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Katarina Berinder, Olof Akre, Fredrik Granath and Anna-Lena Hulting


Experimental evidence indicates that prolactin might play a role in tumorigenesis of several human cancers, but data on cancer risk in hyperprolactinemia patients are sparse. The aim of this study was to investigate cancer risk in hyperprolactinemia patients.


A population-based matched cohort study in Sweden.


The hyperprolactinemia cohort consisted of patients hospitalized for hyperprolactinemia from 1987 to 1995 identified in the National Patient Register (n=585) and a hospital cohort of prolactinoma patients at Karolinska University Hospital (n=384). For each patient, ten matched individuals were identified via the Register of Population. Cancer occurrence was ascertained via the Swedish Cancer Registry. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated by Cox proportional hazards regression.


Seventy-three malignant tumors were identified in the hyperprolactinemia patients and 660 tumors in the comparison group (HR 1.31; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.02–1.68), mainly attributed to an increased risk of upper gastrointestinal cancer in both males and females (HR 3.69; 95% CI: 1.70–8.03) and hematopoietic cancer in females (HR 3.51; 95% CI: 1.06–11.6). Twelve breast cancers occurred in the female patients, corresponding to an HR of 1.09 (95% CI: 0.60–1.99). Prostate cancer risk in hyperprolactinemia men was reduced (HR 0.40; 95% CI: 0.16–0.99).


An increased overall cancer risk was found in hyperprolactinemia patients, but no increased risk of breast cancer in women and a reduced risk of prostate cancer in men. These findings warrant further investigations and to be confirmed in larger studies but may indicate the importance of an active treatment strategy and follow-up of hyperprolactinemia patients.

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Anna-Lena Hulting, Björn Meister, Lena Carlsson, Agneta Hilding and Olle Isaksson


The effects of the peptide galanin on growth hormone secretion were studied in vitro using cultured rat and human anterior pituitary cells, and in vivo by iv administration of galanin in both rats and humans. Galanin in concentrations from 10 nmol/l to 1 μmol/l did not alter basal GH release, but slightly inhibited GHRH-stimulated GH release from cultured rat anterior pituitary cells. Galanin (1 μmol/l) did not significantly change basal or GHRH-stimulated GH secretion from cultured human anterior pituitary cells. In contrast, iv injection of 1 μg (300 pmol) galanin to rats induced an increase in plasma GH that was reproducible at repetitive injections. The galanin-induced GH release in rats was of a lower magnitude than the increase in plasma GH after iv injections of GHRH, and was seen with a 5-15 min delay in comparison to iv administered GHRH. In man, iv infusions of galanin (40 pmol ·kg−1 · min−1 · (40 min)) also caused a significant increase in plasma GH, but it occurred 25-30 min after the beginning of the infusion. These results suggest an indirect action of galanin on GH release in both rats and humans, i.e. galanin does not directly affect the somatotropes. In agreement with a central action, no binding sites for galanin could be demonstrated in the rat anterior pituitary by autoradiography. Since galanin did not affect somatostatin release from fragments of rat mediobasal hypothalamus, the stimulatory effects of galanin on GH release are most likely mediated via a stimulatory effect on GHRH neurons.

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Sophie Bensing, Anna-Lena Hulting, Eystein S Husebye, Olle Kämpe and Kristian Løvås

In this article, we review published studies covering epidemiology, natural course and mortality in primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI) or Addison’s disease. Autoimmune PAI is a rare disease with a prevalence of 100–220 per million inhabitants. It occurs as part of an autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome in more than half of the cases. The patients experience impaired quality of life, reduced parity and increased risk of preterm delivery. Following a conventional glucocorticoid replacement regimen leads to a reduction in bone mineral density and an increase in the prevalence of fractures. Registry studies indicate increased mortality, especially evident in patients diagnosed with PAI at a young age and in patients with the rare disease autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type-1. Most notably, unnecessary deaths still occur because of adrenal crises. All these data imply the need to improve the therapy and care of patients with PAI.

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Ove Tørring, Bengt Isberg, Hans Erik Sjöberg, Elisabet Bucht and Anna Lena Hulting

Hyperprolactinemia is associated with decreased bone mineral density, which may be caused by the hypogonadism and hypoestrogenicity noticed in patients with hyperprolactinemia. Since calcitonin inhibits the bone resorption, and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) has important anabolic effects on the skeleton, lack of one or both peptides may contribute to the development of osteopenia. We therefore measured the plasma calcitonin and IGF-I levels in nine women with hyperprolactinemia caused by a prolactin-producing pituitary tumor. The calcium-stimulated C-cell reactivity was studied by measuring calcitonin in plasma during a calcium clamp before and after normalization of serum prolactin during treatment with bromocriptine. Basal CT levels were measurable but lower than in healthy controls. Basal IGF-I levels and calcium-stimulated plasma calcitonin were normal in the hyperprolactinemic state and similar to the calcitonin and IGF-I levels during bromocriptine treatment. The serum prolactin levels decreased (p<0·001) and the serum estradiol levels increased (p<0·001). The bone mineral density of the lumbar spine increased significantly during treatment. Thus, basal plasma CT levels are slightly reduced in hyperprolactinemic women. However, the reversible osteopenia in hyperprolactinemic women is less likely to be caused by inhibited IGF-I secretion or by deficient CT levels since the CT response to calcium is normal. In addition, bromocriptine treatment with normalization of prolactin levels is beneficial for the bone mineral content in this condition.