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A Colao, R Pivonello, S Lastoria, A Faggiano, D Ferone, G Lombardi and G Fenzi

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M. Faggiano, T. Criscuolo, L. Perrone, C. Quarto and A. A. Sinisi


The paper reports on precocious puberty and galactorrhoea in a 4 8/12 year old boy. Roentgenograms of the skull showed slight lateral bulging of sella floor and pneumoencephalography indicated a pituitary adenoma with a suprasellar extension. Pre-operative study of anterior pituitary function was normal except for increased values of LH (900 mIU/ml), testosterone (2000 ng/ml) and prolactin (215 ng/ml). After removal of a chromophobe pituitary adenoma by transfrontal surgery the galactorrhoea disappeared within 10 days. Post-operative endocrine evaluation showed immediate normalization of LH, testosterone and prolactin values.

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A Colao, A Faggiano, R Pivonello, FP Giraldi, F Cavagnini and G Lombardi

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of inferior petrosal sinus sampling (IPSS) in the differential diagnosis of ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome as compared with pituitary imaging techniques. DESIGN AND METHODS: We retrospectively studied the diagnostic accuracy of basal and post corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) IPSS, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography in distinguishing pituitary from ectopic ACTH secretion in 97 Cushing's syndrome patients: 74 with Cushing's disease (CD) and 10 with ectopic ACTH secretion (EAS). Thirteen patients were excluded because of unconfirmed diagnosis. The difference between IPSS and pituitary imaging techniques in the correctly localized pituitary adenoma in the patients with CD was also investigated. RESULTS: The basal ACTH inferior petrosal sinus:periphery (IPS:P) ratio was > or = 2 in 63/74 patients with CD (85%), and in 1/10 EAS patients (10%); after stimulation with CRH, the ratio was > or = 3 in 60/68 patients with CD (88%) and < 3 in all patients with EAS. The basal and post-CRH ACTH IPS:P ratios had a diagnostic accuracy of 86% and 90% respectively. The diagnostic accuracy of IPSS with both ratios was significantly higher than magnetic resonance imaging (50%) and computed tomography (40%). The IPS:P ratio suggested by receiver-operator characteristic (ROC) analysis that better distinguished CD from EAS was 2.10 for the basal and 2.15 for the post-CRH ratios. Using these cut-offs, the specificity of basal ratio and the sensitivity of the post-CRH test rose to 100% and 93% respectively. Diagnostic accuracy remained substantially unchanged for the basal ratio (87% vs 86%), while it rose from 90% to 94% for the post-CRH ratio. The sensitivity of IPSS was significantly higher than that of magnetic resonance and computerized tomography. IPSS was less reliable in identifying the adenoma site found at surgery than magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography (65% vs 75% and 79% respectively). CONCLUSION: In conclusion, IPSS improved the diagnostic performance of imaging techniques. It can help in excluding transsphenoidal surgery in EAS patients. More striking results were obtained when a > or = 2.1:1 basal ratio or a > or = 2.15:1 post-CRH ratio were considered as criteria to distinguish between patients with CD and EAS. To establish correctly the location of the pituitary adenoma, IPSS is less reliable than imaging techniques.

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L. Perrone, T. Criscuolo, A. A. Sinisi, M. Graziani, T. Manzo, R. Sicuranza, A. Bellastella and M. Faggiano

Abstract. Male pseudohermaphroditism in a 6 month old boy, due to congenital 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency, associated with atrial septal defect, is reported. At 2 weeks he required therapy for severe dehydration and projectile vomiting. The parents were first cousins and one female sibling had died suddenly at 2 months. The patient presented with melanoderma, perineal hypospadias with testicles in a bifid scrotum and atrial septal defect (ostium secundum). Complete cytogenetic studies showed a 46,XY karyotype. Serum sodium ranged from 129 to 140 mEq/l and serum potassium from 5.1 to 4.6 mEq/l. Basal plasma hormonal studies showed normal androstenedione (Δ4A), decreased cortisol (F), slightly elevated ACTH, 17-hydroxy-progesterone (17-OH-P) and testosterone (T), and highly increased dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEA-S) levels. ACTH stimulation increased and DXM suppression decreased the plasma levels of DHEA-S, 17-OH-P and T but not that of F; hCG stimulation during cortisone therapy did not change the levels of DHEA-S and T. Corticosteroid therapy normalized electrolyte levels and reduced melanoderma and hormonal hypersecretion. Moderately elevated plasma levels of 17-OH-P and T suggest a partial testicular 3β-HSD deficiency. The multifactorial inheritance and the relatively high prevalence of atrial septal defect vs the rarity of adrenal enzymatic defect suggest a causal association even if a common genetic factor cannot be excluded.

