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Julia D J Thomas and John P Monson

It is now accepted that adults with severe GH deficiency (GHD) demonstrate impaired physical and psychological well-being and may benefit from replacement with recombinant human GH. Post-marketing surveillance surveys, such as the Pfizer International Metabolic Database (KIMS), were initially set-up to provide safety data on long-term treatment but have the added benefit of providing ongoing observational data on the effect of GH replacement on body composition, lipid and glucose status, hypertension, bone density and quality of life. These data demonstrate that although GHD has clinical impact at all ages, the individual consequences of this condition may take on greater significance at different stages in life. At all ages, accurate, safe diagnosis and appropriate GH dosing are necessary to provide the individual with the best possible outcome.

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Charlotte Hoybye, Peter Jönsson, John P Monson, Maria Kołtowska-Häggström, Václav Hána, Mitchell Geffner and Roger Abs



The impact of the aetiology of childhood-onset GH deficiency (CO-GHD) on the clinical presentation during adulthood and the response to GH replacement has been poorly defined. Our study aims to characterize CO-GHD in adults due to different aetiologies and evaluate the effect of 2 years of GH replacement therapy.

Design and methods

Data from 353 adults with CO-GHD from Pfizer International Metabolic Database KIMS were retrospectively grouped according to GHD aetiology: non-organic disorder (n=147), organic pituitary disease (n=159), and brain tumour (n=47). Extent of pituitary dysfunction, IGF-I concentration, lipid concentrations and quality-of-life (QoL) were assessed at baseline and after 2 years of GH replacement.


GHD was diagnosed at a later age in the organic pituitary group than in the other groups, resulting in a shorter duration of GH treatment during childhood. However, the final height was greater in the organic pituitary group. Panhypopituitarism was most common in the non-organic disorder and in the organic pituitary groups, while isolated GHD was more prominent in the brain tumour group. Serum IGF-I levels were the lowest in the non-organic group. QoL was the poorest in the brain tumour group. Lipid profile and QoL improved significantly during GH replacement.


The adverse consequences of CO-GHD in adulthood vary between aetiologies, but improve similarly with GH treatment. It is, therefore, important to consider retesting all patients with CO-GHD in early adulthood and, if persistent severe GHD is confirmed, recommence GH replacement.

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Oskar Ragnarsson, Anders F Mattsson, John P Monson, Helena Filipsson Nyström, Ann-Charlotte Åkerblad, Maria Kołtowska-Häggström and Gudmundur Johannsson


Quality of life (QoL) is impaired in hypopituitary patients and patients with primary adrenal insufficiency. The aim of this study was to analyse the impact of glucocorticoid (GC) replacement on QoL. The main hypothesis was that ACTH-insufficient patients experience a dose-dependent deterioration in QoL.

Design, patients and methods

This was a retrospective analysis of data from KIMS (Pfizer International Metabolic Database). Data from 2737 adult GH-deficient (GHD) hypopituitary patients were eligible for analysis. Thirty-six per cent were ACTH sufficient and 64% ACTH insufficient receiving a mean±s.d. hydrocortisone equivalent (HCeq) dose of 22.3±8.7 mg (median 20.0). QoL at baseline and 1 year after commencement of GH replacement was assessed by the QoL-assessment of GHD in adults.


At baseline, no significant difference in QoL was observed between ACTH-sufficient and -insufficient patients. Increasing HCeq dose was associated with worse QoL. Patients on HCeq ≤10 mg had the best and patients receiving ≥25 mg demonstrated the poorest QoL. At 1 year of GH replacement, the improvement in QoL did not differ between ACTH-sufficient and -insufficient patients, and no association was observed between HCeq dose and QoL improvement.


Adult hypopituitary patients with untreated GHD receiving GC replacement have similar QoL as ACTH-sufficient patients. Among ACTH-insufficient patients, there is a dose-dependent association between increasing dose and impaired QoL. This association may be explained by supraphysiological GC exposure although it remains plausible that clinicians may have increased GC doses in order to address otherwise unexplained QoL deficits.

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Maria Koltowska-Häggström, Anders F Mattsson, John P Monson, Paul Kind, Xavier Badia, Felipe F Casanueva, Jan Busschbach, Hans P F Koppeschaar and Gudmundur Johannsson

Objective: To determine whether impaired quality of life (QoL) in adults with GH deficiency (GHD) is reversible with long-term GH therapy and whether the responses in QoL dimensions differ from each other.

