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      Lymphocytic hypophysitis: a rare or underestimated disease?

      European Journal of Endocrinology

      Autoimmune Diseases, immunology, pathology, Humans, Lymphocytes, Pituitary Diseases, Pituitary Gland

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          Lymphocytic hypophysitis (LYH) is an uncommon autoimmune disease in which the pituitary gland is infiltrated by lymphocytes, plasma cells and macrophages and its function is usually impaired. It has to be suspected in pregnant women and in women with recent delivery presenting with hyperprolactinemia, headache, visual field alterations and changes of one or more pituitary hormone secretions with secondary impairment of related peripheral target glands, especially when associated with other autoimmune endocrine or non-endocrine disorders. It can also occur less frequently in prepubertal or post-menopausal women and in men. Headache, visual field impairment and more rarely diplopia are due to extrasellar pituitary enlargement with optic chiasma compression and/or to invasion of cavernous sinuses. Among the 'isolated' pituitary hormone deficiencies, ACTH deficit is usually the earliest and most frequent hormonal impairment and in rare cases can induce an acute secondary hyposurrenalism as the first sign of the disease, with high mortality in affected patients. Histopathological findings from pituitary biopsy show lymphoplasmacytic infiltrate with lymphoid aggregates surrounding atropic acini of pituitary cells; immunohistochemical analysis shows numerous mast cells randomly distributed and also localized in the vicinity of capillaries, suggesting a possible influence on capillary permeability and angiogenesis, thus favoring the inflammatory and immunological aggression against pituitary cells. Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging shows uniform sellar floor depression and an extrasellar symmetrical pituitary enlargement, usually displacing the optic chiasma, which shows a rapid homogeneous enhancement after gadolinium also involving the adjacent dura (dural tail). Antipituitary antibodies have been detected in several patients with LYH but their role needs to be clarified. Since a possible spontaneous remission can occur, a careful follow-up is required in subclinical patients without important hyposurrenalism or symptomatic extrasellar expansion. Medical (immunosuppressive, replacement and antiprolactinemic) and neurosurgical (decompression) treatments are needed in clinical symptomatic patients.

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          Autoimmune Diseases, immunology, pathology, Humans, Lymphocytes, Pituitary Diseases, Pituitary Gland


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