BACKGROUND: Somatostatin analogues (SA) are currently the mainstay in the medical treatment of acromegaly. However, even high doses of depot SA for prolonged periods do not achieve GH-IGF-I normalization in some patients. Even though some data were reported about the addition of cabergoline, a long-acting dopamine agonist (DA), to SA in resistant patients, definite data are still lacking. DESIGN: Prospective open trial. PATIENTS: In 19 acromegalic patients with active disease (34-82 years old, seven males, 12 females) resistant to chronic (9-12 months) depot SA (octreotide-LAR, 30 mg/28 days in 13 patients, lanreotide, 60 mg/ 28 days intramuscularly in six patients) cabergoline was added (combined treatment). In these patients, SA treatment had partially relieved GH and IGF-I hypersecretion but no patient had achieved 'safe' GH and normal IGF-I-values. Eight patients had PRL levels greater than 15 μg/l (range 16-60 μg/l 1 μg =21.2 mlU). Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was positive for PRL in four out of eight operated patients. RESULTS: The addition of cabergoline, using the minimal effective and the maximal tolerated dose (range 1-3.5 mg/week), decreased GH from 6.6 ± 0.9 to 4.6 ± 0.6 μg/l (P = 0.018), and IGF-I from 552 ± 44 to 428 ± 54 μg/l (P = 0.019) after 6 months (median, range 3-18 Months). Combined treatment decreased GH to <2-5 μ/l in four patients (21%) and normalized IGF-I for age in eight patients (42%). It obtained a decline of both GH and IGF-I (-49 ± 7%, and -47 ± 5%, respectively) in nine patients (47%), and a partial improvement in six (32%) patients (GH decreased by 43 ± 8% in four, and IGF-I by 35-38% in two patients). No change was observed in two patients, and worsening in two other patients. Results were not dependent on PRL status (serum levels or IHC). Combined treatment was well tolerated. CONCLUSIONS: The addition of cabergoline to depot SA-resistant acromegalic patients is effective, not dependent on PRL values and normalizes IGF-I levels in 42% of patients. The association of long-acting DA and SA deserves a more relevant role in the therapeutical algorithm of acromegaly.
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