Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pituitary autoimmunity is associated with hypopituitarism in patients with primary empty sella

Lupi I, Manetti L, Raffaelli V, Grasso L, Sardella C, Cosottini M, Iannelli A, Gasperi M, Bogazzi F, Caturegli P, Martino E; Journal of Endocrinological Investigation (May 2011)

Objective: some evidences suggest that late stage autoimmune hypophysitis (AH) may result in empty sella (ES). Aim of the study was to assess the prevalence of serum pituitary antibodies (PitAbs) and their correlation with pituitary function in patients with ES.

Design: in this case-control study 85 patients with primary ES, 16 patients with ES secondary to head trauma, 214 healthy controls, and 16 AH were enrolled in a tertiary referral center.

Methods: PitAbs were assessed in all cases and controls. Endocrine function was assessed by basal hormone measurement and dynamic testing in all ES cases.

Results: PitAbs prevalence was higher in primary ES (6%) than in healthy subjects (0.5% p=0.003) and lower than in AH patients (50%, p<0.0001). PitAbs were not found in patients with secondary ES. Hypopituitarism was found in 49% of primary ES and in 62% of secondary ES (p=0.34). A positive correlation between the presence of PitAbs and hypopituitarism was found in primary ES (p=0.02).

Conclusions: the significant association between pituitary autoimmunity and hypopituitarism suggests that ES, in selected cases, could be the final result of AH.