genotype, atopy or concomitant drug intake. The authors suggest that condition is under reported in CF.

The first descriptions of finger wrinkling caused great excitement as there was a suggestion the sign may be related to the basic defect which was quite unknown at the time (Elliott RB, 1974 [PubMed]; Norman AP et al, 1974 [PubMed]); Johns M K (J Med Biol Illus 1975; 25:205-210.[PubMed]) suggested the wrinkling was due to the excessive salt concentration which increased the water binding capacity of keratin. Later it was suggested as a test of autonomic function (Bull C, Henry JA BMJ 1977; 551-552.[PubMed]).

In the Leeds CF unit Jeanette Firth, the CF centre clinic nurse, performed the test under controlled conditions on many children with CF who were attending the unit for Comprehensive Assessments of their CF and confirmed the phenomenon, but disappointingly we found it quite unrelated to the sweat electrolyte levels or any other clinical or laboratory feature of the patient’s condition (unpublished data). Subsequently there was considerable discussion as to autonomic abnormalities in CF of which skin wrinkling is a feature (see Davies et al, 1980).

 

2010 Gild R, Clay CD, Morey S. Aquagenic wrinkling of the palms in cystic fibrosis and the cystic fibrosis carrier state: a case-control study. Brit J Dermatol 2010; 163:1082- 1084. [PubMed]
Aquagenic wrinkling of the palms (AWP) is hyperwrinkling occurring within 3 min of exposure to water. It is associated with cystic fibrosis (CF) and has been reported in a CF carrier. Twenty-one patients, 13 carriers and 15 controls were studied. Mean time to wrinkling was 11 min in controls, 7 min in carriers and 2 min in patients with CF. AWP was not seen in controls, but occurred in 80% of patients with CF and 25% of carriers. There was a significant difference between groups (P < 0. 001). The study demonstrated that AWP is a sign of both CF and the carrier state. It suggests that time to wrinkling decreases with decreased CFTR protein function. Patients presenting with AWP should be offered screening for both CF and the carrier state.

Apologies for including yet another paper on finger wrinkling in CF which was first described by Professor Bob Elliott in New Zealand in 1974 (Lancet 1974; ii: 108. above). This present study is the first to show that finger wrinkling was increased in some 25% of CF carriers. In an unpublished study from Leeds by Jeanette Firth there was no relation between the wrinkling time and the sweat electrolyte values. However, it would seem wise to exclude CF in people with significant aquagenic finger wrinkling. Also recently Garcon-Michel N et al,(Brit J Dermatol 2010; 163:162-166. [PubMed]) found the sign in 41% of people with CF.

 

2010 Guy EL, Peckham DG, Brownlee KG, Conway SP, Lee TW. Cystic fibrosis coexisting with trisomy 21. J Cyst Fibros 2010; 9:330-331. [PubMed]
Previous reports of children with coexistence of cystic fibrosis and full trisomy 21 died in infancy and the oldest reported survivor being 6 years of age. This report describes a young man with genetically confirmed trisomy 21 and homozygous for the F508del cystic fibrosis mutation. Despite the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis being delayed until the age of 2 years he has reached the age of 25 years. However he has poor lung function and a continuous ambulatory oxygen requirement.

The first report of CF in a patient with Down's syndrome was that of Milunsky A. Pediatrics 1968; 42:501-4.

 

2011 Patel AJ, Raol VH, Jea A. Rare association between cystic fibrosis, Chiari I malformation, and hydrocephalus in a baby: a case report and review of the literature. J Med Case Reports [Electronic Resource] 2011; 5:366.[PubMed]
The ninth case of a baby with cystic fibrosis and Chiari I malformation, in this case in a 10-month-old, full-term Caucasian baby boy. There was developmental delay, macrocephaly, bulging anterior fontanelle, and papilledema. An MRI scan demonstrated an extensive Chiari I malformation with effacement of the fourth ventricle, obliteration of the outlets of the fourth ventricle and triventricular hydrocephalus without aqueductal stenosis. A ventriculoperitoneal shunt was inserted. The authors suggest that the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene may play a previously unrecognized role in central nervous system development; alternatively, this central nervous system abnormality may have been acquired due to constant valsalva from recurrent coughing or wheezing or metabolic and electrolyte imbalances that occur characteristically in cystic fibrosis.

See also Needleman JP et al. Pediatr Pulmonol 2000; 30:490-492. [PubMed]. Also this entry in year 2000 section for illustration of example of the Arnold Chiari malformation.

