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Pituitary. 2006;9(4):335-42.

Hypopituitarism.

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1
Istituto Auxologico Italiano, University of Milan, Ospedale San Luca, Milan, Italy.

Abstract

Hypopituitarism is the partial or complete insufficiency of anterior pituitary hormone secretion and may result from pituitary or hypothalamic disease. The reported incidence (12-42 new cases per million per year) and prevalence (300-455 per million) is probably underestimated if its occurrence after brain injuries (30-70% of cases) is considered. Clinical manifestations depend on the extent of hormone deficiency and may be non specific, such as fatigue, hypotension, cold intolerance, or more indicative such as growth retardation or impotence and infertility in GH and gonadotropin deficiency, respectively.A number of inflammatory, granulomatous or neoplastic diseases as well as traumatic or radiation injuries involving the hypothalamic-pituitary region can lead to hypopituitarism. Several genetic defects are possible causes of syndromic and non syndromic isolated/multiple pituitary hormone deficiencies. Unexplained gonadal dysfunctions, developmental craniofacial abnormalities, newly discovered empty sella and previous pregnancy-associated hemorrhage or blood pressure changes may be associated with defective anterior pituitary function.The diagnosis of hypopituitarism relies on the measurement of basal and stimulated secretion of anterior pituitary hormones and of the hormones secreted by pituitary target glands. MR imaging of the hypothalamo-pituitary region may provide essential information. Genetic testing, when indicated, may be diagnostic.Secondary hypothyroidism is a rare disease. The biochemical diagnosis is suggested by low serum FT4 levels and inappropriately normal or low basal TSH levels that do not rise normally after TRH. L-thyroxine is the treatment of choice. Before starting replacement therapy, concomitant corticotropin deficiency should be excluded in order to avoid acute adrenal insufficiency. Prolactin deficiency is also very rare and generally occurs after global failure of pituitary function. Prolactin deficiency prevents lactation. Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in males is characterized by low testosterone with low or normal LH and FSH serum concentrations and impaired spermatogenesis. Hyperprolactinemia as well as low sex hormone binding globulin concentrations enter the differential diagnosis. Irregular menses and amenorrhea with low serum estradiol concentration (<100 pmol/l) and normal or low gonadotropin concentrations are the typical features of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in females. In post menopausal women, failure to detect high serum gonadotropin values is highly suggestive of the diagnosis. In males, replacement therapy with oral or injectable testosterone results in wide fluctuations of serum hormone levels. More recently developed transdermal testosterone preparations allow stable physiological serum testosterone levels. Pulsatile GnRH administration can be used to stimulate spermatogenesis in men and ovulation in women with GnRH deficiency and normal gonadotropin secretion. Gonadotropin administration is indicated in cases of gonadotropin deficiency or GnRH resistance but is also an option, in alternative to pulsatile GnRH, for patients with defective GnRH secretion.

PMID:
17077946
DOI:
10.1007/s11102-006-0416-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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