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Helena Gleeson, Rakesh Amin and Mohamad Maghnie

Craniopharyngioma management is challenging. Although histology is benign, the tumour can be clinically aggressive with local invasion and frequent recurrences. Extensive morbidity may be present at diagnosis and furthermore, occurs as a consequence of neurosurgery and radiotherapy. Hypothalamic symptoms can have a devastating effect on quality of life and may reduce life expectancy. This case highlights both the challenge of managing hyperphagia and morbid obesity and the importance of initial treatment preserving existing hypothalamic function and the need to avoid tumour recurrence and further surgery.

A 11-year old boy presented with hydrocephalus secondary to a craniopharyngioma (he had visual failure and hypopituitarism but few hypothalamic symptoms). He underwent radical resection followed by radiotherapy. Following this treatment, he developed psychological and behavioural problems and hyperphagia. Weight gain in the first year (an increase from +1.4 to +3.7 s.d.) resulted in poor mobility and a fall which caused a slipped femoral epiphysis. In the next year, there was a 6-month period of unexpected weight loss (+4.2 to +3.8 s.d.) that culminated in emergency treatment for diabetic ketoacidosis secondary to severe insulin resistance. He developed a left hemiplegia, and a subsequent cerebral angiogram identified multiple stenoses of the Circle of Willis with a Moyamoya appearance secondary to radiotherapy. Weight gain has continued (+3.8 to +5.5 s.d.) so that bariatric surgery is a management option.

Free access

Mohamad Maghnie, Anders Lindberg, Maria Koltowska-Häggström and Michael B Ranke

Objectives

Neuroimaging has become an essential part of the diagnostic process in children with GH deficiency (GHD). The aim of the study was to document the frequency of neuroanatomical abnormalities in a very large cohort of children with GHD and to relate these findings to patient clinical characteristics.

Design and methods

Results of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were reported in 15 043 of 43 725 children with non-acquired GHD (idiopathic, neurosecretory dysfunction (NSD) and known congenital cause) who were enrolled in KIGS (Pfizer International Growth Database) between 1987 and 2011. Clinical characteristics of patients before GH treatment with normal MRI (idiopathic GHD (IGHD) and NSD) were compared with those of patients with abnormal pituitaries (hypoplasia, empty sella (ES), HME (hypoplastic anterior pituitary, missing pituitary stalk and ectopic posterior pituitary)).

Results

Abnormal MRIs were found in 4032 (26.8%) children, within which ES (n=1178 (7.8%)) and HME (n=1019 (6.8%)) were the most frequent findings. In 2361 children diagnosed as IGHD or NSD before MRI examination, anatomical abnormalities ((pituitary hypoplasia: n=974); (HME: n=459)) were documented. Patients with anatomical abnormalities had more severe characteristics of GHD: normal MRI < pituitary hypoplasia < ES < HME.

Conclusions

GHD is associated with a great variety of neuroanatomical abnormalities as identified by MRI. The investigation and evaluation of MRI need to be conducted in a structured mode. There is an association between anatomical and functional abnormalities of the pituitary.

Restricted access

Mohamad Maghnie, Antonia Moretta, Anice Valtorta, Daniela Larizza, Mariam Sayegh, Anna Maria Greco, Enio Castoldi and Francesca Severi

Maghnie M, Moretta A, Valtorta A, Larizza D, Sayegh M, Greco AM, Castoldi E, Severi F. Growth hormone response to growth hormone-releasing hormone varies with the hypothalamic–pituitary abnormalities. Eur J Endocrinol 1996;135:198–204. ISSN 0804–4643

