Long-term follow-up of prolactinomas: normoprolactinemia after bromocriptine withdrawal

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Aug;87(8):3578-82. doi: 10.1210/jcem.87.8.8722.


Bromocriptine (BRC) and other dopamine agonist drugs are the first-choice treatment for prolactinomas. However, the major disadvantage is the need for prolonged therapy. We retrospectively studied 131 patients [62 microprolactinoma (MIC), 69 macroprolactinoma (MAC)], who achieved serum prolactin (PRL) normalization during BRC use. Twenty-seven percent of them (31% MIC and 69% MAC) underwent previous surgery. Twenty-seven patients (20.6%: 25.8% MIC and 15.9% MAC) persisted with normoprolactinemia after a median time of 44 months of BRC withdrawal. The median time of BRC use was 47 months. There were no statistically significant differences regarding age, gender, BRC initial dose, length of BRC use, tumor size, pregnancy during treatment, previous surgery, or radiotherapy among patients who persisted with normoprolactinemia and those who did not, using both univariate and multivariate analysis. BRC-induced prolactinoma cell alterations are highly controversial; and so, whether the mechanism of PRL normalization after BRC withdrawal is related to BRC use or whether it is attributable to natural history is a matter for debate. A periodic assessment of PRL levels during BRC (and other dopamine-agonist drugs) withdrawal is recommended to avoid the unnecessary maintenance of therapy in a subset of patients with prolactinomas.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bromocriptine / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hormone Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolactin / blood*
  • Prolactinoma / drug therapy*
  • Prolactinoma / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hormone Antagonists
  • Bromocriptine
  • Prolactin