Methods: QoL was measured by the Quality of Life–Assessment for Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults (QoL-AGHDA) in general population samples in England & Wales, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden (n = 892, 1038, 868 and 1682 respectively) and compared with corresponding patients’ data from KIMS (Pfizer International Metabolic Database) (n = 758, 247, 197 and 484 respectively) for 4–6 years a follow-up. The subsets of patients from England and Wales, and Sweden with longitudinal data for 5 years’ follow-up were also analysed. The change of the total QoL-AGHDA scores and responses within dimensions were evaluated. Subanalyses were performed to identify any specificity in response pattern for gender, age, disease-onset and aetiology.

Results: Irrespective of the degree of impairment, overall QoL improved dramatically in the first 12 months, with steady progress thereafter towards the country-specific population mean. Problems with memory and tiredness were the most serious burden for untreated patients, followed by tenseness, self-confidence and problems with socialising. With treatment, these improved in the reverse order, normalising for the latter three.

Conclusions: Long-term GH replacement results in sustained improvements towards the normative country-specific values in overall QoL and in most impaired dimensions. The lasting improvement and almost identical pattern of response in each patient subgroup and independent of the level of QoL impairment support the hypothesis that GHD may cause these patients’ psychological problems.

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Krystallenia I Alexandraki, Gregory A Kaltsas, Andrea M Isidori, Scott A Akker, William M Drake, Shern L Chew, John P Monson, G Michael Besser and Ashley B Grossman


Cyclical Cushing's syndrome may render the diagnosis and management of Cushing's disease difficult. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of cyclicity and variability in patients with Cushing's disease, and to identify putative distinctive features.


Retrospective case-note study.


We analysed the case records of 201 patients with Cushing's disease in a retrospective case-note study. Cyclicity was considered as the presence of at least one cycle, defined as a clinical and/or biochemical hypercortisolaemic peak followed by clinical and biochemical remission, followed by a new clinical and/or biochemical hypercortisolaemic peak. The fluctuations of mean serum cortisol levels, as assessed by a 5-point cortisol day curve, defined the variability.


Thirty (14.9%; 26 females) patients had evidence of cyclicity/variability. ‘Cycling’ patients were older but no difference in sex or paediatric distribution was revealed between ‘cycling’ and ‘non-cycling’ patients. The median number of cycles was two for each patient, and 4 years was the median intercyclic period. A trend to lower cure rate post-neurosurgery and lower adenoma identification was observed in ‘cycling’ compared with ‘non-cycling’ patients. In multivariate analysis, older patients, longer follow-up, female sex and no histological identification of the adenoma were associated with an increased risk of cyclic disease.


This large population study reveals that cyclicity/variability is not an infrequent phenomenon in patients with Cushing's disease, with a minimum prevalence of 15%. Physicians should be alert since it can lead to frequent problems in diagnosis and management, and no specific features can be used as markers.

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Roger Abs, Ulla Feldt-Rasmussen, Anders F Mattsson, John P Monson, Bengt-Åke Bengtsson, Miklós I Góth, Patrick Wilton and Maria Koltowska-Häggström

Objective: The aim of the present study was to clarify the relationship between GH deficiency (GHD) and some cardiovascular risk factors and to analyse the effect of GH replacement therapy in a large number of patients over a prolonged period of time.

Design: Data for analysis were retrieved from KIMS (Pfizer International Metabolic Database). Serum concentrations of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol and triglycerides were obtained from 2589 patients at baseline and from 1206 patients after 1 and 2 years of GH replacement therapy. Body mass index (BMI), waist and hip, resting blood pressure and body composition were also measured.

Results: At baseline, the unfavourable effects of GHD were most obvious in the lipid profile demonstrating elevated mean total and LDL-cholesterol, in the increased waist circumference and the elevated BMI. The cholesterol concentration, BMI and body composition were significantly adversely affected by a number of factors, including age, sex and the use of anti-epileptic drugs. The therapeutic effect of GH was essentially uniform across the whole population. GH replacement reduced significantly the mean total and LDL-cholesterol, the waist circumference and the fat mass and was maintained during 2 years.

Conclusions: This analysis of a large number of patients confirmed that GHD adults present with an increased cardiovascular risk. The sustained improvement of the adverse lipid profile and body composition suggests that GH replacement therapy may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and the premature mortality seen in hypopituitary patients with untreated GHD.

