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Eur J Endocrinol. 2013 Nov 29;170(1):R31-41. doi: 10.1530/EJE-13-0532. Print 2014 Jan.

Management of endocrine disease: GH excess: diagnosis and medical therapy.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology, Odense University Hospital, Sønder Boulevard 29, 5000 Odense C, Denmark and Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense C, Denmark.


Acromegaly is predominantly caused by a pituitary adenoma, which secretes an excess of GH resulting in increased IGF1 levels. Most of the GH assays used currently measure only the levels of the 22 kDa form of GH. In theory, the diagnostic sensitivity may be lower compared with the previous assays, which have used polyclonal antibodies. Many GH-secreting adenomas are plurihormonal and may co-secrete prolactin, TSH and α-subunit. Hyperprolactinaemia is found in 30-40% of patients with acromegaly, and hyperprolactinaemia may occasionally be diagnosed before acromegaly is apparent. Although trans-sphenoidal surgery of a GH-secreting adenoma remains the first treatment at most centres, the role of somatostatin analogues, octreotide long-acting repeatable and lanreotide Autogel as primary therapy is still the subject of some debate. Although the normalisation of GH and IGF1 levels is the main objective in all patients with acromegaly, GH and IGF1 levels may be discordant, especially during somatostatin analogue therapy. This discordance usually takes the form of high GH levels and an IGF1 level towards the upper limit of the normal range. Pasireotide, a new somatostatin analogue, may be more efficacious in some patients, but the drug has not yet been registered for acromegaly. Papers published on pasireotide have reported an increased risk of diabetes mellitus due to a reduction in insulin levels. Pegvisomant, the GH receptor antagonist, is indicated - alone or in combination with a somatostatin analogue - in most patients who fail to enter remission on a somatostatin analogue. Dopamine-D2-agonists may be effective as monotherapy in a few patients, but it may prove necessary to apply combination therapy involving a somatostatin analogue and/or pegvisomant.

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