Basal and thyroid-releasing hormone-stimulated (200 micrograms/m2) prolactin and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were measured in 31 patients with hypopituitarism (13 isolated growth-hormone deficiencies and 18 multiple pituitary hormone deficiencies). The results were compared with the prolactin response in 76 healthy prepubertal children. Normal prolactin concentrations were found in 13 patients whereas 11 had increased levels. TSH levels were either normal or increased in patients who were considered to have hypothalamic disorders. Decreased prolactin response was present in 7 children, 6 of whom had multiple pituitary deficiencies. Their TSH response was decreased as well, indicating pituitary failure. There was good overall correlation of peak prolactin with peak, TSH concentrations. Some patients with 'isolated' growth hormone deficiency had an abnormal prolactin response indicating an additional hormonal deficiency. All patients with low levels of serum thyroxine had abnormal prolactin or TSH levels, high in some, low in others. Two euthyroid patients with increased prolactin stimulation became hypothyroid during treatment with growth hormones, thus questioning whether prolactin is a more sensitive indicator of early thyroid insufficiency than thyroxine or TSH levels.
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