 

2011 Obeid M, Price J, Sun L, Scantlebury MH, Overby P, Sidhu R, Chiriboga CA, Quittell LM. Facial palsy and idiopathic intracranial hypertension in twins with cystic fibrosis and hypovitaminosis A. Pediatr Neurol 2011; 44:150-152. [PubMed]
10-week-old monozygotic twins, diagnosed with cystic fibrosis by newborn screening, developed facial palsy and increased intracranial pressure. Cranial imaging and cerebrospinal fluid analysis produced normal results. Levels of serum vitamin A were below the normal range. Low levels of vitamin A are associated with facial nerve paralysis, and are at least partly implicated in the development of increased intracranial pressure in infants with cystic fibrosis.

Facial palsy is a well documented as associated with low vitamin A levels in CF infants (Keating JP, Feigin RD. Increased intracranial pressure associated with probable vitamin A deficiency in cystic fibrosis. Pediatrics 1970; 46:41-46.[PubMed]); Silman JS et al. Arch Otolarygol 1985; 111:822-825. [PubMed]) ;Cameron C et al. J Cyst Fibros 2007; 6:241-243 [PubMed]); Basu AP et al. Eur J Paediatr Neurol 2007; 11:240-242. [PubMed]).

 

2011 Horsley A, Helm J, Brennan A, Bright-Thomas R, Webb K, Jones A. Gout and hyperuricaemia in adults with cystic fibrosis. J R Soc Med 2011; 104 Suppl 1:S36-9.[PubMed]
Gout has not been described previously as a complication in cystic fibrosis (CF). Nine CF patients presented with symptoms of acute gout - an estimated prevalence of around 2.5% in the adult CF clinic population, compared to a previously described prevalence in the non-CF population of just over 1%. Serum urate is measured routinely at the annual review in this unit. Mean (SD) serum urate was 0.40 (0.09) mmol/L in male CF patients (n = 108) and 0.31 (0.08) mmol/L in female patients (n = 74). This was significantly greater than in historical controls. Thirty-seven percent of male CF patients and 36% of female patients had serum urate levels above the upper limit of normal.

Although hyperuricemia has been described by a number of authors in people with CF since 1978 (Davidson GP et al, J Pediatr 1978; 93:976-8. [PubMed] ; Sack J et al, 1980 Isr J Med Sci 1980: 417-9. [PubMed]) perhaps surprisingly, these authors did not report having observed any individuals with clinical gout. This is in marked contrast to the nine affected patients in the present report. Much of the previous discussion has concerned the possible renal effects. It was usually considered that the older less refined pancreatic enzyme preparations were more likely to cause problems, however these patients were receiving Creon - perhaps other factors in their treatment or lifestyle (diet, alcohol, medical treatment, etc) were contributory.

 

2011 Kongsgaard UE. Frederic Chopin and his suffering. Tidsskrift for Den Norske Laegeforening 2011; 131:707-710. [PubMed]
2010 was the bicentennial of Chopin's birth. He left more than 230 fantastic compositions, often described as romantic, emotional and poetic. Chopin composed almost exclusively for piano solo and has been called the pianists' composer. From his teens he suffered from respiratory tract infections, gradually accompanied by haemoptysis, pronounced breathing problems, diarrhoea and loss of weight. He experienced part of his adult life as a period of great suffering. He was 39 years old when he died. The assumed cause of death was tuberculosis, but other possible differential diagnoses have been suggested in recent years. In order to examine the different diagnostic alternatives, a non-systematic search of the literature was carried out in PubMed, Embase, Current Contents, Google and relevant reference books. The official cause of death was tuberculosis, but the autopsy report has never been found. Both cystic fibrosis and alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency are possible differential diagnoses that can explain his symptoms. In spite of a disabling disease, Chopin was musically creative right to the end of his life. His suffering must have influenced his musical expression, which is characterized by intimacy and sentimentality. It is unlikely that we will ever find the true cause of death.

There are numerous references to Frederick Chopin and speculation as to his illness - this is the latest. A Medline search for "Chopin" will retrieve most of these which are interesting and worth reading.

 

2011 Dalgic B, Egritas O. Gray hair and acrodermatitis enteropathica-like dermatitis: an unexpected presentation of cystic fibrosis. Eur J Pediatr 2011; 170:1305-8. [PubMed]

Presentation of cystic fibrosis (CF) with an acrodermatitis enteropathica-like skin rash, anemia, and hypoproteinemia without pulmonary disease is rarely reported before. We describe an 11-month-old boy with rash and edema as the presenting signs of cystic fibrosis. The interesting additional finding in this patient was the graying hair after 3 months of age. A reversal of the gray hair was observed following pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy. In conclusion, acrodermatitis-like eruption and hypoproteinemia can be a presenting sign of CF. Graying hair has not been noticed so far as a sign of CF in these patients

Yet another presentation of CF. The acrodermatitis as the presenting disorder of CF has been described previously, related to the multiple dietary deficiencies in untreated patients, but the greying hair is new and interestingly was reversed after pancreatic enzyme therapy was started.