Central hypocortisolism as part of combined pituitary hormone deficiency due to mutations of PROP-1 gene

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Asteria, C.
Oliveira, JHA
Abucham, Julio [UNIFESP]
Beck-Peccoz, P.
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Background One of the causes of combined pituitary hormone deficiency (CPHD) is represented by Prophet of Pit-1 (PROP-1) gene inactivating mutations. This disorder is generally characterized by GH, TSH, prolactin (PRL), and gonadotropin deficiency, but recent papers have described a concomitant alteration of the corticotrope function.Objective: To make a detailed investigation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in two sisters with PROP-1 gene mutations.Patients: Two female siblings (17 and 16 years old) with CPHD, belonging to a Brazilian family of consanguineous parents, presented with growth retardation and central hypothyroidism during childhood, and showed central hypogonadism at the age of puberty. No clear clinical symptoms and signs of hypocortisolism were present. Methods: GH, TSH, free thyroxine, total tri-iodothyronine, PRL, LH, FSH, ACTH and cortisol were measured in basal condition and after appropriate testing. the molecular study was performed by PCR amplification and sequencing analysis of PROP-1 gene.Results: Both patients showed GH, PRL. LH and FSH deficiencies, associated with absent responses to an insulin tolerance test (ITT), TRH and GnRH injection. Circulating concentrations of TSH were normal in basal conditions, but failed to respond to a TRH test. Plasma ACTH concentrations were normal, but serum cortisol concentrations were below the lower limit of the normal range, showing a trend to decrease during 6 years of follow-up. the serum ACTH response to ITT was impaired, whereas its response to CRH was normal and prolonged. the cortisol response to both tests, and to the ACTH test, was clearly impaired. in both sisters, the genetic analysis showed the presence of a homozygous 2-bp deletion (296delGA) of PROP-1 gene, which results in the synthesis of a protein with no residual functional activity.Conclusion: in addition to GH. TSH, PRL and gonadotropin deficiency, patients with PROP-1 gene mutations can present with late-onset central hypocortisolism, possibly beause of the lack of important paracrine factors normally produced by the cells surrounding the corticotropes and absent in the pituitary of these patients, or because of progressive corticotrope apoptosis. This finding indicates the need for life-long endocrine monitoring of PROP-1-deficient patients.
European Journal of Endocrinology. Bristol: Bio Scientifica Ltd, v. 143, n. 3, p. 347-352, 2000.