Diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune hypophysitis: a short review

J Endocrinol Invest. 2011 Sep;34(8):e245-52. doi: 10.3275/7863. Epub 2011 Jul 12.


Medical therapy of autoimmune hypophysitis with immunosuppressive drugs can be effective to induce remission of the disease by treating both pituitary dysfunction and compression symptoms. We describe the case of a 41-yr-old man with autoimmune hypophysitis in whom prednisone therapy induced remission of the disease but was followed by a sudden relapse after withdrawal. A second trial of corticosteroid was started and succeeded in inducing remission of the disease. Eight months after the second withdrawal pituitary function was restored, pituitary mass had disappeared, only partial diabetes insipidus remained unchanged. Review of the literature identified 30 articles, among case reports and case series, reporting a total of 44 cases of autoimmune hypophysitis treated with glucocorticoids and/or azathioprine. Combining all the cases, medical therapy resulted to be effective in reducing the pituitary mass in 84%, in improving anterior pituitary function in 45%, and in restoring posterior pituitary function in 41%. Clinical aspects of autoimmune hypophysitis are discussed and a possible algorithm for the diagnosis and treatment of the disease is proposed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / physiopathology
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Pituitary Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Pituitary Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Pituitary Diseases / pathology
  • Pituitary Diseases / physiopathology
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Recurrence
  • Remission Induction


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Prednisone