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Pituitary Adenomas

Pituitary adenomas are tumors that develop within the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. They are classified by size (either micro- or macroadenomas) and by their ability to secrete hormones. Non-functioning or non-secretory adenomas do not secrete hormones but can compress surrounding pituitary tissue, leading to hypopituitarism. Secretory adenomas secrete various hormones depending on the cell type from which they evolved, leading to hyperpituitarism.

Last updated: Jan 8, 2021

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Epidemiology and Etiology

Epidemiology

  • Account for approximately 15% of all primary intracranial tumors
  • Most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60
  • > 60% are benign Benign Fibroadenoma, approximately 30% are invasive, and < 1% are carcinomas
  • Cause 60% of all cases of hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism is a condition characterized by pituitary hormone deficiency. This condition primarily results from a disease of the pituitary gland, but it may arise from hypothalamic dysfunction. Pituitary tumors are one of the most common causes. The majority of cases affect the anterior pituitary lobe (adenohypophysis), which accounts for 80% of the gland. Hypopituitarism

Etiology

  • > 95% of cases are sporadic Sporadic Selective IgA Deficiency
  • < 5% are linked to genetics Genetics Genetics is the study of genes and their functions and behaviors. Basic Terms of Genetics
    • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 A form of multiple endocrine neoplasia that is characterized by the combined occurrence of tumors in the parathyroid glands, the pituitary gland, and the pancreatic islets. The resulting clinical signs include hyperparathyroidism; hypercalcemia; hyperprolactinemia; Cushing disease; gastrinoma; and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. This disease is due to loss-of-function of the MEN1 gene, a tumor suppressor gene (genes, tumor suppressor) on chromosome 11 (locus: 11q13). Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia: rare inherited endocrine syndrome characterized by tumors of the pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types, parathyroid Parathyroid The parathyroid glands are 2 pairs of small endocrine glands found in close proximity to the thyroid gland. The superior parathyroid glands are lodged within the parenchyma of the upper poles of the right and left thyroid lobes; the inferior parathyroid glands are close to the inferior tips or poles of the lobes. Parathyroid Glands: Anatomy glands, and pancreas Pancreas The pancreas lies mostly posterior to the stomach and extends across the posterior abdominal wall from the duodenum on the right to the spleen on the left. This organ has both exocrine and endocrine tissue. Pancreas: Anatomy
    • Carney complex Carney complex Autosomal dominant syndrome characterized by cardiac and cutaneous myxomas; lentiginosis (spotty pigmentation of the skin), and endocrinopathy and its associated endocrine tumors. The cardiac myxomas may lead to sudden cardiac death and other complications in carney complex patients. The gene coding for the prkar1a protein is one of the causative genetic loci (type 1). A second locus is at chromosome 2p16 (type 2). Cardiac Myxoma: an autosomal dominant Autosomal dominant Autosomal inheritance, both dominant and recessive, refers to the transmission of genes from the 22 autosomal chromosomes. Autosomal dominant diseases are expressed when only 1 copy of the dominant allele is inherited. Autosomal Recessive and Autosomal Dominant Inheritance condition resulting in myomas of the heart and skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions; may present with growth hormone-secreting pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types tumors 
    • Gs-alpha protein: mutations of this protein that specifically affect Affect The feeling-tone accompaniment of an idea or mental representation. It is the most direct psychic derivative of instinct and the psychic representative of the various bodily changes by means of which instincts manifest themselves. Psychiatric Assessment the alpha subunit have been linked to growth hormone-secreting pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types tumors 
    • Pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types tumor-transforming gene Gene A category of nucleic acid sequences that function as units of heredity and which code for the basic instructions for the development, reproduction, and maintenance of organisms. Basic Terms of Genetics (PTTG): an oncogene; high levels of PTTG expression have been detected in pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types tumor Tumor Inflammation samples
    • Fibroblast growth factor Fibroblast growth factor A family of small polypeptide growth factors that share several common features including a strong affinity for heparin, and a central barrel-shaped core region of 140 amino acids that is highly homologous between family members. Although originally studied as proteins that stimulate the growth of fibroblasts this distinction is no longer a requirement for membership in the fibroblast growth factor family. X-linked Hypophosphatemic Rickets receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors 4: a protein that has been implicated in the neoplastic process, with a higher level of expression linked to macroadenomas and invasive tumors

Pathophysiology

General pathology

  • Pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types adenomas develop within the anterior lobe Anterior lobe Cerebellum: Anatomy of the pituitary gland Pituitary gland The pituitary gland, also known as the hypophysis, is considered the “master endocrine gland” because it releases hormones that regulate the activity of multiple major endocrine organs in the body. The gland sits on the sella turcica, just below the hypothalamus, which is the primary regulator of the pituitary gland. Pituitary Gland: Anatomy.
  • The pituitary gland Pituitary gland The pituitary gland, also known as the hypophysis, is considered the “master endocrine gland” because it releases hormones that regulate the activity of multiple major endocrine organs in the body. The gland sits on the sella turcica, just below the hypothalamus, which is the primary regulator of the pituitary gland. Pituitary Gland: Anatomy sits within the sella turcica Sella turcica A bony prominence situated on the upper surface of the body of the sphenoid bone. It houses the pituitary gland. Pituitary Gland: Anatomy, a bony “cradle” that doesn’t expand easily. Thus, the growth of an adenoma will compress surrounding glandular tissue. 
  • Most adenomas will arise from a single pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types cell type (see table below).

