Psychological effects of dopamine agonist treatment in patients with hyperprolactinemia and prolactin-secreting adenomas

in European Journal of Endocrinology
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Dopamine agonists (DAs) are the main treatment for patients with hyperprolactinemia and prolactinomas. Recently, an increasing number of reports emphasized DAs’ psychological side effects, either de novo or as exacerbations of prior psychiatric disease.


Review of prospective and retrospective studies (PubMed 1976, September 2018) evaluating the psychological profile of DA-treated patients with hyperprolactinemia and prolactinomas. Case series and case reports of psychiatric complications were also reviewed.


Most studies were cross-sectional and had a control group of healthy volunteers or patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. There were few prospective studies, with/without control group, that included small numbers of patients. Compared with controls, patients with hyperprolactinemia generally had worse quality of life, anxiety, depression and certain personality traits. Patients receiving DAs had higher impulsivity scores than normoprolactinemic controls. Impulse control disorders (ICDs) were reported in both genders, with hypersexuality mostly in men. Multiple ICDs were sometimes reported in the same patient, usually reversible after DA discontinuation. In case reports, DA therapy was temporally associated with severe depression, manic episodes or psychosis, which improved after discontinuation and administration of psychiatric medications. Gender type of DA, dose and duration of therapy did not correlate with occurrence of psychiatric pathology.


Patients with hyperprolactinemia receiving DAs may develop changes in mood and behavior regardless of prior psychiatric history. Increased awareness for ICDs, depression, mania and other types of psychosis is needed by all physicians who prescribe DAs. Larger prospective controlled clinical studies are needed to delineate prevalence, risk stratification and management.


     European Society of Endocrinology

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