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Bhaloo Desai, Jacqueline M Burrin, Catherine A Nott, Jennian F Geddes, Edmund J Lamb, Simon JB Aylwin, Diana F Wood, Chandra Thakkar and John P Monson

Desai B, Burrin JM, Nott CA, Geddes JF, Lamb EJ, Aylwin SJB, Wood DF, Thakkar C, Monson JP. Glycoprotein hormone alpha-subunit production and plurihormonality in human corticotroph tumours—an in vitro and immunohistochemical study. Eur J Endocrinol 1995;133:25–32. ISSN 0804–4643

Glycoprotein hormone alpha-subunit (αSU) is a recognized product of clinically non-functioning, glycoprotein hormone-secreting and somatotroph adenomas but has not been studied systematically in corticotroph tumours. We have performed immunohistochemistry for αSU in a consecutive series of four corticotroph tumours causing Nelson's syndrome, three corticotroph macroadenomas, 12 corticotroph microadenomas and one adrenocorticotrophin-secreting bronchial carcinoid tumour. In addition we have assessed αSU secretion in vitro in corticotroph adenomas from two subjects with Cushing's disease and two subjects with Nelson's syndrome. Immunohistochemistry, performed after microwave treatment of sections to enhance antigen retrieval, demonstrated αSU positivity in 3/4 Nelson's tumours, 2/3 corticotroph macroadenomas, 7/12 microadenomas and one bronchial carcinoid. Eight of the 13 tumours positive for αSU were also immunostained after microwave pretreatment of sections for thyrotrophin (six positive), follicle-stimulating hormone (four positive), luteinizing hormone (three positive), β-chorionic gonadotrophin (five positive), growth hormone (three positive) and prolactin (two positive) immunoreactivity. In vitro cell cultures of all four tumours studied secreted adrenocorticotrophin and three secreted αSU, with the variable presence of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, thyrotrophin, growth hormone and prolactin, in basal culture. The αSU secretion was augmented by phorbol ester (160 ± 15%, sem, n = 3 wells; p < 0.01) and 8-bromo-cAMP (138 ± 8%; p < 0.05) in one tumour. These data indicate that plurihormonality and, in particular, αSU elaboration and secretion by corticotroph tumours is more common than hitherto recognized. Possible mechanisms include abnormal or deregulated gene expression, autocrine or paracrine effects or a stem cell origin of tumour. The possible relationship of αSU production to corticotroph tumour behaviour and prognosis remains to be established.

John P Monson, Dept of Endocrinology, Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London El 1BB, UK

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Helen L Storr, Farhad Afshar, Matthew Matson, Ian Sabin, Kate M Davies, Jane Evanson, P Nicholas Plowman, G Michael Besser, John P Monson, Ashley B Grossman and Martin O Savage

Objective: Early diagnosis and effective treatment of paediatric Cushing’s disease (CD) is necessary to minimise associated morbidity. Accepted first-line treatment is selective transsphenoidal microadenomectomy (TSS), which can be technically difficult, and cure rates vary considerably between centres. In our paediatric CD patient group we have assessed the possible factors which may influence cure by TSS.

Subjects and methods: From 1983–2004, 27 paediatric patients (16 males, 11 females; mean age±s.d., 13.1±3.2 yr; range, 6.4–17.8 yr) with CD were managed in our centre and underwent TSS. Sixteen patients (59%), seven males and nine females (mean age±s.d., 14.2±2.5 yr; range, 8.2–17.8 yr), were cured (post-operative serum cortisol < 50 nM). Eleven patients, nine males and two females (mean age±s.d., 11.5±3.6 yr; range, 6.4–17.8 yr) had post-operative cortisol levels above 50 nM (2–20 days), with mean serum cortisol levels at 09:00 h of 537 nM (range 269–900 nM) indicating a lack of cure. These 11 patients received external beam pituitary radiotherapy (RT). One patient with a pituitary macroadenoma had a post-operative cortisol level of < 50 nM but 0.8 yr later showed an elevated cortisol and residual disease.

