Hypothalamic hypopituitarism following cranial irradiation for nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1986 Jun;24(6):643-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.1986.tb01660.x.


Eight patients, one male and seven females, with no pre-existing hypothalamic-pituitary disease, who developed symptoms of hypopituitarism following cranial irradiation for nasopharyngeal carcinoma were studied 5 years or more after radiotherapy. All were GH deficient. Four of the patients with no GH response during insulin tolerance tests (ITT) showed increased GH in response to synthetic human growth hormone releasing factor (GRF-44). Four patients had impaired cortisol responses to ITT, and gradual but diminished cortisol responses to ovine corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF-41). There was no significant difference between mean peak increments in response to ITT and those in response to CRF-41. TSH responses to TRH were delayed in five and absent in two patients; four of these had low free T4 index. Prolactin was raised in all seven women and increased further in response to TRH. Two patients had impaired gonadotrophin responses to LHRH. None of the patients had clinical or biochemical evidence of diabetes insipidus. These data suggest that post-irradiation hypopituitarism in these patients results from radiation damage to the hypothalamus leading to varying degrees of deficiency of the hypothalamic releasing or inhibitory factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology
  • Growth Hormone / deficiency
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Hypopituitarism / etiology*
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology


  • Insulin
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Growth Hormone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone