Impulse control disorders associated with dopaminergic medication in patients with pituitary adenomas

Clin Neuropharmacol. 2011 Sep-Oct;34(5):179-81. doi: 10.1097/WNF.0b013e3182281b2f.


Objective: Impulse control disorders (ICDs) such as pathological gambling, compulsive shopping, compulsive eating, and hypersexuality are a matter of growing interest, especially in patients with Parkinson disease who are on dopamine replacement therapy. It was recently reported that ICDs are associated with other disorders also treated with dopaminergic drugs (dopamine agonists) such as restless legs syndrome, multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy, and fibromyalgia. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of ICDs in patients with pituitary adenomas who take dopamine agonists (DAs).

Methods: Twenty consecutive patients with pituitary adenomas (mostly prolactinomas) taking DAs were assessed. All participated in a structured interview focused on ICDs, which was conducted by a physician.

Results: Two (10%) of 20 subjects had a condition diagnosed as ICD. The first patient is a 35-year-old man with giant macroprolactinoma who was alternately treated with different types of DAs (cabergoline, bromocriptine, and quinagolide). He developed compulsive eating and pathological gambling. The second patient is a 53-year-old man with macroprolactinoma who suffered from severe hypersexuality after cabergoline was begun.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the importance of systematic screening for ICDs in patients taking dopaminergic medication regardless of their primary condition.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aminoquinolines / therapeutic use
  • Bromocriptine / therapeutic use
  • Cabergoline
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Compulsive Behavior / chemically induced
  • Compulsive Behavior / epidemiology
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology
  • Dopamine Agonists / adverse effects*
  • Ergolines / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prevalence
  • Prolactin / metabolism
  • Prolactinoma / diagnosis
  • Prolactinoma / drug therapy*
  • Prolactinoma / metabolism
  • Slovakia / epidemiology


  • Aminoquinolines
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Ergolines
  • Bromocriptine
  • quinagolide
  • Prolactin
  • Cabergoline