Hypopituitarism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: May 4, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Hypopituitarism is the decreased (hypo) secretion of one or more of the eight hormones normally produced by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain.[1][2] If there is decreased secretion of most pituitary hormones, the term panhypopituitarism (pan meaning "all") is used.[3]

The signs and symptoms of hypopituitarism vary, depending on which hormones are undersecreted and on the underlying cause of the abnormality. The diagnosis of hypopituitarism is made by blood tests, but often specific scans and other investigations are needed to find the underlying cause, such as tumors of the pituitary, and the ideal treatment. Most hormones controlled by the secretions of the pituitary can be replaced by tablets or injections. Hypopituitarism is a rare disease, but may be significantly underdiagnosed in people with previous traumatic brain injury.[1] The first description of the condition was made in 1914 by the German physician Dr Morris Simmonds.[4]

The hormones of the pituitary have different actions in the body, and the symptoms of hypopituitarism therefore depend on which hormone is deficient. The symptoms may be subtle and are often initially attributed to other causes.[1][5] In most of the cases, three or more hormones are deficient.[6] The most common problem is insufficiency of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and/or luteinizing hormone (LH) leading to sex hormone abnormalities. Growth hormone deficiency is more common in people with an underlying tumor than those with other causes.[1][6]

Sometimes, there are additional symptoms that arise from the underlying cause; for instance, if the hypopituitarism is due to a growth hormone-producing tumor, there may be symptoms of acromegaly (enlargement of the hands and feet, coarse facial features), and if the tumor extends to the optic nerve or optic chiasm, there may be visual field defects. Headaches may also accompany pituitary tumors,[1] as well as pituitary apoplexy (infarction or hemorrhage of a pituitary tumor) and lymphocytic hypophysitis (autoimmune inflammation of the pituitary).[7] Apoplexy, in addition to sudden headaches and rapidly worsening visual loss, may also be associated with double vision that results from compression of the nerves in the adjacent cavernous sinus that control the eye muscles.[8]

Pituitary failure results in many changes in the skin, hair and nails as a result of the absence of pituitary hormone action on these sites.[9]

Deficiency of all anterior pituitary hormones is more common than individual hormone deficiency.

Deficiency of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), together referred to as the gonadotropins, leads to different symptoms in men and women. Women experience oligo- or amenorrhea (infrequent/light or absent menstrual periods respectively) and infertility. Men lose facial, scrotal and trunk hair, as well as suffering decreased muscle mass and anemia. Both sexes may experience a decrease in libido and loss of sexual function, and have an increased risk of osteoporosis (bone fragility). Lack of LH/FSH in children is associated with delayed puberty.[1][5]

Growth hormone (GH) deficiency leads to a decrease in muscle mass, central obesity (increase in body fat around the waist) and impaired attention and memory. Children experience growth retardation and short stature.[1][5]

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) deficiency leads to adrenal insufficiency, a lack of production of glucocorticoids such as cortisol by the adrenal gland. If the problem is chronic, symptoms consist of fatigue, weight loss, failure to thrive (in children), delayed puberty (in adolescents), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels), anemia and hyponatremia (low sodium levels). If the onset is abrupt, collapse, shock and vomiting may occur.[1][5] ACTH deficiency is highly similar to primary Addison's disease, which is cortisol deficiency as the result of direct damage to the adrenal glands; the latter form, however, often leads to hyperpigmentation of the skin, which does not occur in ACTH deficiency.[10]

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) deficiency leads to hypothyroidism (lack of production of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) in the thyroid). Typical symptoms are tiredness, intolerance to cold, constipation, weight gain, hair loss and slowed thinking, as well as a slowed heart rate and low blood pressure. In children, hypothyroidism leads to delayed growth and in extreme inborn forms to a syndrome called cretinism.[1][5]

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Hypopituitarism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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