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  • Author: Stephanie E Baldeweg x
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Ziad Hussein, Marta Korbonits, Stephanie E Baldeweg, and Teng-Teng Chung


We observed a novel therapeutic response with cabergoline in a male patient with a dopamine-secreting head and neck paraganglioma (HNPGL), macroprolactinoma and germline succinate dehydrogenase C mutation (SDHC). The macroprolactinoma was treated with cabergoline which gave an excellent response. He was found to have raised plasma 3-methoxytyramine of 1014 pmol/L (NR: 0–180 pmol/L); but it was unclear if this was a drug-induced phenomenon from dopamine agonist (DA) therapy. Cabergoline was stopped for 4 weeks and the 3-methoxytyramine level increased significantly to 2185 pmol/L, suggesting a biochemical response of his HNPGL. Subsequently, Gallium-68 Dotatate PET and MRI (Gallium-68 Dotatate PET/MRI) demonstrated a second lesion in the sacrum. Both the HNPGL and metastatic sacral deposit received external beam radiotherapy with a good biochemical and radiological response.


Our case report highlights the rare potential of germline SDHC mutations causing metastatic paraganglioma and concurrent pituitary tumours. Cabergoline treatment may lower elevated 3-methoxytyramine levels and, therefore, mask the biochemical evidence of metastatic disease but also may have therapeutic relevance in dopamine-secreting pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas (PPGLs).

Learning points

  • Several neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) express dopamine D2 and D4 receptors. In this case report, cabergoline significantly reduced plasma 3-methoxytyramine level in a patient with functional HNPGL. Cabergoline might have therapeutic relevance in dopamine-secreting PPGLs.
  • Paragangliomas associated with SDHC mutation classically present with asymptomatic non-functional HNPGL and have rare metastatic potential.
  • The association of pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma and pituitary adenoma is now a well-described rare association (<1%), designated as the three P association. While the three P association is most commonly seen with succinate dehydrogenase B and D mutations, it has also been described in patients with SDHA and SDHC mutations.
  • Cabergoline treatment may lower elevated 3-methoxytyramine levels and mask the biochemical evidence of metastatic disease. Regular functional imaging with Gallium-68 Dotatate PET/MRI provides better evidence of metastatic disease.