Classification by size

  • < 10 mm MM Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignant condition of plasma cells (activated B lymphocytes) primarily seen in the elderly. Monoclonal proliferation of plasma cells results in cytokine-driven osteoclastic activity and excessive secretion of IgG antibodies. Multiple Myeloma = microadenomas
  • > 10 mm MM Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignant condition of plasma cells (activated B lymphocytes) primarily seen in the elderly. Monoclonal proliferation of plasma cells results in cytokine-driven osteoclastic activity and excessive secretion of IgG antibodies. Multiple Myeloma = macroadenomas

Classification by hormone production

  • Non-secretory adenomas = approximately 40% of all pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types adenomas  
    • > 80% of non-secretory cases derive from the gonadotroph cells of the pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types.
    • Produce a mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast effect + compression Compression Blunt Chest Trauma and destruction of surrounding pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types tissue + impaired blood flow Blood flow Blood flow refers to the movement of a certain volume of blood through the vasculature over a given unit of time (e.g., mL per minute). Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure (interference with the hypothalamus-hypophyseal portal system) → hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism is a condition characterized by pituitary hormone deficiency. This condition primarily results from a disease of the pituitary gland, but it may arise from hypothalamic dysfunction. Pituitary tumors are one of the most common causes. The majority of cases affect the anterior pituitary lobe (adenohypophysis), which accounts for 80% of the gland. Hypopituitarism.
  • Secretory adenomas = approximately 60% of all pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types adenomas
    • Lactotroph adenomas (40%) → increased prolactin Prolactin A lactogenic hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis. It is a polypeptide of approximately 23 kd. Besides its major action on lactation, in some species prolactin exerts effects on reproduction, maternal behavior, fat metabolism, immunomodulation and osmoregulation. Breasts: Anatomy hyperprolactinemia Hyperprolactinemia Hyperprolactinemia is defined as a condition of elevated levels of prolactin (PRL) hormone in the blood. The PRL hormone is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and is responsible for breast development and lactation. The most common cause is PRL-secreting pituitary adenomas (prolactinomas). Hyperprolactinemia
    • Somatotroph adenomas → increased growth hormone → acromegaly Acromegaly A condition caused by prolonged exposure to excessive human growth hormone in adults. It is characterized by bony enlargement of the face; lower jaw (prognathism); hands; feet; head; and thorax. The most common etiology is a growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma. Acromegaly and Gigantism or gigantism Gigantism The condition of accelerated and excessive growth in children or adolescents who are exposed to excess human growth hormone before the closure of epiphyses. It is usually caused by somatotroph hyperplasia or a growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma. These patients are of abnormally tall stature, more than 3 standard deviations above normal mean height for age. Acromegaly and Gigantism
    • Corticotroph adenomas → increased adrenocorticotropic hormone Adrenocorticotropic hormone An anterior pituitary hormone that stimulates the adrenal cortex and its production of corticosteroids. Acth is a 39-amino acid polypeptide of which the n-terminal 24-amino acid segment is identical in all species and contains the adrenocorticotropic activity. Upon further tissue-specific processing, acth can yield alpha-msh and corticotropin-like intermediate lobe peptide (clip). Adrenal Hormones (ACTH) → Cushing’s syndrome
    • Thyrotroph adenomas (rare) → increased thyroid-stimulating hormone Thyroid-stimulating hormone A glycoprotein hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis. Thyrotropin stimulates thyroid gland by increasing the iodide transport, synthesis and release of thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). Thyroid Hormones (TSH) → secondary hyperthyroidism Hyperthyroidism Hypersecretion of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland. Elevated levels of thyroid hormones increase basal metabolic rate. Thyrotoxicosis and Hyperthyroidism
      • Unlike primary hyperthyroidism Hyperthyroidism Hypersecretion of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland. Elevated levels of thyroid hormones increase basal metabolic rate. Thyrotoxicosis and Hyperthyroidism, the rise in TSH levels is not a compensatory mechanism.
    • Adenomas derived from multiple types of pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types cells secrete more than 1 hormone. 
      • Most common combination is somatotroph plus lactotroph.
      • Often atypical and/or malignant forms of adenomas, which transform into aggressive and treatment-resistant carcinomas
Hormones Hormones Hormones are messenger molecules that are synthesized in one part of the body and move through the bloodstream to exert specific regulatory effects on another part of the body. Hormones play critical roles in coordinating cellular activities throughout the body in response to the constant changes in both the internal and external environments. Hormones: Overview and Types of anterior pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types
Hormone Cell type Target organ Function Increased Decreased
