The Zollinger-Ellison syndrome: is there a role for somatostatin analogues in the treatment of the gastrinoma?

Endocrine. 2018 Apr;60(1):15-27. doi: 10.1007/s12020-017-1420-4. Epub 2017 Oct 10.


Purpose: Analyze the role of somatostatin analogues (SSAs) in the treatment of sporadic and MEN1-related gastrinomas, trying to define whether recent trials have changed the landscape of gastrinoma therapy.

Methods: We evaluate the rationale of SSA use in the treatment of gastrinomas, summarize the current literature concerning the effect of SSAs on the control of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (ZES) and gastrinomas tumor progression and discuss their role in the most recent guidelines.

Results: The medical treatment of gastrinoma and related ZES is aimed at controlling acid hypersecretion and tumor progression, in inoperable patients. The use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to control the syndrome is a cornerstone in the ZES therapy. SSAs are not usually indicated for antisecretory purpose, because PPIs are considered the treatment of choice, due to their long lasting high efficacy and oral availability. The antiproliferative effect of SSAs has been established by two placebo-controlled trials that have clearly demonstrated a significant increase in progression free survival in patients affected by non-functioning well-differentiated advanced neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). The recent ENETS guidelines recommend the use of SSAs in advanced well differentiated NETs as antiproliferative agents.

Conclusions: The high sstr-expression in gastrinomas make them highly responsive to SSAs and support the use of such drugs to counteract the tumour growth in patients not amenable to surgical cure. Unfortunately, limited data, mainly case reports or small series, support the use of SSAs in advanced gastrinomas, therefore, it is difficult to quantify their ability to control tumour growth and disease progression.

Keywords: Gastrinoma; Neuroendocrine tumours; Somatostatin; Somatostatin analogues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrinoma / drug therapy*
  • Gastrinoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Octreotide / therapeutic use
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Somatostatin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Somatostatin
  • Octreotide