Results: The patients cured by TSS alone were significantly older than those not cured (P = 0.038; Student’s t test). All patients had CT/MRI pituitary imaging: 14 were reported to have microadenomas and one macroadenoma, while 12 were reported as normal. Bilateral simultaneous inferior petrosal sinus sampling (BSIPSS) with i.v. corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) administration was introduced as a pre-operative investigation in 1986 and was performed in 21 patients (78%), on BSIPSS, 16 (76%) had evidence suggesting pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion (central to peripheral (IPS:P) ACTH ratio after CRH of ≥ 3.0) and 16 (76%) showed lateralisation of ACTH secretion (IPSG of ≥ 1.4). There was concordance between the BSIPSS finding and the position of the microadenoma at surgery in 17/21 (81%) patients. Of the 16 patients showing lateralisation of ACTH secretion, 12 (75%) were cured by TSS. Of the four without lateralisation of ACTH, suggesting a midline lesion, 3 (75%) were cured by TSS. Post-operative pituitary hormone deficiencies in the patients cured by TSS were: pan-hypopituitarism 1/16, isolated growth hormone deficiency (GHD) (peak GH on glucagon/ITT < 1–17.9 mU/l) 9/16 and diabetes insipidus 3/16.

Conclusion: Over a 21-year period selective adenomectomy by TSS cured 59% of all paediatric CD patients, with higher age favouring cure. Introduction of BSIPSS resulted in the demonstration of a high rate of lateralisation of ACTH secretion consistent with the surgical identification of the adenoma, and therefore appears likely to have contributed to the higher surgical cure rate.

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Maralyn R Druce, Vasantha M Muthuppalaniappan, Benjamin O'Leary, Shern L Chew, William M Drake, John P Monson, Scott A Akker, Michael Besser, Anju Sahdev, Andrea Rockall, Soumil Vyas, Satya Bhattacharya, Matthew Matson, Daniel Berney and Ashley B Grossman


Preoperative localisation of insulinoma improves cure rate and reduces complications, but may be challenging.


To review diagnostic features and localisation accuracy for insulinomas.


Cross-sectional, retrospective analysis.


A single tertiary referral centre.


Patients with insulinoma in the years 1990–2009, including sporadic tumours and those in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndromes.


Patients were identified from a database, and case notes and investigation results were reviewed. Tumour localisation by computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), octreotide scanning, endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and calcium stimulation was evaluated.

Main outcome measure(s)

Insulinoma localisation was compared to histologically confirmed location following surgical excision.


Thirty-seven instances of biochemically and/or histologically proven insulinoma were identified in 36 patients, of which seven were managed medically. Of the 30 treated surgically, 25 had CT (83.3%) and 28 had MRI (90.3%), with successful localisation in 16 (64%) by CT and 21 (75%) by MRI respectively. Considered together, such imaging correctly localised 80% of lesions. Radiolabelled octreotide scanning was positive in 10 out of 20 cases (50%); EUS correctly identified 17 lesions in 26 patients (65.4%). Twenty-seven patients had calcium stimulation testing, of which 6 (22%) did not localise, 17 (63%) were correctly localised, and 4 (15%) gave discordant or confusing results.


Preoperative localisation of insulinomas remains challenging. A pragmatic combination of CT and especially MRI predicts tumour localisation with high accuracy. Radionuclide imaging and EUS were less helpful but may be valuable in selected cases. Calcium stimulation currently remains useful in providing an additional functional perspective.

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Maralyn R Druce, Vasantha M Muthuppalaniappan, Benjamin O'Leary, Shern L Chew, William M Drake, John P Monson, Scott A Akker, Michael Besser, Anju Sahdev, Andrea Rockall, Soumil Vyas, Satya Bhattacharya, Matthew Matson, Daniel Berney and Ashley B Grossman

The authors apologise for an error in the author list of the article titled above published in the journal, volume 162 on page 971. R H Reznek should be the penultimate author. The full list of authors and their affiliations for this article is as follows:

Maralyn R Druce1, Vasantha M Muthuppalaniappan1, Benjamin O'Leary1, Shern L Chew1, William M Drake1, John P Monson1, Scott A Akker1, Michael Besser1, Anju Sahdev2, Andrea Rockall2, Soumil Vyas3, Satya Bhattacharya3, Matthew Matson2, Daniel Berney4, R H Reznek2 and Ashley B Grossman1

Departments of 1Endocrinology, 2Radiology, 3Surgery and 4Histopathology, Barts and the London Medical School, St Bartholomew's Hospital, London EC1A 7BE, UK.