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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Apr;98(4):E779-84. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-3982. Epub 2013 Mar 8.

Pituitary stalk interruption syndrome and isolated pituitary hypoplasia may be caused by mutations in holoprosencephaly-related genes.

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Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Diabetes, First Department of Pediatrics, Athens University Medical School, 11527 Athens, Greece.



Holoprosencephaly (HPE) is a developmental defect characterized by wide phenotypic variability, ranging from minor midline malformations (eg, single central incisor) to severe deformities. In 10-15% of HPE patients, mutations in specific genes have been identified (eg, SHH, TGIF, SIX3). Pituitary stalk interruption syndrome (PSIS) constitutes a distinct abnormality of unknown pathogenesis, whereas isolated pituitary hypoplasia (IPH) has been linked to various developmental genes.


Three of our patients with PSIS had a single central incisor, a malformation encountered in some HPE cases. Based on this observation, we initiated a search for mutations in HPE-associated genes in 30 patients with PSIS or IPH.


The entire coding region of the TGIF, SHH, and SIX3 genes was sequenced in patients with combined pituitary hormone deficiency associated with either PSIS or IPH and in healthy controls.


Two novel mutations in the HPE-related genes were detected (ie, c.799 C>T, p.Q267X in the TGIF gene, and c.1279G>A, p.G427R in the SHH gene) in 2 of our patients. The overall incidence of HPE-related gene mutations in our nonsyndromic and nonchromosomal patients was 6.6%. No molecular defect in the SIX3 gene was detected in our cohort.


The data suggest that HPE-related gene mutations are implicated in the etiology of isolated pituitary defects (PSIS or IPH). Alternatively, PSIS or IPH may constitute mild forms of an expanded HPE spectrum.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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