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Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2012 Dec;73(6):497-502. doi: 10.1016/j.ando.2012.09.004. Epub 2012 Nov 2.

Acromegaly induced by ectopic secretion of GHRH: a review 30 years after GHRH discovery.

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Laboratoire d'hormonologie, fédération d'endocrinologie, hospices civils de Lyon, groupement hospitalier Lyon-Est, 59, boulevard Pinel, 69677 Bron cedex, France.


Ectopic acromegaly is very rare and since the discovery of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), 30 years ago, only 74 cases have been reported in the literature. Except for a recent French series of 21 cases, most of them were case reports. The present review summarizes the current knowledge on clinical presentation, diagnosis and prognosis. Tumors secreting GHRH are neuroendocrine tumors, usually well differentiated and mainly from pancreatic or bronchial origin. They are usually large and easy to localize using TDM and somatostatin receptor scintigraphy. Clinical presentation is an acromegaly of variable intensity, whose features are similar to that of a somatotropic adenoma. Pituitary may be normal or enlarged at MRI which may be difficult to interpret especially in MEN1 patients where the association of a microprolactinoma to a pancreatic tumor secreting GHRH may be misleading. GHRH plasmatic measurement has an excellent specificity for the diagnosis, using a threshold of 250 to 300ng/L and is a good tool for follow-up of patients after treatment. These tumors have a good overall prognosis, even in metastatic forms which represent 50% of cases. Surgical approach is recommended and, when a complete tumoral resection is feasible, results, in most patients, in long-lasting remission. In such cases, GHRH concentration is normalized and its increase is an accurate indicator of recurrence. In uncured patients, somatostatin analogs control GH secretion but inhibit, only partially, GHRH secretion. MEN1 mutation should be systematically investigated in patients with a pancreatic tumor.

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