High risk of hypopituitarism after traumatic brain injury: a prospective investigation of anterior pituitary function in the acute phase and 12 months after trauma

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Jun;91(6):2105-11. doi: 10.1210/jc.2005-2476. Epub 2006 Mar 7.


Context: Recent data have demonstrated that traumatic brain injury (TBI)-mediated hypopituitarism could be more frequent than previously known. However, most previous data were obtained from retrospective studies.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine 1) the prevalence of anterior pituitary hormone deficiencies in the acute phase of TBI and after 12 months, 2) whether severity of trauma correlated with basal hormone levels, and 3) whether initial hormone deficiencies predicted medium-term hormonal status.

Design and patients: Fifty-two TBI patients (43 men and nine women) were included in the prospective study. Pituitary function was evaluated within 24 h of admission and after 1 yr.

Results: Some 5.8% of the patients had TSH deficiency, 41.6% had gonadotropin deficiency, 9.8% had ACTH deficiency, and 20.4% had GH deficiency (GHD). Twelve months after TBI, 5.8% had TSH deficiency, 7.7% had gonadotropin deficiency, 19.2% had ACTH deficiency, and 37.7% had GHD. Twenty-six patients (50.9%) had at least one anterior pituitary hormone deficiency, 21 patients (41.2%) had isolated hormone deficiencies, and five patients (9.7%) had combined hormone deficiencies. Overall, the pituitary hormone deficiencies recovered in 30 (57.7%) patients after 1 yr, and new pituitary hormone deficiencies were present in 27 (51.9%) patients after 1 yr.

Conclusions: GHD is the most common pituitary deficit 12 months after TBI, and 50.9% of the patients had at least one anterior pituitary hormone deficiency. Pituitary function may improve or worsen in a considerable number of patients over 12 months.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / deficiency
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gonadotropins, Pituitary / deficiency
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hypopituitarism / etiology*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / physiopathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Thyrotropin / deficiency


  • Gonadotropins, Pituitary
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Thyrotropin