ACTH Corticotroph Adrenal cortex Adrenal Cortex The outer layer of the adrenal gland. It is derived from mesoderm and comprised of three zones (outer zona glomerulosa, middle zona fasciculata, and inner zona reticularis) with each producing various steroids preferentially, such as aldosterone; hydrocortisone; dehydroepiandrosterone; and androstenedione. Adrenal cortex function is regulated by pituitary adrenocorticotropin. Adrenal Glands: Anatomy Stimulate adrenocortical hormones Hormones Hormones are messenger molecules that are synthesized in one part of the body and move through the bloodstream to exert specific regulatory effects on another part of the body. Hormones play critical roles in coordinating cellular activities throughout the body in response to the constant changes in both the internal and external environments. Hormones: Overview and Types
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Nelson’s syndrome
Addison’s disease
Growth hormone Somatotroph Liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver: Anatomy and adipose tissue Adipose tissue Adipose tissue is a specialized type of connective tissue that has both structural and highly complex metabolic functions, including energy storage, glucose homeostasis, and a multitude of endocrine capabilities. There are three types of adipose tissue, white adipose tissue, brown adipose tissue, and beige or “brite” adipose tissue, which is a transitional form. Adipose Tissue: Histology Stimulates protein synthesis Synthesis Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and overall growth
  • Acromegaly Acromegaly A condition caused by prolonged exposure to excessive human growth hormone in adults. It is characterized by bony enlargement of the face; lower jaw (prognathism); hands; feet; head; and thorax. The most common etiology is a growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma. Acromegaly and Gigantism
  • Gigantism Gigantism The condition of accelerated and excessive growth in children or adolescents who are exposed to excess human growth hormone before the closure of epiphyses. It is usually caused by somatotroph hyperplasia or a growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma. These patients are of abnormally tall stature, more than 3 standard deviations above normal mean height for age. Acromegaly and Gigantism
Dwarfism
Prolactin Prolactin A lactogenic hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis. It is a polypeptide of approximately 23 kd. Besides its major action on lactation, in some species prolactin exerts effects on reproduction, maternal behavior, fat metabolism, immunomodulation and osmoregulation. Breasts: Anatomy Lactotroph Mammary glands Secretion Secretion Coagulation Studies of milk, female breast development Hyperprolactinemia Hyperprolactinemia Hyperprolactinemia is defined as a condition of elevated levels of prolactin (PRL) hormone in the blood. The PRL hormone is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and is responsible for breast development and lactation. The most common cause is PRL-secreting pituitary adenomas (prolactinomas). Hyperprolactinemia
Thyroid- stimulating hormone Thyrotroph Thyroid gland Thyroid gland The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the human body. The thyroid gland is a highly vascular, brownish-red gland located in the visceral compartment of the anterior region of the neck. Thyroid Gland: Anatomy Stimulates synthesis Synthesis Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and secretion Secretion Coagulation Studies of thyroid Thyroid The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the human body. The thyroid gland is a highly vascular, brownish-red gland located in the visceral compartment of the anterior region of the neck. Thyroid Gland: Anatomy hormones Hormones Hormones are messenger molecules that are synthesized in one part of the body and move through the bloodstream to exert specific regulatory effects on another part of the body. Hormones play critical roles in coordinating cellular activities throughout the body in response to the constant changes in both the internal and external environments. Hormones: Overview and Types Hyperthyroidism Hyperthyroidism Hypersecretion of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland. Elevated levels of thyroid hormones increase basal metabolic rate. Thyrotoxicosis and Hyperthyroidism Hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by a deficiency of thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause worldwide, but Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune thyroiditis) is the leading cause in non-iodine-deficient regions. Hypothyroidism
Luteinizing hormone Gonadotroph Ovaries Ovaries Ovaries are the paired gonads of the female reproductive system that contain haploid gametes known as oocytes. The ovaries are located intraperitoneally in the pelvis, just posterior to the broad ligament, and are connected to the pelvic sidewall and to the uterus by ligaments. These organs function to secrete hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and to produce the female germ cells (oocytes). Ovaries: Anatomy and testes Testes Gonadal Hormones Stimulates testosterone Testosterone A potent androgenic steroid and major product secreted by the leydig cells of the testis. Its production is stimulated by luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland. In turn, testosterone exerts feedback control of the pituitary LH and FSH secretion. Depending on the tissues, testosterone can be further converted to dihydrotestosterone or estradiol. Androgens and Antiandrogens, ovulation Ovulation The discharge of an ovum from a rupturing follicle in the ovary. Menstrual Cycle, corpus luteum Corpus Luteum The yellow body derived from the ruptured ovarian follicle after ovulation. The process of corpus luteum formation, luteinization, is regulated by luteinizing hormone. Ovaries: Anatomy, estrogen Estrogen Compounds that interact with estrogen receptors in target tissues to bring about the effects similar to those of estradiol. Estrogens stimulate the female reproductive organs, and the development of secondary female sex characteristics. Estrogenic chemicals include natural, synthetic, steroidal, or non-steroidal compounds. Ovaries: Anatomy and progesterone Progesterone The major progestational steroid that is secreted primarily by the corpus luteum and the placenta. Progesterone acts on the uterus, the mammary glands and the brain. It is required in embryo implantation; pregnancy maintenance, and the development of mammary tissue for milk production. Progesterone, converted from pregnenolone, also serves as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of gonadal steroid hormones and adrenal corticosteroids. Gonadal Hormones
