Patterns of gastrin secretion in patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas

L. Persani, P. Beck-Peccoz, M. Quatrini, M. Bassetti, B. Travella, P. Bianchi, Giovanni Faglia

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The presence of gastrin in pituitary tissue as well as gastrin hypersecretion by some pituitary adenomas have been documented using different methodological approaches. In the present study, serum gastrin levels were measured in 93 patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma, i.e. a condition lacking a reliable marker of the disease. Elevated gastrin levels (85–2, 180 ng/l; normal range: 15–80 ng/l) were found in 14/93 patients (15%), the highest values being observed in one patient with MEN I syndrome. In all but MEN I hypergastrinemic patient, a severe gastric hypochlorhydria (Basal Acid Output: 0.04 ± 0.1 mmol H+/h) unresponsive to pentagastrin (Maximun Acid Output: 0.1 ± 0.2 mmol H+/h) was seen. Secretin injection caused gastrin to increase in the patient with MEN I and in another hypergastrinemic patient. Antiparietal cells autoantibodies were positive in 3/11 patients. No changes in gastrin concentrations were found after administration of several agents usually employed in the evaluation of pituitary function, except a significant gastrin reduction after octreotide injection. In two hypergastrinemic patients who underwent pituitary adenomectomy, the high gastrin levels did not change after surgery. Finally, gastrin was undetectable in the culture media of 15 pituitary adenomas surgically removed from both normo- and hypergastrinemic patients and immunocytological studies of tumor cells did not show any gastrin staining. In conclusion, although in patients with pituitary adenomas serum gastrin evaluation is indicated in order to document the presence of a MEN I syndrome, the present data show that high gastrin levels cannot be taken as a specific marker of nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas unless the peripheral origin of hypergastrinemia is excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-865
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • atrophic gastritis
  • Gastrin
  • gastrin immunostaining in pituitary adenomatous cells
  • gastrin in pituitary adenomatous cell culture
  • hypergastrinemia
  • hypochlorhydria
  • MEN I syndrome
  • nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas
  • secretin test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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