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      Clinical Characteristics, Management, and Outcome of 22 Cases of Primary Hypophysitis

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          Primary hypophysitis causes varying degrees of endocrine dysfunction and mass effect. The natural course and best treatment have not been well established.


          Medical records of 22 patients who had been diagnosed with primary hypophysitis between January 2001 and March 2013 were retrospectively reviewed. Based on the anatomical location, we classified the cases as adenohypophysitis (AH), infundibuloneurohypophysitis (INH), and panhypophysitis (PH). Clinical presentation, endocrine function, pathologic findings, magnetic resonance imaging findings, and treatment courses were reviewed.


          Among 22 patients with primary hypophysitis, 81.8% (18/22) had involvement of the posterior pituitary lobe. Two patients of the AH (2/3, 66.6%) and three patients of the PH (3/10, 30%) groups initially underwent surgical mass reduction. Five patients, including three of the PH (3/10, 33.3%) group and one from each of the AH (1/3, 33.3%) and INH (1/9, 11.1%) groups, initially received high-dose glucocorticoid treatment. Nearly all of the patients treated with surgery or high-dose steroid treatment (9/11, 82%) required continuous hormone replacement during the follow-up period. Twelve patients received no treatment for mass reduction due to the absence of acute symptoms and signs related to a compressive mass effect. Most of them (11/12, 92%) did not show disease progression, and three patients recovered partially from hormone deficiency.


          Deficits of the posterior pituitary were the most common features in our cases of primary hypophysitis. Pituitary endocrine defects responded less favorably to glucocorticoid treatment and surgery. In the absence of symptoms related to mass effect and with the mild defect of endocrine function, it may not require treatment to reduce mass except hormone replacement.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Autoimmune hypophysitis.

          Autoimmune (lymphocytic) hypophysitis is a rare disease that should be considered in the differential diagnosis of any nonsecreting pituitary mass, especially when occurring during pregnancy or postpartum. We have analyzed 370 articles published from January 1962 to October 2004 and identified a total of 379 patients with primary lymphocytic hypophysitis. The present review synthesizes the clinical and research data reported in this body of scientific literature.
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            Lymphocytic infundibuloneurohypophysitis as a cause of central diabetes insipidus.

             K Nakao,  H Imura,  Y Ogawa (1993)
            Central diabetes insipidus may be familial, secondary to hypothalamic or pituitary disorders, or idiopathic. Idiopathic central diabetes insipidus is characterized by selective hypofunction of the hypothalamic-neurohypophysial system, but its cause is unknown. We studied 17 patients with idiopathic diabetes insipidus, in whom the duration of the disorder ranged from 2 months to 20 years. Only four patients had been treated with vasopressin before the study began. All the patients underwent endocrinologic studies and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with a 1.5-T superconducting unit, and two patients had biopsies of the neurohypophysis or the pituitary stalk. Nine of the 17 patients had thickening of the pituitary stalk, enlargement of the neurohypophysis, or both and lacked the hyperintense signal of the normal neurohypophysis. In the remaining eight patients, the pituitary stalk and the neurohypophysis were normal, although the hyperintense signal was absent. The abnormalities of thickening and enlargement were seen on MRI only in the patients who had had diabetes insipidus for less than two years, and the abnormalities disappeared during follow-up, suggesting a self-limited process. In addition to vasopressin deficiency, two patients had mild hyperprolactinemia and nine had impaired secretory responses of growth hormone to insulin-induced hypoglycemia. The two biopsies revealed chronic inflammation, with infiltration of lymphocytes (mainly T lymphocytes) and plasma cells. Diabetes insipidus can be caused by lymphocytic infundibuloneurohypophysitis, which can be detected by MRI. The natural course of the disorder is self-limited.
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              Lymphocytic hypophysitis: a rare or underestimated disease?

              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.

                Author and article information

                Endocrinol Metab (Seoul)
                Endocrinol Metab (Seoul)
                Endocrinology and Metabolism
                Korean Endocrine Society
                December 2014
                29 December 2014
                : 29
                : 4
                : 470-478
                [1 ]Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
                [2 ]Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Samsung Changwon Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Changwon, Korea.
                [3 ]Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Andong Sungso hospital, Andong, Korea.
                [4 ]Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Dong-A Medical Center, Dong-A University College of Medicine, Busan, Korea.
                [5 ]Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Gachon University of Medicine and Science, Incheon, Korea.
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: Kwang-Won Kim. Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Gachon University of Medicine and Science, 21 Namdong-daero 774beon-gil, Namdong-gu, Incheon 405-760, Korea. Tel: +82-32-460-8309, Fax: +82-32-469-4320, kwkim@ 123456gilhospital.com

                *These authors contributed equally to this work.

                Copyright © 2014 Korean Endocrine Society

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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