We determined growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) levels after a 3 h infusion of escalating doses of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH(1-29)) followed by a bolus injection in hypopituitary patients with marked differences in pituitary features at magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in order to evaluate further the contribution of MRI in the definition of pituitary GH reserve in GH-deficient patients. Twenty-nine patients (mean age 14.5 ±4.0 years) were studied. Group I comprised 13 patients: seven with isolated GH deficiency (IGHD) (group Ia) and six with multiple pituitary hormone deficiency (MPHD) (group Ib) who had anterior pituitary hypoplasia, unidentified pituitary stalk and ectopic posterior pituitary at MRI. Group II consisted of eight patients with IGHD and small anterior pituitary/empty sella, while in group III eight had IGHD and normal morphology of the pituitary gland. Growth hormone and IGF-I levels were measured during saline infusion at 08.30–09.00 h, as well as after infusion of GHRH (1–29) at escalating doses for 3 h: 0.2 μg/kg at 09.00–10.00 h. 0.4 μg/kg at 10.00–11.00 h. 0.6 μg/kg at 11.00–12.00 h and an intravenous bolus of 2 μg/kg at 12.00 h. In the group I patients, the peak GH response to GHRH(1–29) was delayed (135–180 min) and extremely low (median 2 mU/l). In group II it was delayed (135–180 min), high (median 34.8 mU/l) and persistent (median 37.4 mU/l at 185–210 min). In group III the peak response was high (median 30.8 mU/l) and relatively early (75–120 min) but it declined rapidly (median 14.4 mU/l at 185–210 min). In one group I patient, GH response increased to 34.6 mU/l. The mean basal value of IGF-I levels was significantly lower in group I(0.23 ± 0.05 U/ml) than in groups II (0.39 ± 0.13U/ml, p < 0.01) and III (1.54 ± 0.46 U/ml, p < 0.001) and did not vary significantly during the GHRH(1–29) infusion. The present study demonstrates that the impaired GH response to 3 h of continuous infusion of escalating doses of GHRH(1–29) was strikingly indicative for pituitary stalk abnormality, strengthening the case for use of GHRH in the differential diagnosis of GH deficiency. The low GH response, more severe in MPHD patients, might be dependent on the residual somatotrope cells, while the better response (34.6 mU/l) in the group la patients might suggest that prolonged GHRH infusion could help in evaluating the amount of residual GH pituitary tissue. Pituitary GH reserve, given the GH response to GHRH infusion in GH-deficient patients with small anterior pituitary/empty sella, seems to be maintained.

M Maghnie, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pavia, IRCCS Policlinico S Matteo, I-27100 Pavia, Italy

Free access

Mohamad Maghnie, Maria Cristina Pennati, Elisa Civardi, Natascia Di Iorgi, Gianluca Aimaretti, Maria Loreta Foschini, Ginevra Corneli, Carmine Tinelli, Ezio Ghigo, Renata Lorini and Sandro Loche

Objectives: Evaluation of GH response to ghrelin in patients with GH deficiency (GHD) may help to elucidate the site and mechanism of action of ghrelin. We aimed to investigate the GH-releasing effect of ghrelin in children and young adults with childhood-onset GHD.

Design: All subjects underwent ghrelin testing and neuro-imaging examination. Magnetic resonance imaging evidenced the presence of a vascular pituitary stalk (VPS) or its complete absence (PSA).

Patients and methods: Seventeen prepubertal children and nine adult patients with childhood-onset GHD were selected for the study. The children were enrolled at a median age of 5.8 years. The adult subjects were included at a median age of 23.3 years. The diagnosis of GHD in the adult patients had been established at a median age of 8.5 years. Ghrelin was administered at a dose of 1 μg/kg body weight, i.v. at time zero, and blood for GH determination was obtained at 0, 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 105 and 120 min.

Results: Median GH response after ghrelin was similar between children and adults. Median peak GH response to ghrelin (7.45 μg/l, IQR: 3.9–11.3 μg/l) was significantly higher in patients with VPS (10.9 μg/l, IQR: 2.4–15.1 μg/l) than in those with PSA (IQR: 2.3–6.7 μg/l; P = 0.001). It was significantly higher in subjects with isolated GHD (12.5 μg/l, IQR: 10.8–15.5 μg/l) than in those with multiple pituitary hormone deficiencies (5.15 μg/l, IQR: 2.4–9.0 μg/l; P = 0.003). No correlation was found between the GH peak after ghrelin and body mass index.

Conclusion: The GH response to ghrelin in patients with congenital hypopituitarism depends on the degree of the anatomical abnormalities and lends further support to the assumption that the main action of the peptide is exerted at the hypothalamic level and requires the integrity of hypothalamic–pituitary connections.

Free access

Andrea Secco, Anna Elsa Maria Allegri, Natascia di Iorgi, Flavia Napoli, AnnaLisa Calcagno, Enrica Bertelli, Irene Olivieri, Giovanna Pala, Stefano Parodi, Roberto Gastaldi, Andrea Rossi and Mohamad Maghnie

Objective

Controversies exist about posterior pituitary (PP) function in subjects with ectopic PP (EPP) and with cerebral midline defects and/or their co-occurrence. We investigate water and electrolyte disturbances in patients at risk for PP dysfunction.

Design

The study was conducted in a single Pediatric Endocrinology Research Unit.

Methods

Forty-two subjects with childhood-onset GH deficiency were subdivided into five groups: normal magnetic resonance imaging (n=8, group 1); EPP (n=15, group 2); septo-optic dysplasia (SOD) with normal PP (n=4, group 3); EPP and SOD without (n=7, group 4), and with additional midline brain abnormalities (n=8, group 5). At a mean age of 16.0±1.1 years, they underwent a 120 min i.v. infusion with hypertonic 5% saline and evaluation of plasma osmolality (Posm), arginine vasopressin (AVP), thirst score (in groups 1 and 2), and urinary osmolality were performed.

