Falsely low serum prolactin in two cases of invasive macroprolactinoma.
ABSTRACT The differential diagnosis of tumors at the base of the skull comprises meningiomas, neurinomas, gliomas, metastatic carcinomas, chordomas, epidermoids, and pituitary adenomas. About half of the pituitary adenomas are prolactinomas which are unique in a sense that medical therapy causes rapid tumor shrinkage and symptomatic improvement. We report on two patients in which the diagnosis of an invasive macroprolactinoma was masked by apparently low prolactin levels caused by a high-dose hook effect in the chemiluminometric assay. The first case a 49 year old male with impairment of hearing on the left side was presented in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology. A massive invasively growing tumor was demonstrated on a cranial MRI. Endocrine tests revealed normal pituitary function and normoprolactinemia. The patient underwent debulking surgery, occipitocervical fusion because of destruction of the first cervical vertebra and subsequent irradiation. The histopathological diagnosis was invasive prolactinoma. A repeat prolactin (PRL) sample, which was assayed using serial dilutions, revealed a real PRL level of 89,700 ng/ml. Dopamine agonist therapy was initiated under which PRL levels declined in parallel with tumor size. The second case a 40 year old male was presented with acute visual loss. Cranial MRI showed a large tumor at the base of the skull. Based on a transnasal biopsy, the preliminary diagnosis was a poorly differentiated carcinoma for which emergency irradiation was performed. Endocrine tests demonstrated partial hypopituitarism and moderate hyperprolactinemia. Hydrocortisone was substituted and dopamine agonist therapy was started because of moderate hyperprolactinemia. The final histopathological diagnosis was invasive prolactinoma. A repeat PRL sample assayed in serial dilution demonstrated an apparent rise in PRL with a maximum value of 6,460 ng/ml. Under dopamine agonist therapy, PRL declined to normal values, tumor size decreased and cranial nerve palsies disappeared. The apparently falsely low prolactin levels in the initial work-up of both patients were caused by a high-dose hook effect in the PRL assay. Serial dilutions of serum PRL samples is, therefore, mandatory in the diagnostic work-up of patients with large invasive tumors at the base of the skull. This avoids unnecessary aggressive and dangerous treatment like surgery or radiotherapy in cases where pharmacological treatment may be the choice.
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ABSTRACT: Large amounts of antigen may produce falsely low values in immunoradiometric assays due to the so-called high dose, hook effect. The study was designed to identify the clinical and biochemical features of patients with pituitary macroadenomas in whom a high dose PRL hook effect was documented. The clinical and biochemical features of four patients with the high dose PRL hook effect were compared with those of 54 patients with pituitary non-functioning adenomas and 11 with macroprolactinomas who underwent transsphenoidal microsurgery between 1989 and 1994. The presence of the high dose PRL hook effect was confirmed by an increase in the initial PRL concentration when the immunoradiometric assay was processed after dilutions of the serum. This phenomenon was observed in 5.8% (4/69) of patients with pituitary macroadenomas. Undiluted median (range) PRL levels were 9140 (1530-83850), 1530 (162-3210) and 2110 mU/l (1470-45,000) in patients with macroprolactinoma, non-functioning macroadenoma and the hook effect, respectively. In patients with the hook effect, the median PRL levels increased to 384,720 (317,520-950,000) mU/l when the assay was performed after serum dilution. The proportion of males was 9.9% (1/11) in the macroprolactinoma group, 46.3% (25/54) in the non-functioning macroadenoma group and 100% (4/4) in patients with the hook effect. Patients with prolactinoma and non-functioning adenoma had mean tumour sizes of 20 +/- 9 and 27 +/- 11 mm (SD), respectively, while in the hook effect group it was 51 +/- 10 mm. This study suggests that the high dose PRL hook effect is observed particularly in patients with very large tumours. The immunoradiometric PRL assay must be performed with serum dilution in order to overcome the high dose PRL hook effect in all new patients with pituitary macroadenomas who may have a prolactinoma.Clinical Endocrinology 04/1996; 44(3):305-9. · 3.40 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Cabergoline is a new long-acting dopamine agonist that is very effective and well tolerated in patients with pathological hyperprolactinemia. The aim of this study was to examine, in a very large number of hyperprolactinemic patients, the ability to normalize PRL levels with cabergoline, to determine the effective dose and tolerance, and to assess the effect on clinical symptoms, tumor shrinkage, and visual field abnormalities. We also evaluated the effects of cabergoline in a large subgroup of patients with bromocriptine intolerance or -resistance. We retrospectively reviewed the files of 455 patients (102 males and 353 females) with pathological hyperprolactinemia treated with cabergoline in 9 Belgian centers. Among these patients, 41% had a microadenoma; 42%, a