Role of pituitary dysfunction on cardiovascular risk in primary empty sella patients

Annamaria Colao, Oana R. Cotta, Diego Ferone, Maria L. Torre, Francesco Ferraù, Carolina Di Somma, Mara Boschetti, Claudia Teti, Maria C. Savanelli, Angela Alibrandi, Francesco Trimarchi, Salvatore Cannavò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Primary empty sella (PES) is a frequent anatomical condition rarely causing pituitary dysfunction. We assessed cardiovascular risk in a cohort of PES patients referred to Endocrine Units. Design The study was performed in three Italian tertiary referral centres. We evaluated pituitary function and cardiovascular risk, on the basis of lipid and glucose metabolism parameters and of Framingham score (FS), in 94 consecutive patients with PES diagnosis and in 94 gender, age and BMI matched controls. Patients Pituitary function was normal in 30 patients (group A), whereas a single or multiple pituitary hormone deficiency was demonstrated in 64 (group B). Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) was diagnosed in 56, central hypothyroidism in 35, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in 32 and central hypoadrenalism in 24 cases. Results Framingham score was higher and glucose and lipid profile were worse in PES patients than in controls. Cardiovascular risk parameters were not different between group A and B. In group B, increased cardiovascular risk was associated with hypothyroidism and hypogonadism, but not with GHD. In group A, cardiovascular risk was higher and FT3 and FT4 levels were lower than in controls. Moreover, PES patients stratified for BMI showed a worse glucose and lipid profile and (in the overweight subgroup) higher FS than matched controls. Conclusions Primary empty sella patients show increased cardiovascular risk, regardless of BMI. A worse lipid and glucose profile and higher FS were associated with secondary hypothyroidism, even subclinical, as well as hypogonadism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-216
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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