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The characteristics of acromegalic patients with hyperprolactinemia and the differences in patients with merely GH-secreting adenomas: clinical analysis of 279 cases.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to evaluate clinical data from a large cohort of acromegalic patients with and without hyperprolactinemia.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Between January 2002 and June 2010, a set of data on 279 acromegalic patients undergoing transsphenoidal surgery was available. Based on preoperative GH and prolactin (PRL) levels, patients were divided into GH and GH+PRL groups. A stabilization or a further improvement of postoperative changes in clinical, hormonal, immunohistochemical, and magnetic resonance imaging parameters was observed in all patients throughout the follow-up period.

RESULTS: The GH group had significantly more coarse facial features, large hands and feet, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus compared with the GH+PRL group but significantly less menstrual disorders (13.8 vs 54.3%, P<0.001) and galactorrhea (3.1 vs 22.4%, P<0.001). The GH group had a higher age at diagnosis compared with the GH+PRL group (45.6 ± 13.9 vs 40.4 ± 11.4 years, P=0.001). The GH group had a smaller mean maximal diameter of the adenomas (2.2 ± 0.9 vs 2.6 ± 1.1 cm, P=0.004). There were no significant correlations between hormone levels and the immunohistochemical results. According to the criteria for hormonal cure of acromegaly, the surgical control rates in the GH and GH+PRL groups were 68.4 and 59.7% respectively (P=0.187). Tumor size was an important factor that affected the results of the operations. The rates of surgical control in GH and GH+PRL groups were 80.7 and 69.1% respectively (P=0.037), and the recurrence rates in the two groups were 7.1 and 11.3% respectively (P=0.185).

CONCLUSIONS: Compared with patients with merely GH-secreting adenomas, acromegalic patients with hyperprolactinemia are characterized by an earlier onset of disease, lesser acromegalic features, lower GH levels, but larger tumor sizes, whereas in female patients, GH-PRL secreting adenomas are associated with higher incidences of menstrual disorders and galactorrhea.

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