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Open access

Chloe Broughton, Jane Mears, Adam Williams and Kathryn Lonnen

Summary

Pituitary adenomas can be classified as functioning or non-functioning adenomas. Approximately 64% of clinically non-functioning pituitary adenomas are found to be gonadotroph adenomas on immunohistochemistry. There are reported cases of gonadotroph adenomas causing clinical symptoms, but this is unusual. We present the case of a 36-year-old female with abdominal pain. Multiple large ovarian cysts were identified on ultrasound requiring bilateral cystectomy. Despite this, the cysts recurred resulting in further abdominal pain, ovarian torsion and right oophorectomy and salpingectomy. On her 3rd admission with abdominal pain, she was found to have a rectus sheath mass which was resected and histologically confirmed to be fibromatosis. Endocrine investigations revealed elevated oestradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) at the upper limit of the normal range and a suppressed luteinising hormone (LH). Prolactin was mildly elevated. A diagnosis of an FSH-secreting pituitary adenoma was considered and a pituitary MRI revealed a 1.5 cm macroadenoma. She underwent transphenoidal surgery which led to resolution of her symptoms and normalisation of her biochemistry. Subsequent pelvic ultrasound showed normal ovarian follicular development. Clinically functioning gonadotroph adenomas are rare, but should be considered in women presenting with menstrual irregularities, large or recurrent ovarian cysts, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and fibromatosis. Transphenoidal surgery is the first-line treatment with the aim of achieving complete remission.

Learning points:

  • Pituitary gonadotroph adenomas are usually clinically non-functioning, but in rare cases can cause clinical symptoms.

  • A diagnosis of a functioning gonadotroph adenoma should be considered in women presenting with un-explained ovarian hyperstimulation and/or fibromatosis.

  • In women with functioning gonadotroph adenomas, the main biochemical finding is elevated oestradiol levels. Serum FSH levels can be normal or mildly elevated. Serum LH levels are usually suppressed.

  • Transphenoidal surgery is the first-line treatment for patients with functioning gonadotroph adenomas, with the aim of achieving complete remission.

Open access

Yew Wen Yap, Steve Ball and Zubair Qureshi

Summary

The coexistence of primary hypothyroidism and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)-stimulating pituitary macroadenoma can be a rare occurrence and can make diagnosis very challenging. We describe a case of a 44-year-old female with a history of fatigue, poor concentration, weight gain and amenorrhoea together with biochemical evidence of primary autoimmune hypothyroidism. Her initial TSH levels were elevated with low normal free thyroxine (T4) levels. Levothyroxine treatment was initiated and the dose was gradually titrated to supraphysiologic doses. This led to the normalisation of her TSH levels but her free T4 and triiodothyronine (T3) levels remained persistently elevated. This prompted a serum prolactin check which returned elevated at 2495 µ/L, leading onto pituitary imaging. A MRI of the pituitary gland revealed a pituitary macroadenoma measuring 2.4 × 2 × 1.6 cm. Despite starting her on cabergoline therapy with a reduction in her prolactin levels, her TSH levels began to rise even further. Additional thyroid assays revealed that she had an abnormally elevated alpha subunit at 3.95 (age-related reference range <3.00). This corresponded to a thyroid-secreting hormone pituitary macroadenoma. She went on to have a transphenoidal hypophysectomy. Histology revealed tissues staining for TSH, confirming this to be a TSH-secreting pituitary macroadenoma. This case highlighted the importance of further investigations with thyroid assay interferences, heterophile antibodies, alpha subunit testing and anterior pituitary profile in cases of resistant and non-resolving primary hypothyroidism.

Learning points:

  • Levothyroxine treatment in primary hypothyroidism can potentially unmask the presence of a latent TSH-secreting pituitary macroadenoma, which can make diagnosis very challenging.

  • A high index of suspicion should prompt clinicians to further investigate cases of primary hypothyroidism which despite increasing doses of levothyroxine treatment with normalisation of TSH, the free T4 and T3 levels remain persistently elevated.

  • Clinicians should consider investigating for adherence to levothyroxine, thyroid assay interference, heterophile antibodies, TSH dilution studies, alpha subunit and anterior pituitary profile testing to further clarity the diagnosis in these patients.

  • Although coexistent cases of TSHoma with primary hypothyroidism are rare, it should always be in the list of differential diagnoses in cases of unresolving primary hypothyroidism.

Open access

Fergus Keane, Aoife M Egan, Patrick Navin, Francesca Brett and Michael C Dennedy

Summary

Pituitary apoplexy represents an uncommon endocrine emergency with potentially life-threatening consequences. Drug-induced pituitary apoplexy is a rare but important consideration when evaluating patients with this presentation. We describe an unusual case of a patient with a known pituitary macroadenoma presenting with acute-onset third nerve palsy and headache secondary to tumour enlargement and apoplexy. This followed gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GNRH) agonist therapy used to treat metastatic prostate carcinoma. Following acute management, the patient underwent transphenoidal debulking of his pituitary gland with resolution of his third nerve palsy. Subsequent retrospective data interpretation revealed that this had been a secretory gonadotropinoma and GNRH agonist therapy resulted in raised gonadotropins and testosterone. Hence, further management of his prostate carcinoma required GNRH antagonist therapy and external beam radiotherapy. This case demonstrates an uncommon complication of GNRH agonist therapy in the setting of a pituitary macroadenoma. It also highlights the importance of careful, serial data interpretation in patients with pituitary adenomas. Finally, this case presents a unique insight into the challenges of managing a hormonal-dependent prostate cancer in a patient with a secretory pituitary tumour.

Learning points

  • While non-functioning gonadotropinomas represent the most common form of pituitary macroadenoma, functioning gonadotropinomas are exceedingly rare.

  • Acute tumour enlargement, with potential pituitary apoplexy, is a rare but important adverse effect arising from GNRH agonist therapy in the presence of both functioning and non-functioning pituitary gonadotropinomas.

  • GNRH antagonist therapy represents an alternative treatment option for patients with hormonal therapy-requiring prostate cancer, who also have diagnosed with a pituitary gonadotropinoma.

Open access

Ramez Ibrahim, Atul Kalhan, Alistair Lammie, Christine Kotonya, Ravindra Nannapanenni and Aled Rees

Summary

A 30-year-old female presented with a history of secondary amenorrhoea, acromegalic features and progressive visual deterioration. She had elevated serum IGF1 levels and unsuppressed GH levels after an oral glucose tolerance test. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a heterogeneously enhancing space-occupying lesion with atypical extensive calcification within the sellar and suprasellar areas. Owing to the extent of calcification, the tumour was a surgical challenge. Postoperatively, there was clinical, radiological and biochemical evidence of residual disease, which required treatment with a somatostatin analogue and radiotherapy. Mutational analysis of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor-interacting protein (AIP) gene was negative. This case confirms the relatively rare occurrence of calcification within a pituitary macroadenoma and its associated management problems. The presentation, biochemical, radiological and pathological findings are discussed in the context of the relevant literature.

Learning points

  • Calcification of pituitary tumours is relatively rare.

  • Recognising calcification in pituitary adenomas on preoperative imaging is important in surgical decision-making.

  • Gross total resection can be difficult to achieve in the presence of extensive calcification and dictates further management and follow-up to achieve disease control.