Congenital hypopituitarism is characterized by multiple pituitary hormone deficiency, including somatotroph, thyrotroph, lactotroph, corticotroph or gonadotroph deficiencies, due to mutations of pituitary transcription factors involved in pituitary ontogenesis. Congenital hypopituitarism is rare compared with the high incidence of hypopituitarism induced by pituitary adenomas, transsphenoidal surgery or radiotherapy.
The incidence of congenital hypopituitarism is estimated to be between 1:3000 and 1:4000 births.
Clinical presentation is variable, depending on the type and severity of deficiencies and on the age at diagnosis. If untreated, main symptoms include short stature, cognitive alterations or delayed puberty.
Congenital hypopituitarism is due to mutations of several genes encoding pituitary transcription factors. Phenotype varies with the factor involved: PROP1 (somatolactotroph, thyrotroph, gonadotroph and sometimes corticotroph deficiencies; pituitary hyper and hypoplasia), POU1F1 (somatolactotroph and thyrotroph deficiencies, pituitary hypoplasia), HESX1 (variable pituitary deficiencies, septo-optic dysplasia), and less frequently LHX3 (somatolactotroph, thyrotroph and gonadotroph deficiencies, limited head and neck rotation) and LHX4 (variable pituitary deficiencies, ectopic neurohypophysis, cerebral abnormalities).
A diagnosis of combined pituitary hormone deficiency (CPHD) must be suspected when evident causes of hypopituitarism (sellar tumor, postsurgical or radioinduced hypopituitarism. . .) have been ruled out. Clinical, biological and radiological work-up is very important to better determine which transcription factor should be screened. Confirmation is provided by direct sequencing of the transcription factor genes.
Type of transmission varies with the factor and the mutation involved (recessive transmission for PROP1 and LHX3, dominant for LHX4, autosomal or recessive for POU1F1 and HESX1).
An appropriate replacement of hormone deficiencies is required. Strict follow-up is necessary because patients develop new deficiencies (for example late onset corticotroph deficiency in patients with PROP1 mutations).
Prognosis is equivalent to patients without pituitary deficiencies if treatment is started immediately when diagnosis is confirmed, and if a specialized follow-up is performed.
Last update: March 2008
- Pr Thierry BRUE
- Dr Frédéric CASTINETTI