  • Precocious puberty Puberty Puberty is a complex series of physical, psychosocial, and cognitive transitions usually experienced by adolescents (11-19 years of age). Puberty is marked by a growth in stature and the development of secondary sexual characteristics, achievement of fertility, and changes in most body systems. Puberty
  • Testicular failure
  • Hypogonadism Hypogonadism Hypogonadism is a condition characterized by reduced or no sex hormone production by the testes or ovaries. Hypogonadism can result from primary (hypergonadotropic) or secondary (hypogonadotropic) failure. Symptoms include infertility, increased risk of osteoporosis, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, and regression (or absence) of secondary sexual characteristics. Hypogonadism Kallmann syndrome Kallmann syndrome Kallmann syndrome (KS), also called olfacto-genital syndrome, is a genetic condition that causes hypogonadotropic hypogonadism due to decreased secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) by the hypothalamus. The lack of sex hormones results in impaired pubertal development. Kallmann Syndrome
  • Pasqualini syndrome
Follicle- stimulating hormone Gonadotroph Ovaries Ovaries Ovaries are the paired gonads of the female reproductive system that contain haploid gametes known as oocytes. The ovaries are located intraperitoneally in the pelvis, just posterior to the broad ligament, and are connected to the pelvic sidewall and to the uterus by ligaments. These organs function to secrete hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and to produce the female germ cells (oocytes). Ovaries: Anatomy and testes Testes Gonadal Hormones Sperm maturation, growth of follicles in ovaries Ovaries Ovaries are the paired gonads of the female reproductive system that contain haploid gametes known as oocytes. The ovaries are located intraperitoneally in the pelvis, just posterior to the broad ligament, and are connected to the pelvic sidewall and to the uterus by ligaments. These organs function to secrete hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and to produce the female germ cells (oocytes). Ovaries: Anatomy Gonadal dysgenesis Gonadal dysgenesis A number of syndromes with defective gonadal developments such as streak gonads and dysgenetic testes or ovaries. The spectrum of gonadal and sexual abnormalities is reflected in their varied sex chromosome (sex chromosomes) constitution as shown by the karyotypes of 45, X monosomy (Turner syndrome); 46, XX (gonadal dysgenesis, 46xx); 46, XY (gonadal dysgenesis, 46, xy); and sex chromosome mosaicism. Their phenotypes range from female, through ambiguous, to male. This concept includes gonadal agenesis. Wilms Tumor Hypogonadism Hypogonadism Hypogonadism is a condition characterized by reduced or no sex hormone production by the testes or ovaries. Hypogonadism can result from primary (hypergonadotropic) or secondary (hypogonadotropic) failure. Symptoms include infertility, increased risk of osteoporosis, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, and regression (or absence) of secondary sexual characteristics. Hypogonadism
γ-melanocyte-stimulating hormones Hormones Hormones are messenger molecules that are synthesized in one part of the body and move through the bloodstream to exert specific regulatory effects on another part of the body. Hormones play critical roles in coordinating cellular activities throughout the body in response to the constant changes in both the internal and external environments. Hormones: Overview and Types Corticotroph Melanocytes Melanocytes Mammalian pigment cells that produce melanins, pigments found mainly in the epidermis, but also in the eyes and the hair, by a process called melanogenesis. Coloration can be altered by the number of melanocytes or the amount of pigment produced and stored in the organelles called melanosomes. The large non-mammalian melanin-containing cells are called melanophores. Skin: Structure and Functions, endothelial cells, monocytes Monocytes Large, phagocytic mononuclear leukocytes produced in the vertebrate bone marrow and released into the blood; contain a large, oval or somewhat indented nucleus surrounded by voluminous cytoplasm and numerous organelles. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation, and keratinocytes Keratinocytes Epidermal cells which synthesize keratin and undergo characteristic changes as they move upward from the basal layers of the epidermis to the cornified (horny) layer of the skin. Successive stages of differentiation of the keratinocytes forming the epidermal layers are basal cell, spinous or prickle cell, and the granular cell. Skin: Structure and Functions Increase melanin Melanin Insoluble polymers of tyrosine derivatives found in and causing darkness in skin (skin pigmentation), hair, and feathers providing protection against sunburn induced by sunlight. Carotenes contribute yellow and red coloration. Seborrheic Keratosis synthesis Synthesis Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) in melanocytes Melanocytes Mammalian pigment cells that produce melanins, pigments found mainly in the epidermis, but also in the eyes and the hair, by a process called melanogenesis. Coloration can be altered by the number of melanocytes or the amount of pigment produced and stored in the organelles called melanosomes. The large non-mammalian melanin-containing cells are called melanophores. Skin: Structure and Functions Melasma Melasma Melasma is a benign skin condition characterized by hyperpigmentation of sun-exposed regions due to excess melanin production and deposition. The condition mainly affects women during their reproductive years, particularly those with darker skin tones. Melasma, solar lentigo, and post- inflammatory hyper- pigmentation

