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Annamaria Colao, Mariagiovanna Filippella, Rosario Pivonello, Carolina Di Somma, Antongiulio Faggiano and Gaetano Lombardi

Pituitary tumours express both somatostatin and dopamine receptors. Medical treatment with somatostatin analogues is a cornerstone of GH- and TSH-secreting tumours, while treatment with dopamine agonists is a cornerstone of prolactin-secreting tumours. Dopamine agonists have also demonstrated some efficacy in patients with GH- and TSH-secreting adenomas. Neither ACTH-secreting nor clinically non-functioning tumours have a well-established medical treatment. Nevertheless, some recent results have indicated a potential usefulness of the dopamine agonist cabergoline in patients with pituitary-dependent Cushing’s disease. Combination treatment with both somatostatin analogues and dopamine agonists has been poorly investigated. Some studies conducted in small series have documented an additive effect of both drugs in patients with GH-secreting adenomas. Of mention is that none of the studies were randomised and cross-sectional so that the results should be confirmed by other well-designed studies. No data are available in other pituitary tumour histotypes. Preliminary observations in patients with clinically non-functioning adenomas are very promising.

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Annamaria Colao, Bartolomeo Merola, Diego Ferone, Paolo Marzullo, Gaetana Cerbone, Salvatore Longobardi, Carolina Di Somma and Gaetano Lombardi

Colao A, Merola B, Ferone D, Marzullo P, Cerbone G, Longobardi S, Di Somma C, Lombardi G. Acute and chronic effects of octreotide on thyroid axis in growth hormone-secreting and clinically non-functioning pituitary adenomas. Eur J Endocrinol 1995;133:189–94. ISSN 0804–4643

The effect of somatostatin on thyroid function was studied in 12 patients with growth hormone (GH)-secreting and eight patients with clinically non-functioning adenomas (NFA) and normal pituitary/ thyroid axis; the patients were subjected to the administration of octreotide (OCT), which is a longacting somatostatin analog. All the patients received an acute test with 100 μg of OCT, both short term (1 month) and long term (6 months), with doses ranging from 300 to 600 μg/day, Serum thyroxine (T4). triiodothyronine (T3), free T4, free T3, thyroglobulin and basal and thyrotropin (TSH)-releasing hormone (TRH)-stimulated TSH were evaluated before and after 1 and 6 months of therapy. Circulating GH and insulin-like growth-factor I (IGF-I) in acromegalics and GH, IGF-I and α-subunit in NFA were assessed at baseline and every month. The acute administration of 100 μg of OCT significantly reduced the TSH response to TRH (p < 0.01) in both acromegalics and NFA. In all the patients OCT administration caused a significant decrease of GH, IGF-I and α-subunit levels (p < 0.01). In addition, after 1 month of therapy both baseline and TRH-induced TSH secretion were decreased significantly in acromegalics and NFA. After 6 months of therapy, baseline and TRH-induced TSH was still reduced in NFA. Conversely, in acromegalics, baseline TSH levels were increased while TSH response to TRH was inhibited. No change of T4, T3, free T4 and free T3 was observed in NFA, whereas a slight but significant increase of T4 and decrease of T3 was recorded in acromegalics. In conclusion, OCT does seem to possess long-term suppressive effects on TSH response to TRH, both in acromegalics and NFA. The lack of basal TSH level inhibition in acromegalics could depend on the restored peripheral conversion of T4 into T3 due to the normalized GH levels during long-term OCT administration.

Annamaria Colao, Corso Europa 63, 80127 Napoli, Italy

Free access

Annamaria Colao, Carolina Di Somma, Teresa Cascella, Rosario Pivonello, Giovanni Vitale, Ludovica F S Grasso, Gaetano Lombardi and Silvia Savastano


In the general population, low IGF1 has been associated with higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease and mortality.


To investigate the relationships between IGF1 levels, blood pressure (BP), and glucose tolerance (GT).


Four-hundred and four subjects (200 men aged 18–80 years). Exclusion criteria: personal history of pituitary or cardiovascular diseases; previous or current treatments with drugs interfering with BP, GT, or lipids, corticosteroids (>2 weeks), estrogens, or testosterone (>12 weeks); smoking of >15 cigarettes/day and alcohol abuse (>3 glasses of wine/day).


Two hundred and ninety-six had normal BP (73.3%), 86 had mild (21.3%), and 22 had severe (5.4%) hypertension; 322 had normal GT (NGT (79.7%)), 53 had impaired glucose tolerance (IGT (13.1%)), 29 had diabetes mellitus (7.2%). Normotensive subjects had significantly higher IGF1 levels (0.11±0.94 SDS) than those with mild (−0.62±1.16 SDS, P<0.0001) or severe (−1.01±1.07 SDS, P<0.0001) hypertension. IGF1 SDS (t=−3.41, P=0.001) independently predicted systolic and diastolic BP (t=−2.77, P=0.006) values. NGT subjects had significantly higher IGF1 levels (0.13±0.90 SDS) than those with IGT (−0.86±1.14 SDS, P<0.0001) or diabetes mellitus (−1.31±1.13 SDS, P<0.0001). IGF1 SDS independently predicted fasting glucose (t=−3.49, P=0.0005) and homeostatic model assessment (HOMA)-R (t=−2.15, P=0.033) but not insulin (t=−1.92, P=0.055) and HOMA-β (t=−0.19, P=0.85).


