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Lymphocytic hypophysitis successfully treated with azathioprine: first case report

Abstract

An aggressive case of lymphocytic hypophysitis is described which was successfully treated with azathioprine after failure of corticosteroids. The patient, aged 53, had frontal headache, diplopia, and diabetes insipidus. Cranial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed an intrasellar and suprasellar contrast enhancing mass with involvement of the left cavernous sinus and an enlarged pituitary stalk. A putative diagnosis of lymphocytic hypophysitis was made and prednisone was prescribed. Symptoms improved but recurred after the dose was reduced. Trans-sphenoidal surgery was attempted but the suprasellar portion of the mass could not be pulled through the pituitary fossa. Histological examination confirmed the diagnosis of lymphocytic hypophysitis. Two months later he developed aseptic meningoencephalitis which was treated with high dose methylprednisolone pulse therapy. MRI revealed a progression of suprasellar mass. At this stage azathioprine treatment was begun. Four weeks later MRI shown no evidence of residual lesion and no pituitary stalk enlargement. After follow up of 18 months without azathioprine there was no clinical or radiological evidence of the disease. This is the first evidence of the efficacy of azathioprine treatment in a patient with lymphocytic hypophysitis.

  • aseptic meningoencephalitis
  • azathioprine
  • lymphocytic hypophysitis
  • ACTH, adrenocorticotrophic hormone
  • FSH, follicle stimulating hormone
  • LH, luteinising hormone
  • TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone
  • T4, thyroxine

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