Clinical Presentation

Microadenomas (< 10 mm MM Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignant condition of plasma cells (activated B lymphocytes) primarily seen in the elderly. Monoclonal proliferation of plasma cells results in cytokine-driven osteoclastic activity and excessive secretion of IgG antibodies. Multiple Myeloma)

  • Non-secretory: usually asymptomatic
  • Secretory: cause hyperpituitarism Hyperpituitarism Disease of the glandular, anterior portion of the pituitary resulting in hypersecretion of adenohypophyseal hormones such as growth hormone; prolactin; thyrotropin; luteinizing hormone; follicle stimulating hormone; and adrenocorticotropic hormone. Hyperpituitarism usually is caused by a functional adenoma. Hyperprolactinemia; symptoms depend on the effects that the excessive hormone exerts on the peripheral target organs
    • Hyperprolactinemia Hyperprolactinemia Hyperprolactinemia is defined as a condition of elevated levels of prolactin (PRL) hormone in the blood. The PRL hormone is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and is responsible for breast development and lactation. The most common cause is PRL-secreting pituitary adenomas (prolactinomas). Hyperprolactinemia
    • Acromegaly Acromegaly A condition caused by prolonged exposure to excessive human growth hormone in adults. It is characterized by bony enlargement of the face; lower jaw (prognathism); hands; feet; head; and thorax. The most common etiology is a growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma. Acromegaly and Gigantism or gigantism Gigantism The condition of accelerated and excessive growth in children or adolescents who are exposed to excess human growth hormone before the closure of epiphyses. It is usually caused by somatotroph hyperplasia or a growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenoma. These patients are of abnormally tall stature, more than 3 standard deviations above normal mean height for age. Acromegaly and Gigantism
    • Cushing’s syndrome
    • Secondary hyperthyroidism Hyperthyroidism Hypersecretion of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland. Elevated levels of thyroid hormones increase basal metabolic rate. Thyrotoxicosis and Hyperthyroidism

Macroadenomas (> 10 mm MM Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignant condition of plasma cells (activated B lymphocytes) primarily seen in the elderly. Monoclonal proliferation of plasma cells results in cytokine-driven osteoclastic activity and excessive secretion of IgG antibodies. Multiple Myeloma)

  • Non-secretory:
    • Mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast effect symptoms:
      • Bitemporal hemianopsia (diminished vision Vision Ophthalmic Exam in bilateral temporal fields) or diplopia Diplopia A visual symptom in which a single object is perceived by the visual cortex as two objects rather than one. Disorders associated with this condition include refractive errors; strabismus; oculomotor nerve diseases; trochlear nerve diseases; abducens nerve diseases; and diseases of the brain stem and occipital lobe. Myasthenia Gravis from compression Compression Blunt Chest Trauma of the optic chiasm Optic Chiasm The x-shaped structure formed by the meeting of the two optic nerves. At the optic chiasm the fibers from the medial part of each retina cross to project to the other side of the brain while the lateral retinal fibers continue on the same side. As a result each half of the brain receives information about the contralateral visual field from both eyes. The Visual Pathway and Related Disorders or nerve 
      • Ophthalmoplegia Ophthalmoplegia Paralysis of one or more of the ocular muscles due to disorders of the eye muscles, neuromuscular junction, supporting soft tissue, tendons, or innervation to the muscles. Orbital and Preseptal Cellulitis from the invasion of the cavernous sinus 
      • Headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess from the stretching of dural matter.
      • Pituitary apoplexy Pituitary apoplexy The sudden loss of blood supply to the pituitary gland, leading to tissue necrosis and loss of function (panhypopituitarism). The most common cause is hemorrhage or infarction of a pituitary adenoma. It can also result from acute hemorrhage into sella turcica due to head trauma; intracranial hypertension; or other acute effects of central nervous system hemorrhage. Clinical signs include severe headache; hypotension; bilateral visual disturbances; unconsciousness; and coma. Hypopituitarism induced by sudden hemorrhage into an adenoma will cause an excruciating headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess and diplopia Diplopia A visual symptom in which a single object is perceived by the visual cortex as two objects rather than one. Disorders associated with this condition include refractive errors; strabismus; oculomotor nerve diseases; trochlear nerve diseases; abducens nerve diseases; and diseases of the brain stem and occipital lobe. Myasthenia Gravis.
    • Signs of increased intracranial pressure Increased Intracranial Pressure Normal intracranial pressure (ICP) is defined as < 15 mm Hg, whereas pathologically increased ICP is any pressure ≥ 20 mm Hg. Increased ICP may result from several etiologies, including trauma, intracranial hemorrhage, mass lesions, cerebral edema, increased CSF production, and decreased CSF absorption. Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP) ( headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess, vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia without nausea Nausea An unpleasant sensation in the stomach usually accompanied by the urge to vomit. Common causes are early pregnancy, sea and motion sickness, emotional stress, intense pain, food poisoning, and various enteroviruses. Antiemetics, ocular palsy Palsy paralysis of an area of the body, thus incapable of voluntary movement Cranial Nerve Palsies, altered level of consciousness Altered Level of Consciousness Intracerebral Hemorrhage, double vision Vision Ophthalmic Exam)
    • Hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism is a condition characterized by pituitary hormone deficiency. This condition primarily results from a disease of the pituitary gland, but it may arise from hypothalamic dysfunction. Pituitary tumors are one of the most common causes. The majority of cases affect the anterior pituitary lobe (adenohypophysis), which accounts for 80% of the gland. Hypopituitarism: The adenoma produces compression Compression Blunt Chest Trauma of the pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types, leading to ischemia Ischemia A hypoperfusion of the blood through an organ or tissue caused by a pathologic constriction or obstruction of its blood vessels, or an absence of blood circulation. Ischemic Cell Damage of the tissue and eventual necrosis Necrosis The death of cells in an organ or tissue due to disease, injury or failure of the blood supply. Ischemic Cell Damage. Destruction of > 75% of pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types tissue results in the sequential Sequential Computed Tomography (CT) loss of anterior pituitary hormones Pituitary hormones The hypothalamic and pituitary hormones are the most important regulators of the endocrine system. The hypothalamus functions as the coordinating center between the CNS and endocrine system by integrating the signals received from the rest of the brain and releasing appropriate regulatory hormones to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland then releases its own hormones in response to hypothalamic stimulation. Hypothalamic and Pituitary Hormones; symptoms depend on the deficient hormone(s). The most common pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types hormone deficiencies are of gonadotropins, resulting in hypogonadism Hypogonadism Hypogonadism is a condition characterized by reduced or no sex hormone production by the testes or ovaries. Hypogonadism can result from primary (hypergonadotropic) or secondary (hypogonadotropic) failure. Symptoms include infertility, increased risk of osteoporosis, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, and regression (or absence) of secondary sexual characteristics. Hypogonadism in both men and women.
  • Secretory:
    • Hyperpituitarism Hyperpituitarism Disease of the glandular, anterior portion of the pituitary resulting in hypersecretion of adenohypophyseal hormones such as growth hormone; prolactin; thyrotropin; luteinizing hormone; follicle stimulating hormone; and adrenocorticotropic hormone. Hyperpituitarism usually is caused by a functional adenoma. Hyperprolactinemia; symptoms depend on the hormone-specific effects (same as above)
    • Other hormones Hormones Hormones are messenger molecules that are synthesized in one part of the body and move through the bloodstream to exert specific regulatory effects on another part of the body. Hormones play critical roles in coordinating cellular activities throughout the body in response to the constant changes in both the internal and external environments. Hormones: Overview and Types are deficient due to pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types tissue destruction.
    • Mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast effect symptoms (same as above)

