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Functional and morphological changes in the adenohypophysis of dogs with induced primary hypothyroidism: loss of TSH hypersecretion, hypersomatotropism, hypoprolactinemia, and pituitary enlargement with transdifferentiation.

Author(s): Diaz-Espineira MM, Mol JA, van den Ingh TS, van der Vlugt-Meijer RH, Rijnberk A, Kooistra HS

Affiliation(s): Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Publication date & source: 2008-07, Domest Anim Endocrinol., 35(1):98-111. Epub 2008 Mar 31.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial

From case studies in humans it is known that primary hypothyroidism (PH) may be associated with morphological and functional changes of the pituitary. There is no insight into the time scale of these changes. In this study, seven beagle dogs were followed up for 3 years after the induction of primary hypothyroidism. Three of these dogs were followed up for another 1.5 years while receiving l-thyroxine. Adenohypophyseal function was investigated at 2-month intervals with the combined intravenous injection of CRH, GHRH, GnRH, and TRH, and measurement of the plasma concentrations of ACTH, GH, LH, PRL, and TSH. In addition, after 2 years of hypothyroidism a single TRH-stimulation test and a somatostatin test were performed, with measurements of the same pituitary hormones. Every 6 months the pituitary gland was visualized by computed tomography (CT). Induction of PH led to high plasma TSH concentrations for a few months, where after concentrations gradually declined to values no longer significantly different from pre-PH values. A blunted response to stimulation of TSH release preceded this decline. Basal plasma GH concentrations increased during PH and there was a paradoxical hyperresponsiveness to TRH stimulation. Basal GH concentrations remained elevated and returned only to low values during l-thyroxine treatment. Basal PRL concentrations decreased significantly during PH and normalized after several months of l-thyroxine treatment. The pituitary gland became enlarged in all dogs. Histomorphology and immunohistochemical studies in 4 dogs, after 3 years of PH, revealed thyrotroph hyperplasia, large vacuolated thyroid deficiency cells, and decreased numbers of mammotrophs. Several cells stained for both GH and TSH. In conclusion, with time PH led to a loss of the TSH response to low T4 concentrations, hypersecretion of GH, and hyposecretion of PRL. The enlarged pituitaries were characterized by thyrotroph hyperplasia, large vacuolated thyroid deficiency cells, and double-staining cells, which are indicative of transdifferentiation.

Page last updated: 2008-11-03

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