IGF1 levels in the low normal range are associated with hypertension and diabetes in subjects without pituitary and cardiovascular diseases.

Free access

Ginevra Corneli, Carolina Di Somma, Roberto Baldelli, Silvia Rovere, Valentina Gasco, Chiara Giulia Croce, Silvia Grottoli, Mauro Maccario, Annamaria Colao, Gaetano Lombardi, Ezio Ghigo, Franco Camanni and Gianluca Aimaretti

Objective: The diagnosis of growth hormone (GH) deficiency (GHD) in adults is based on a reduced peak GH response to provocative tests, such as the insulin tolerance test (ITT) and the GH-releasing hormone-arginine (GHRH-ARG) test. However, the cut-off limits of peak GH response in lean subjects are not reliable in obese patients; this is noteworthy since adult GHD is often associated with obesity. Aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic cut-off limits of peak GH response to the GHRH-ARG test in overweight and obese as well as in lean population.

Design and methods: The GH responses to the GHRH-ARG test were studied in 322 patients with organic hypothalamic-pituitary disease and in 318 control subjects. Patients were subdivided into two groups on the basis of the number of pituitary hormone deficits, except for GH deficiency: (a) patients with total pituitary hormone deficit (TPHD) and (b) patients without or with no more than two pituitary hormone deficits (PHD). Both patients and control subjects were divided into three subgroups according to body mass index (BMI): lean (BMI <25 kg/m2), overweight (BMI ≥25 and <30 kg/m2) and obese (BMI ≥30 kg/m2). TPHD patients were assumed to be GH deficient, whereas PHD patients may include subjects with either normal or impaired GH secretion. The statistical analysis was carried out by the Receiver-Operating Characteristic curve analysis (Medcalc 7.2). The diagnostic cut-off points were calculated for lean, overweight and obese subjects to provide optimal separation of GH-deficient patients and control subjects according to two criteria: (1) a balance between high sensitivity and high specificity; (2) to provide the highest pair of sensitivity/specificity values for GH deficiency.

Results: In the lean population the best pair of values, with highest sensitivity as 98.7% and highest specificity as 83.7%, was found using a peak GH cut-off point of 11.5 μg/l. In the overweight population the best pair of values, 96.7 and 75.5%, respectively, was found using a peak GH cut-off point of 8.0 μg/l. In the obese population the best pair of values, 93.5 and 78.3%, respectively, was found using a peak GH cut-off point of 4.2 μg/l. Applying the above mentioned cut-off points, among PHD patients we found that 80 subjects (72%) were GHD whereas 31 (28%) had normal GH secretion.

Conclusions: In conclusion the GHRH-ARG test is a reliable tool for the diagnosis of adult GH deficiency in lean, overweight and obese patients, provided that specific BMI-related cut-off limits are assumed.

Free access

Ginevra Corneli, Carolina Di Somma, Flavia Prodam, Jaele Bellone, Simonetta Bellone, Valentina Gasco, Roberto Baldelli, Silvia Rovere, Harald Jörn Schneider, Luigi Gargantini, Roberto Gastaldi, Lucia Ghizzoni, Domenico Valle, Mariacarolina Salerno, Annamaria Colao, Gianni Bona, Ezio Ghigo, Mohamad Maghnie and Gianluca Aimaretti


To define the appropriate diagnostic cut-off limits for the GH response to GHRH+arginine (ARG) test and IGF-I levels, using receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve analysis, in late adolescents and young adults.

Design and methods

We studied 152 patients with childhood-onset organic hypothalamic–pituitary disease (85 males, age (mean±s.e.m.): 19.2±0.2 years) and 201 normal adolescents as controls (96 males, age: 20.7±0.2 years). Patients were divided into three subgroups on the basis of the number of the other pituitary hormone deficits, excluding GH deficiency (GHD): subgroup A consisted of 35 panhypopituitary patients (17 males, age: 21.2±0.4 years), subgroup B consisted of 18 patients with only one or with no more than two pituitary hormone deficits (7 males, age: 20.2±0.9 years); and subgroup C consisted of 99 patients without any known hormonal pituitary deficits (60 males, age: 18.2±0.2 years). Both patients and controls were lean (body mass index, BMI<25 kg/m2). Patients in subgroup A were assumed to be GHD, whereas in patients belonging to subgroups B and C the presence of GHD had to be verified.


For the GHRH+ARG test, the best pair of highest sensitivity (Se; 100%) and specificity (Sp; 97%) was found choosing a peak GH of 19.0 μg/l. For IGF-I levels, the best pair of highest Se (96.6%) and Sp (74.6%) was found using a cut-off point of 160 μg/l (SDS: −1.3). Assuming 19.0 μg/l to be the cut-off point established for GHRH+ARG test, 72.2% of patients in subgroup B and 39.4% in subgroup C were defined as GHD. In patients belonging to group B and C and with a peak GH response <19 μg/l to the test, IGF-I levels were lower than 160 μg/l (or less than 1.3 SDS) in 68.7 and 41.6% of patients respectively predicting severe GHD in 85.7% of panhypopituitary patients (subgroup A).


In late adolescent and early adulthood patients, a GH cut-off limit using the GHRH+ARG test lower than 19.0 μg/l is able to discriminate patients with a suspicion of GHD and does not vary from infancy to early adulthood.