Diagnosis

  • Most microadenomas are diagnosed incidentally.
  • Clinical suspicion is based on symptoms caused by an excessive hormone in addition to mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast effect symptoms. This combination suggests a pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast
  • Contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the ideal imaging test used to confirm sellar masses, size, and location.
    • Computed tomography is used when MRI is contraindicated (e.g., in patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with pacemakers, metallic implants, etc ETC The electron transport chain (ETC) sends electrons through a series of proteins, which generate an electrochemical proton gradient that produces energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Electron Transport Chain (ETC).)
  • Laboratory tests:
    • Basal prolactin Prolactin A lactogenic hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis. It is a polypeptide of approximately 23 kd. Besides its major action on lactation, in some species prolactin exerts effects on reproduction, maternal behavior, fat metabolism, immunomodulation and osmoregulation. Breasts: Anatomy levels to assess prolactinomas
    • Insulin-like growth factor-1 Insulin-like growth factor-1 A well-characterized basic peptide believed to be secreted by the liver and to circulate in the blood. It has growth-regulating, insulin-like, and mitogenic activities. This growth factor has a major, but not absolute, dependence on growth hormone. It is believed to be mainly active in adults in contrast to insulin-like growth factor II, which is a major fetal growth factor. Hypertrophic and Keloid Scars levels to assess somatotroph adenomas
    • 24-hour urine Urine Liquid by-product of excretion produced in the kidneys, temporarily stored in the bladder until discharge through the urethra. Bowen Disease and Erythroplasia of Queyrat cortisol Cortisol Glucocorticoids levels to assess corticotroph adenomas
    • Thyrotropin-releasing hormone Thyrotropin-releasing hormone A tripeptide that stimulates the release of thyrotropin and prolactin. It is synthesized by the neurons in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. After being released into the pituitary portal circulation, TRH stimulates the release of TSH and PRL from the anterior pituitary gland. Hypothalamic and Pituitary Hormones, thyroid-stimulating hormone Thyroid-stimulating hormone A glycoprotein hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis. Thyrotropin stimulates thyroid gland by increasing the iodide transport, synthesis and release of thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). Thyroid Hormones, free T3 T3 A T3 thyroid hormone normally synthesized and secreted by the thyroid gland in much smaller quantities than thyroxine (T4). Most T3 is derived from peripheral monodeiodination of T4 at the 5′ position of the outer ring of the iodothyronine nucleus. The hormone finally delivered and used by the tissues is mainly t3. Thyroid Hormones and T4 T4 The major hormone derived from the thyroid gland. Thyroxine is synthesized via the iodination of tyrosines (monoiodotyrosine) and the coupling of iodotyrosines (diiodotyrosine) in the thyroglobulin. Thyroxine is released from thyroglobulin by proteolysis and secreted into the blood. Thyroxine is peripherally deiodinated to form triiodothyronine which exerts a broad spectrum of stimulatory effects on cell metabolism. Thyroid Hormones levels to assess thyrotroph adenomas

Management

Treatment strategies depend on the tumor Tumor Inflammation cell type and size.