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A Colao, AD Sarno, P Cappabianca, F Briganti, R Pivonello, CD Somma, A Faggiano, B Biondi and G Lombardi

BACKGROUND: Gender differences in tumor size are supposed to exist in hyperprolactinemia since microadenomas are more commonly found in women and macroadenomas in men. Whether this reflects only a delay in diagnosis in men or a true gender difference in tumor pathogenesis is still unclear. OBJECTIVE: To prospectively analyze gender differences in the presentation and response to cabergoline treatment in 219 consecutive newly diagnosed patients with hyperprolactinemia. DESIGN: An open prospective design. SUBJECTS: Of the 219 patients of which 145 were women; 107 patients had macroprolactinoma, 97 had microprolactinoma, and 15 had non-tumoral hyperprolactinemia. METHODS: Presenting clinical symptoms, prolactin levels and tumor size at magnetic resonance imaging were measured before and 3-6 Months after cabergoline therapy. RESULTS: Prevalence of microprolactinomas (56% vs 22%, P=<0.0001) and non-tumoral hyperprolactinemia (10% vs 0%, P=0.01) was higher in women than in men. Men and women were of similar age (median 32 vs 29 Years; P=0.2) and a similar number had gonadal/sexual dysfunction (85 vs 83%, P=0.6); weight gain (70 vs 46%; P=<0.0001) and galactorrhea (52 vs 19%; P=<0.0001) were more common in women. Prolactin levels were higher in men than in women, whether exhibiting macro- (2848+/-2954 vs 1132+/-2351 microg/l, P=<0.0001) or microadenomas (187.8+/-51.8 vs 135.4+/-60.5 microg/l, P=0.009) and the size of the adenoma was larger in men than in women irrespective of macro- (25.8+/-12.4 vs 17.2+/-7.2 mm, P=<0.0001) or microadenoma diagnosis (8.0+/-1.4 vs 7.1+/-1.6 mm, P=0.04). After treatment, prolactin levels decreased by 89.2-96.4% in all groups, and normalized more frequently in micro- than in macroadenoma patients (86 vs 64%, P<0.0001), regardless of gender (70% vs 69%, P=0.9). Menses resumed in 82% of women, libido disturbances improved in 57% of men. Tumor size was reduced by 45+/-25% and 52+/-24% in macroprolactinoma patients and by 44+/-31 and 38+/-29% in microprolactinoma patients in women and men respectively. Visual field defects disappeared in 61% of women and in 71% of men (P=0.6). CONCLUSIONS: Prevalence of macroprolactinomas was similar in men and women; microprolactinomas and non-tumoral hyperprolactinemia were more frequent in women. Clinical symptoms at presentation differed according to gender, with galactorrhea and weight gain more frequent in women. The successful response to cabergoline treatment for 6 Months was higher in micro- than in macroprolactinoma patients and was similar in women and men.

Free access

A Colao, S Spiezia, C Di Somma, P Marzullo, G Cerbone, R Pivonello, A Faggiano and G Lombardi