Results

Mean Posm and AVP significantly increased from baseline scores (284.7±4.9 mosm/kg and 0.6±0.2 pmol/l) to 120 min after saline infusion (300.5±8.0 mosm/kg and 10.3±3.3 pmol/l, P<0.0001). Group 5 showed higher mean Posm and lower mean AVP at all time points (P<0.0001). Mean thirst score did not show a significantly different trend between the groups 1 and 2. Urine osmolality was above 750 mosm/kg in all but seven patients after osmotic challenge.

Conclusions

Patients with midline brain abnormalities and EPP have defective osmoregulated AVP. Patients with EPP and congenital hypopituitarism have normal PP function.

Free access

Chiara Guzzetti, Anastasia Ibba, Sabrina Pilia, Nadia Beltrami, Natascia Di Iorgi, Alessandra Rollo, Nadia Fratangeli, Giorgio Radetti, Stefano Zucchini, Mohamad Maghnie, Marco Cappa and Sandro Loche

Objective

The diagnosis of GH deficiency (GHD) in children and adolescents is established when GH concentrations fail to reach an arbitrary cut-off level after at least two provocative tests. The objective of the study was to define the optimal GH cut-offs to provocative tests in children and adolescents.

Design

Retrospective study in 372 subjects who underwent evaluation of GH secretion. GH and IGF-I were measured by chemiluminescence assay in all samples. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was used to evaluate the optimal GH cut-offs and the diagnostic accuracy of provocative tests.

Methods

Seventy four patients with organic GHD (GH peak <10μg/L after two provocative tests) and 298 control subjects (GH response >10μg/L to at least one test) were included in the study. The provocative tests used were arginine, insulin tolerance test (ITT) and clonidine. Diagnostic criteria based on cut-offs identified by ROC analysis (best pair of values for sensitivity and specificity) were evaluated for each test individually and for each test combined with IGF-I SDS.

Results

The optimal GH cut-off for arginine resulted 6.5μg/L, 5.1μg/L for ITT and 6.8μg/L for clonidine. IGF-I SDS has low accuracy in diagnosing GHD (AUC=0.85). The combination of the results of provocative tests with IGF-I concentrations increased the specificity.

Conclusions

The results of the ROC analysis showed that the cut-off limits which discriminate between normal and GHD are lower than those commonly employed. IGF-I is characterized by low diagnostic accuracy.

Free access

Mohamad Maghnie, Gianluca Aimaretti, Simonetta Bellone, Gianni Bona, Jaele Bellone, Roberto Baldelli, Carlo de Sanctis, Luigi Gargantini, Roberto Gastaldi, Lucia Ghizzoni, Andrea Secco, Carmine Tinelli and Ezio Ghigo

Objective: A consensus exists that severe growth hormone deficiency (GHD) in adults is defined by a peak GH response to insulin-induced hypoglycemia (insulin tolerance test, ITT) of less than 3 μg/l based on a cohort of subjects with a mean age of 45 years.

Design and methods: By considering one of the following two criteria for the diagnosis of probable permanent GHD, i.e. the severity of GHD (suggested by the presence of multiple pituitary hormone deficiencies (MPHD)) or the magnetic resonance (MR) imaging identification of structural hypothalamic–pituitary abnormalities, 26 patients (17 males, 9 females, mean age 20.8±2.3 years, range 17–25 years) were selected for re-evaluation of the GH response to ITT and their IGF-I concentration. Eight subjects had isolated GHD (IGHD) and 18 had MPHD. Normative data for peak GH were obtained after ITT in 39 healthy subjects (mean age 21.2±4.4 years, range 15.1–30.0 years) and the reference range for IGF-I was calculated using normative data from 117 healthy individuals.

Results: Mean peak GH response to ITT was significantly lower in the 26 patients (1.8±2.0 μg/l, range 0.1–6.1 μg/l) compared with the 39 controls (18.5±15.5 μg/l, range 6.1–84.0 μg/l; P < 0.0001). One subject with septo-optic dysplasia had a peak GH response of 6.1 μg/l that overlapped the lowest peak GH response obtained in normal subjects. There was an overlap for IGF-I SDS between subjects with IGHD and MPHD, as well as with normal controls. The diagnostic accuracy of a peak GH response of 6.1 μg/l showed a 96% sensitivity with 100% specificity. The maximum diagnostic accuracy with IGF-I SDS was obtained with a cut-off of −1.7 SDS (sensitivity 77%, specificity 100%) while an IGF-I ≤ − 2.0 SDS showed a sensitivity of 62%.