  • Non-secretory microadenomas don’t require treatment, just follow-up.
  • Secretory adenomas, regardless of size, require medical therapy to counteract hormonal effects.
  • Macroadenomas, regardless of hormone production, require surgical or radiation Radiation Emission or propagation of acoustic waves (sound), electromagnetic energy waves (such as light; radio waves; gamma rays; or x-rays), or a stream of subatomic particles (such as electrons; neutrons; protons; or alpha particles). Osteosarcoma therapy to alleviate compression Compression Blunt Chest Trauma effects ( increased intracranial pressure Increased Intracranial Pressure Normal intracranial pressure (ICP) is defined as < 15 mm Hg, whereas pathologically increased ICP is any pressure ≥ 20 mm Hg. Increased ICP may result from several etiologies, including trauma, intracranial hemorrhage, mass lesions, cerebral edema, increased CSF production, and decreased CSF absorption. Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP), visual disturbances, headaches, etc ETC The electron transport chain (ETC) sends electrons through a series of proteins, which generate an electrochemical proton gradient that produces energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Electron Transport Chain (ETC).).

Medical therapy

  • First-line treatment for prolactinomas are dopamine Dopamine One of the catecholamine neurotransmitters in the brain. It is derived from tyrosine and is the precursor to norepinephrine and epinephrine. Dopamine is a major transmitter in the extrapyramidal system of the brain, and important in regulating movement. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS agonists to suppress prolactin Prolactin A lactogenic hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis. It is a polypeptide of approximately 23 kd. Besides its major action on lactation, in some species prolactin exerts effects on reproduction, maternal behavior, fat metabolism, immunomodulation and osmoregulation. Breasts: Anatomy secretion Secretion Coagulation Studies (cabergoline, bromocriptine Bromocriptine A semisynthetic ergotamine alkaloid that is a dopamine D2 agonist. It suppresses prolactin secretion. Parkinson’s Disease Drugs).
  • First-line treatment for somatotrophic adenomas is growth hormone-inhibiting hormone ( octreotide Octreotide A potent, long-acting synthetic somatostatin octapeptide analog that inhibits secretion of growth hormone and is used to treat hormone-secreting tumors; diabetes mellitus; hypotension, orthostatic; hyperinsulinism; hypergastrinemia; and small bowel fistula. Antidiarrheal Drugs).

Surgical resection

Transsphenoidal adenectomy (removal of the adenoma) or complete/partial hypophysectomy (removal of the pituitary gland Pituitary gland The pituitary gland, also known as the hypophysis, is considered the “master endocrine gland” because it releases hormones that regulate the activity of multiple major endocrine organs in the body. The gland sits on the sella turcica, just below the hypothalamus, which is the primary regulator of the pituitary gland. Pituitary Gland: Anatomy) is used when medical therapy fails.

  • Pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types irradiation can be used to supplement surgical resection.
  • Complications: Patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship may develop postoperative/post-radiation hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism is a condition characterized by pituitary hormone deficiency. This condition primarily results from a disease of the pituitary gland, but it may arise from hypothalamic dysfunction. Pituitary tumors are one of the most common causes. The majority of cases affect the anterior pituitary lobe (adenohypophysis), which accounts for 80% of the gland. Hypopituitarism due to complete resection of pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types tissue or complete loss of pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types function. This requires life-long hormone replacement therapy Hormone Replacement Therapy Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used to treat symptoms associated with female menopause and in combination to suppress ovulation. Risks and side effects include uterine bleeding, predisposition to cancer, breast tenderness, hyperpigmentation, migraine headaches, hypertension, bloating, and mood changes. Noncontraceptive Estrogen and Progestins.