BACKGROUND: The role of IGF-I in prostate development is currently under thorough investigation since it has been claimed that IGF-I is a positive predictor of prostate cancer. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of chronic GH and IGF-I deficiency alone or associated with testosterone deficiency on prostate pathophysiology in a series of patients with hypopituitarism. DESIGN: Pituitary, androgen and prostate hormonal assessments and transrectal prostate ultrasonography (TRUS) were performed in 30 men with adulthood onset GH deficiency (GHD) and 30 age-matched healthy controls, free from previous or concomitant prostate disorders. RESULTS: Plasma IGF-I levels were significantly lower in GHD patients than in controls (Pearson's coefficient P<0.0001). At study entry, 6 of the 13 hypogonadal patients and 7 of the 17 eugonadal patients had plasma IGF-I below the age-adjusted normal range. At study entry, testosterone levels were low in 13 patients (mean +/-s.e.m., 3.8+/-1.0 nmol/l) while they were normal in the remaining 17 (19.4+/-1.4 nmol/l). No difference in prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and PSA density was found between GHD patients (either hypo- or eugonadal) and controls, while free PSA levels were significantly higher in eugonadal GHD than in controls (0.4+/-0.04 vs 0.2+/-0.03 microg/l; P<0.01). No difference in antero-posterior prostate diameter and transitional zone volume (TZV) was observed among groups, while both transverse and cranio-caudal diameters were significantly lower in hypogonadal (P<0.01) and eugonadal GHD patients (P<0.05) than in controls. Prostate volume (PV) was significantly lower in hypogonadal GHD patients (18.2+/-3.0 ml) and eugonadal GHD patients (22.3+/-1.6 ml), than in controls (25.7+/-1.4, P<0.05). The prevalence of prostate hyperplasia (PV>30 ml) was significantly lower in hypogonadal and eugonadal GHD patients, without any difference between them (15.3% and 5.8%), than in controls (43.3%) (chi(2)=6.90, P=0.005). No difference was found in PV between patients with normal or deficient IGF-I levels both in the hypogonadal group (19. 9+/-4.7 vs 17.3+/-4.0 ml) and in the eugonadal group (22.6+/-2.3 vs 21.8+/-2.5 ml). When controls and patients were divided according to age (<60 years and >60 years), PV was significantly lower in hypogonadal GHD patients aged below 60 years than in age-matched controls (P<0.01) or eugonadal GHD patients (P<0.01), without any difference between controls and eugonadal GHD patients. Controls aged above 60 years had significantly higher PV than both hypogonadal and eugonadal GHD patients (P<0.01). Calcifications, cysts or nodules were found in 56.7% of patients and in 50% of controls (chi(2)=0.067, P=0.79). In controls, but not in GHD patients, PV and TZV were correlated with age (r=0.82, r=0.46, P<0. 0001 and P<0.01 respectively). PV was also correlated with GH (r=-0. 52, P=0.0026), IGF-I (r=-0.62, P=0.0002) and IGF-binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) levels (r=-0.39, P=0.032) but neither with testosterone or dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels. In GHD patients TZV but not PV was correlated with age (r=0.58, P=0.0007) and neither TZV nor PV were correlated with GH, IGF-I or IGFBP-3 levels. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic GH deficiency in adulthood causes a decrease in prostate size, mostly in patients with concomitant androgen deficiency and age below 60 years, without significant changes in the prevalence of structural prostate abnormalities.

Open access

A Veltroni, E Cosaro, F Spada, N Fazio, A Faggiano, A Colao, S Pusceddu, M C Zatelli, D Campana, A Piovesan, A Pia, E M Grossrubatscher, A Filice, A Bianchi, P Razzore, M Toaiari, S Cingarlini, L Landoni, R Micciolo and M V Davì


Management of malignant insulinomas is challenging due to the need to control both hypoglycaemic syndrome and tumor growth. Literature data is limited to small series.

Aim of the study

To analyze clinico-pathological characteristics, treatments and prognosis of patients with malignant insulinoma.

Materials and methods

Multicenter retrospective study on 31 patients (male: 61.3%) diagnosed between 1988 and 2017.


The mean age at diagnosis was 48 years. The mean NET diameter was 41 ± 31 mm, and 70.8% of NETs were G2. Metastases were widespread in 38.7%, hepatic in 41.9% and only lymph nodal in 19.4%. In 16.1% of the cases, the hypoglycaemic syndrome occurred after 46 ± 35 months from the diagnosis of originally non-functioning NET, whereas in 83.9% of the cases it led to the diagnosis of NET, of which 42.3% with a mean diagnostic delay of 32.7 ± 39.8 months. Surgical treatment was performed in 67.7% of the cases. The 5-year survival rate was 62%. Overall survival was significantly higher in patients with Ki-67 ≤10% (P = 0.03), insulin level <60 µU/mL (P = 0.015) and in patients who underwent surgery (P = 0.006). Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) was performed in 45.1%, with syndrome control in 93% of patients.


Our study includes the largest series of patients with malignant insulinoma reported to date. The hypoglycaemic syndrome may occur after years in initially non-functioning NETs or be misunderstood with delayed diagnosis of NETs. Surgical treatment and Ki67 ≤10% are prognostic factors associated with better survival. PPRT proved to be effective in the control of hypoglycaemia in majority of cases.