Hypopituitarism as a consequence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its possible relation with cognitive disabilities and mental distress
V. Popovic1, S. Pekic1, D. Pavlovic2, N. Maric3, M. Jasovic-Gasic3, B. Djurovic4, M. Medic-Stojanoska5, V. Zivkovic1, M. Stojanovic1, M. Doknic1, N. Milic6, M. Djurovic1, C. Dieguez7, and F.F. Casanueva8
1Institute of Endocrinology, 2Neurology, 3Psychiatry, 4Neurosurgery, 6Statistics, University Clinical Center, Belgrade; 5Institute of Endocrinology, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Union of Serbia and Montenegro; 7Department of Physiology, 8Endocrine Section, Complejo Hospitalario, University Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Recent studies have demonstrated that hypopituitarism, in particular GH deficiency, is common among survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) tested several months or yr following head trauma. We present the results of endocrine, neurological, neuropsychological and psychiatric evaluation in a group of 67 patients who suffered TBI at least one yr ago. Our study shows that decreased endocrine function is either restricted to one or more anterior pituitary hormones and is present in 34% of patients with any pituitary hormone deficit, while multiple pituitary hormone deficiencies are found in 10% of patients. GH/IGF-I axis was evaluated by GHRH+GHRP-6 test and IGF-I measurement. Severe GHD is the most frequent deficiency present in 15% of TBI patients. Gonadotrophin deficiency was present in 9% of patients with TBI, while thyrotroph and corticotroph function seemed more refractory to impairment. Patients with moderate-to-severe trauma are not necessarily more likely to have hypopituitarism than those with mild injury. Neuropsychological testing revealed a significant positive correlation of peak GH levels after GHRH+GHJRP-6 test with verbal learning and verbal short term memory (RAVLT total score p=0.06, immediate free recall p=0.02 and delayed free recall p=0.04). Verbal and visual memory was significantly lower in elderly patients and in males. Visoconstructional abilities (RCF copy) were significantly lower in the elderly (p<0.01) and undereducated (p=0.02). Visual memory (free recall of complex figure after 30 min) significantly correlated with lower IGF-I levels (p=0.01). Gonadotrophins and testosterone correlated significantly with visoconstructional abilities. Simple and complex conceptual tracking (TMT A and B) was significantly more impaired in older TBI patients (p<0.01) and with longer time from trauma (TMT B only, p=0.03). The psychiatric evaluation by using two different scales showed depression, phobic anxiety and psychoticism to be more prominent in the TBI group. Paranoid ideation and somatization negatively correlated with the peak GH responses to GHRH+GHRP-6 test (p=0.04 and p=0.03, respectively). Depression scale showed that nearly half of patients suffered from mild to moderate depression. The benefits of hormone replacement therapy on cognitive functioning and mental distress in TBI patients are eagerly awaited. (J. Endocrinol. Invest. 27: 1048-1054, 2004) ©2004, Editrice Kurtis

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