macroadenoma; 16%, idiopathic hyperprolactinemia; and 1%, an empty sella. The median pretreatment serum PRL level was 124 microg/L (range, 16-26,250 microg/L). A subgroup of 292 patients had previously been treated with bromocriptine, of which 140 showed bromocriptine intolerance and 58 showed bromocriptine resistance. Treatment with cabergoline normalized serum PRL levels in 86% of all patients: in 92% of 244 patients with idiopathic hyperprolactinemia or a microprolactinoma and in 77% of 181 macroadenomas. Pretreatment visual field abnormalities normalized in 70% of patients, and tumor shrinkage was seen in 67% of cases. Side effects were noted in 13% of patients, but only 3.9% discontinued therapy because of side effects. The median dose of cabergoline at the start of therapy was 1.0 mg/week but could be reduced to 0.5 mg/week once control was achieved. Patients with a macroprolactinoma needed a higher median cabergoline dose, compared with those with idiopathic hyperprolactinemia or a microprolactinoma: 1.0 mg/week vs. 0.5 mg/week, although a large overlap existed between these groups. Twenty-seven women treated with cabergoline became pregnant, and 25 delivered a healthy child. One patient had an intended abortion and another a miscarriage. In the patients with bromocriptine intolerance, normalization of PRL was reached in 84% of cases, whereas in the bromocriptine-resistant patients, PRL could be normalized in 70%. We confirmed, in a large-scale retrospective study, the high efficacy and tolerability of cabergoline in the treatment of pathological hyperprolactinemia, leaving few patients with unacceptable side effects or inadequate clinical response. Patients with idiopathic hyperprolactinemia or a microprolactinoma, on average, needed only half the dose of cabergoline as those with macroprolactinomas and have a higher chance of obtaining PRL normalization. Cabergoline also normalized PRL in the majority of patients with known bromocriptine intolerance or -resistance. Once PRL secretion was adequately controlled, the dose of cabergoline could often be significantly decreased, which further reduced costs of therapy.Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 08/1999; 84(7):2518-22. · 6.43 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Mild hyperprolactinemia frequently accompanies the hypopituitarism seen in patients with pituitary macroadenomas that do not secrete PRL. Recent data suggested that the hypopituitarism and mild hyperprolactinemia in this setting are largely due to compression of pituitary stalk and portal vessels. Headaches (HAs) are frequently seen in patients with large adenomas and at times in those with microadenomas. Because the walls of the sella turcica are relatively rigid, we postulate that tumor growth within the sella increases intrasellar pressure (ISP), which in turn impairs portal blood flow, resulting in mild hyperprolactinemia and hypopituitarism. We also postulate that increased mean ISP (MISP) contributes to the development of HAs. Normal MISP is not known but is unlikely to exceed normal intracranial pressure of less than 10-15 mm Hg. We determined MISP in 49 patients who had transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary adenomas. MISP was measured using a commonly available intracranial monitoring kit where a fiberoptic transducer was inserted through a 2-mm dural incision at the time of adenomectomy. Patients with deficient FSH, LH, ACTH, or TSH secretion were considered hypopituitary. Data on serum PRL levels were included for analysis only in patients whose adenomas had negative immunostaining for the hormone. MISP measurements ranged from 7-56 mm Hg, with a mean (+/-SD) of 28.8 +/- 13.5 and a median of 26 mm Hg. The pressure measurements were higher in patients with hypopituitarism than in those with normal pituitary function (P = 4.6013 x 10(-6)). Patients presenting with HAs had higher MISP than those who did not (P = 5.44 x 10(-7)), regardless of their pituitary function or tumor sizes. PRL levels correlated positively with MISP values (r = 0.715, P < 0.0001). Tumor size did not correlate with MISP or PRL levels. The findings of increased MISP in hypopituitary patients and the documented correlation with PRL levels, suggest that ISP is a major mechanism involved in the pathogenesis of hypopituitarism and hyperprolactinemia. Similarly, the increased MISP in patients with HAs, irrespective of tumor size or pituitary function, suggest that increased ISP is a major mechanism involved in the pathogenesis of this symptom. The data support the hypothesis that in patients with pituitary adenomas increased ISP is a major mechanism contributing to the development of hyperprolactinemia, hypopituitarism, and HAs. Increased ISP in these patients leads to compression of the portal vessels and the associated interruption of the delivery of hypothalamic hormones to the anterior pituitary. This would explain the reversibility of pituitary function observed in most patients after adenomectomy. However, increased ISP may also lead to decreased blood supply, resulting in ischemic necrosis in some regions of the pituitary. The latter could limit potential recovery of pituitary function after adenomectomy.Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 06/2000; 85(5):1789-93. · 6.43 Impact Factor