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      Hyperprolactinemia. Long-term effects of bromocriptine.

      The American Journal of Medicine

      Time Factors, Amenorrhea, etiology, Bromocriptine, administration & dosage, adverse effects, therapeutic use, Erectile Dysfunction, Estradiol, blood, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Galactorrhea, Adult, Humans, Infertility, Female, Luteinizing Hormone, Male, Middle Aged, Pituitary Neoplasms, drug therapy, radiography, Pregnancy, Prolactin, Thyroxine

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          Patients with hyperprolactinemia may be managed by pituitary surgery or irradiation, bromocriptine treatment, or a combination of these methods, and some patients remain untreated. Little is known of the long-term consequences of some of these therapeutic regimens. Forty-six hyperprolactinemic patients (40 female and six male) managed solely with bromocriptine or no treatment over a period of 12 months to six years were therefore evaluated in this study. Nine patients with radiologically normal pituitary fossae were untreated and 10 received bromocriptine, 7.5 to 10 mg daily, while 20 patients with radiologic evidence of a pituitary tumor were treated with bromocriptine, generally 10 to 20 mg daily. Patients were assessed clinically, biochemically, and radiologically before treatment and at least six weeks after discontinuation of therapy. A further seven patients were similarly assessed before and after eight bromocriptine-induced pregnancies. Symptoms persisted in the untreated group of nine patients, although menstruation returned in four of the females with previous amenorrhea; serum prolactin levels remained elevated, other pituitary function did not change, and pituitary fossae remained normal radiologically. In all patients treated with bromocriptine, symptoms improved irrespective of radiologic findings on the pituitary, and were abolished in 67 percent during treatment associated with a decrease in serum prolactin levels in all, and a return of levels to within normal limits in 80 percent of patients. Persistent side effects were usually dose-related, but remained troublesome in 13 percent. Bromocriptine-induced tumor regression was evident radiologically in all patients with suprasellar tumor tissue and in some with purely intrasellar adenomas. This effect occurred rapidly and persisted or increased throughout follow-up. On discontinuation of treatment, prolactin levels remained significantly lower than before therapy (mean 2,934 versus 5,052 mU/liter, p less than 0.05) but were within the normal range in only two patients. Other pituitary function was unaltered, or improved in some patients with definite tumors. Bromocriptine-induced pregnancy produced no permanent change in clinical, biochemical, or radiologic status. Long-term bromocriptine treatment for hyperprolactinemia is thus highly effective in alleviating symptoms and suppressing prolactin secretion, and induces persistent tumor regression on treatment without deterioration of other pituitary function in patients with macroadenomas. On discontinuation of therapy, however, hyperprolactinemia usually recurs, and treatment may therefore need to be continued for years.

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