Update in Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Therapy of Prolactinoma

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Jul 24;14(15):3604. doi: 10.3390/cancers14153604.


Prolactinomas comprise 30-50% of all pituitary neuroendocrine tumors, frequently occur in females aged 20 to 50, and cause hypogonadism and infertility. In typical cases, female patients exhibit galactorrhea and amenorrhea due to serum prolactin (PRL) elevation, and patients during pregnancy should be carefully treated. During diagnosis, other causes of hyperprolactinemia must be excluded, and an MRI is useful for detecting pituitary neuroendocrine tumors. For treating prolactinoma, dopamine agonists (DAs) are effective for decreasing PRL levels and shrinking tumor size in most patients. Some DA-resistant cases and the molecular mechanisms of resistance to a DA are partially clarified. The side effects of a DA include cardiac valve alterations and impulse control disorders. Although surgical therapies are invasive, recent analysis shows that long-term remission rates are higher than from medical therapies. The treatments for giant or malignant prolactinomas are challenging, and the combination of medication, surgery, and radiation therapy should be considered. Regarding pathogenesis, somatic SF3B1 mutations were recently identified even though molecular mechanisms in most cases of prolactinoma have not been elucidated. To understand the pathogenesis of prolactinomas, the development of new therapeutic approaches for treatment-resistant patients is expected. This review updates the recent advances in understanding the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and therapy of prolactinoma.

Keywords: SF3B1 mutation; aggressive pituitary neuroendocrine tumors; dopamine agonist; pituitary carcinoma; prolactinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This review received no external funding.