Conclusion: Our data show that the cut-off value of the peak GH response to ITT of less than 3 μg/l or 5 μg/l and of IGF-I of less than −2.0 SDS are too restrictive for the diagnosis of permanent GH deficiency in the transition period. We suggest that permanent GHD could be investigated more accurately by means of an integrated analysis of clinical history, the presence of MPHD, IGF-I concentration and the MR imaging findings of structural hypothalamic–pituitary abnormalities.

Free access

Elisabetta Godano, Giovanni Morana, Natascia Di Iorgi, Angela Pistorio, Anna Elsa Maria Allegri, Flavia Napoli, Roberto Gastaldi, Annalisa Calcagno, Giuseppa Patti, Annalisa Gallizia, Sara Notarnicola, Marta Giaccardi, Serena Noli, Mariasavina Severino, Domenico Tortora, Andrea Rossi and Mohamad Maghnie

Objective

To investigate the role of T2-DRIVE MRI sequence in the accurate measurement of pituitary stalk (PS) size and the identification of PS abnormalities in patients with hypothalamic–pituitary disorders without the use of gadolinium.

Design

This was a retrospective study conducted on 242 patients who underwent MRI due to pituitary dysfunction between 2006 and 2015. Among 135 eligible patients, 102 showed eutopic posterior pituitary (PP) gland and 33 showed ‘ectopic’ PP (EPP).

Methods

Two readers independently measured the size of PS in patients with eutopic PP at the proximal, midpoint and distal levels on pre- and post-contrast T1-weighted as well as T2-DRIVE images; PS visibility was assessed on pre-contrast T1 and T2-DRIVE sequences in those with EPP. The length, height, width and volume of the anterior pituitary (AP), PP height and length and PP area were analyzed.

Results

Significant agreement between the two readers was obtained for T2-DRIVE PS measurements in patients with ‘eutopic’ PP; a significant difference was demonstrated between the intraclass correlation coefficient calculated on the T2-DRIVE and the T1-pre- and post-contrast sequences. The percentage of PS identified by T2-DRIVE in EPP patients was 72.7% compared to 30.3% of T1 pre-contrast sequences. A significant association was found between the visibility of PS on T2-DRIVE and the height of AP.

Conclusion

T2-DRIVE sequence is extremely precise and reliable for the evaluation of PS size and the recognition of PS abnormalities; the use of gadolinium-based contrast media does not add significant information and may thus be avoided.

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

Objective

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.

Results

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).

Conclusions

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.

Open access

Armand Valsesia, Pierre Chatelain, Adam Stevens, Valentina A Peterkova, Alicia Belgorosky, Mohamad Maghnie, Franco Antoniazzi, Ekaterina Koledova, Jerome Wojcik, Pierre Farmer, Benoit Destenaves, Peter Clayton and the PREDICT Investigator group

Meta-analysis has shown a modest improvement in first-year growth response to recombinant human GH (r-hGH) for carriers of the exon 3-deleted GH receptor (GHRd3) polymorphism but with significant interstudy variability. The associations between GHRd3 and growth response to r-hGH over 3 years in relation to severity of GH deficiency (GHD) were investigated in patients from 14 countries. Treatment-naïve pre-pubertal children with GHD were enrolled from the PREDICT studies (NCT00256126 and NCT00699855), categorized by peak GH level (peak GH) during provocation test: ≤4 μg/l (severe GHD; n=45) and >4 to <10 μg/l mild GHD; n=49) and genotyped for the GHRd3 polymorphism (full length (fl/fl, fl/d3, d3/d3). Gene expression (GE) profiles were characterized at baseline. Changes in growth (height (cm) and SDS) over 3 years were measured. There was a dichotomous influence of GHRd3 polymorphism on response to r-hGH, dependent on peak GH level. GH peak level (higher vs lower) and GHRd3 (fl/fl vs d3 carriers) combined status was associated with height change over 3 years (P<0.05). GHRd3 carriers with lower peak GH had lower growth than subjects with fl/fl (median difference after 3 years −3.3 cm; −0.3 SDS). Conversely, GHRd3 carriers with higher peak GH had better growth (+2.7 cm; +0.2 SDS). Similar patterns were observed for GH-dependent biomarkers. GE profiles were significantly different between the groups, indicating that the interaction between GH status and GHRd3 carriage can be identified at a transcriptomic level. This study demonstrates that responses to r-hGH depend on the interaction between GHD severity and GHRd3 carriage.