Differential Diagnoses

  • Craniopharyngioma Craniopharyngioma Craniopharyngiomas are rare squamous epithelial tumors with a solid and/or cystic structure that arise from the remnants of Rathke’s pouch along the pituitary stalk, in the suprasellar region. Craniopharyngiomas are histologically benign but tend to invade surrounding structures; thus, they should be treated as low-grade malignancies. Craniopharyngioma: a relatively benign Benign Fibroadenoma tumor Tumor Inflammation that arises in the suprasellar region and can extend into the intrasellar region. Can cause hemianopsia, hyperprolactinemia Hyperprolactinemia Hyperprolactinemia is defined as a condition of elevated levels of prolactin (PRL) hormone in the blood. The PRL hormone is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and is responsible for breast development and lactation. The most common cause is PRL-secreting pituitary adenomas (prolactinomas). Hyperprolactinemia, and hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism is a condition characterized by pituitary hormone deficiency. This condition primarily results from a disease of the pituitary gland, but it may arise from hypothalamic dysfunction. Pituitary tumors are one of the most common causes. The majority of cases affect the anterior pituitary lobe (adenohypophysis), which accounts for 80% of the gland. Hypopituitarism due to compression Compression Blunt Chest Trauma of the pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types and surrounding structures.
  • Meningioma Meningioma Meningiomas are slow-growing tumors that arise from the meninges of the brain and spinal cord. The vast majority are benign. These tumors commonly occur in individuals with a history of high doses of skull radiation, head trauma, and neurofibromatosis 2. Meningioma: a slow-growing tumor Tumor Inflammation that arises from the arachnoid layer. If found near the sellar region, can produce compression Compression Blunt Chest Trauma on the pituitary gland Pituitary gland The pituitary gland, also known as the hypophysis, is considered the “master endocrine gland” because it releases hormones that regulate the activity of multiple major endocrine organs in the body. The gland sits on the sella turcica, just below the hypothalamus, which is the primary regulator of the pituitary gland. Pituitary Gland: Anatomy and cause hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism is a condition characterized by pituitary hormone deficiency. This condition primarily results from a disease of the pituitary gland, but it may arise from hypothalamic dysfunction. Pituitary tumors are one of the most common causes. The majority of cases affect the anterior pituitary lobe (adenohypophysis), which accounts for 80% of the gland. Hypopituitarism
  • Glioma or astrocytoma Astrocytoma Astrocytomas are neuroepithelial tumors that arise from astrocytes, which are star-shaped glial cells (supporting tissues of the CNS). Astrocytomas are a type of glioma. There are 4 grades of astrocytomas. Astrocytoma: neuroepithelial tumors that arise from the supportive tissue of the brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification and, depending on their location, can produce a compression Compression Blunt Chest Trauma effect of the optic tract Optic Tract Nerve fiber originating from the optic chiasm that connects predominantly to the lateral geniculate bodies. It is the continuation of the visual pathway that conveys the visual information originally from the retina to the optic chiasm via the optic nerves. The Visual Pathway and Related Disorders and pituitary gland Pituitary gland The pituitary gland, also known as the hypophysis, is considered the “master endocrine gland” because it releases hormones that regulate the activity of multiple major endocrine organs in the body. The gland sits on the sella turcica, just below the hypothalamus, which is the primary regulator of the pituitary gland. Pituitary Gland: Anatomy
  • Pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types tuberculoma: central nervous system Nervous system The nervous system is a small and complex system that consists of an intricate network of neural cells (or neurons) and even more glial cells (for support and insulation). It is divided according to its anatomical components as well as its functional characteristics. The brain and spinal cord are referred to as the central nervous system, and the branches of nerves from these structures are referred to as the peripheral nervous system. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification tuberculosis Tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex bacteria. The bacteria usually attack the lungs but can also damage other parts of the body. Approximately 30% of people around the world are infected with this pathogen, with the majority harboring a latent infection. Tuberculosis spreads through the air when a person with active pulmonary infection coughs or sneezes. Tuberculosis ( TB TB Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex bacteria. The bacteria usually attack the lungs but can also damage other parts of the body. Approximately 30% of people around the world are infected with this pathogen, with the majority harboring a latent infection. Tuberculosis spreads through the air when a person with active pulmonary infection coughs or sneezes. Tuberculosis) is a rare presentation Presentation The position or orientation of the fetus at near term or during obstetric labor, determined by its relation to the spine of the mother and the birth canal. The normal position is a vertical, cephalic presentation with the fetal vertex flexed on the neck. Normal and Abnormal Labor of TB TB Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex bacteria. The bacteria usually attack the lungs but can also damage other parts of the body. Approximately 30% of people around the world are infected with this pathogen, with the majority harboring a latent infection. Tuberculosis spreads through the air when a person with active pulmonary infection coughs or sneezes. Tuberculosis that only accounts for 1% of all cases. Presents with a gradual onset of headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess and visual disturbances, but can progress to pituitary apoplexy Pituitary apoplexy The sudden loss of blood supply to the pituitary gland, leading to tissue necrosis and loss of function (panhypopituitarism). The most common cause is hemorrhage or infarction of a pituitary adenoma. It can also result from acute hemorrhage into sella turcica due to head trauma; intracranial hypertension; or other acute effects of central nervous system hemorrhage. Clinical signs include severe headache; hypotension; bilateral visual disturbances; unconsciousness; and coma. Hypopituitarism.
  • Carotid artery aneurysm Aneurysm An aneurysm is a bulging, weakened area of a blood vessel that causes an abnormal widening of its diameter > 1.5 times the size of the native vessel. Aneurysms occur more often in arteries than in veins and are at risk of dissection and rupture, which can be life-threatening. Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms: an abnormal dilation of the carotid artery due to a weakened vessel wall. Aneurysms that extend into the sellar region can mimic a pituitary Pituitary A small, unpaired gland situated in the sella turcica. It is connected to the hypothalamus by a short stalk which is called the infundibulum. Hormones: Overview and Types mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast, compress the gland, and cause hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism Hypopituitarism is a condition characterized by pituitary hormone deficiency. This condition primarily results from a disease of the pituitary gland, but it may arise from hypothalamic dysfunction. Pituitary tumors are one of the most common causes. The majority of cases affect the anterior pituitary lobe (adenohypophysis), which accounts for 80% of the gland. Hypopituitarism.

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