Background: Wolfram syndrome is a genetic condition, which is typically inherited in autosomal recessive fashion, characterized by the combination of diabetes mellitus and optic atrophy. It is along a spectrum which encompasses DIDMOAD (Diabetes insipidus, diabetes mellitus, optic atrophy, and deafness). Profound hypoglycemic unawareness can be seen in this condition but is not commonly described as an associated feature in the literature.
Case report: A 16 year old female with history of presumed type 1 diabetes presented to urology clinic with urinary incontinence. She was found to have profound dilation of the bladder and was admitted for bladder decompression. During the course of admission she was found to also have diabetes insipidus and optic atrophy. She had several severe hypoglycemic episodes with profound hypoglycemia unawareness during this admission. Genetic testing for Wolfram syndrome was positive. As an outpatient she was placed on a continuous glucose monitor to help manage her hypoglycemia. Addtionally, psychiatric support to manage her associated depression was an important aspect of her therapy. As her depression improved so did her ability to comply with the necessary therapies.
Conclusions: Wolfram syndrome is a rare syndrome that has been well described. However, patients with this syndrome have frequent hypoglycemia unawareness and severe hypoglycemia likely related to the neurologic deterioration that occurs at the molecular level in the pathogenesis of Wolfram syndrome. Strategies must be put in to place to help prevent and quickly treat these hypoglycemic events.
Key words: Wolfram syndrome, diabetes mellitus, neurogenic bladder, hypoglycemia, optic atrophy, diabetes insipidus, DIDMOAD, endoplasmic reticulum stress, WFS1