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Managing Estrogen Therapy in the Pituitary Patient


Growth hormone (GH) regulates metabolic and physical health in the adult human. Because the GH system is regulated by estrogens, therapeutic estrogen compounds are likely to affect metabolic health. Estrogens are available for oral and parenteral use in natural, prodrug, and synthetic formulations including selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). This review covers the pharmacology of estrogen and the effects on GH action to inform judicious use in the pituitary patient. The effects on the GH system are route dependent due to first-pass hepatic metabolism. Oral but not parenteral estrogen compounds inhibit GH action, reducing hepatic insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) production, protein anabolism, and fat utilization. In patients with GH deficiency, oral estrogen therapy exacerbates the degree of hyposomatotrophism and attenuates the beneficial effects of GH replacement therapy, effects that are greater with contraceptive than replacement doses. Surveys report that less than one-fifth of hypopituitary women are appropriately replaced by a transdermal route and up to half on oral therapy are inappropriately treated with contraceptive steroids. In acromegaly, however, estrogens, especially synthetic formulations of greater potency, reduce IGF-1, improving disease control, an effect also observed in men treated with SERMs. The route-dependent effects and potency of estrogen formulations are important considerations for optimizing the management of hypogonadal patients with pituitary disease, in particular GH deficiency and acromegaly. For hypopituitary women, estrogens should be replaced by a nonoral route. For acromegaly, oral estrogen formulations can be considered as simple adjuvant therapy for disease control.

Type Journal
ISBN 2472-1972 (Electronic) 2472-1972 (Linking)
Authors Shoung, N.; Ho, K. K. Y.
Publisher Name Journal of the Endocrine Society
Published Date 2023-03-06
Published Volume 7
Published Issue 5
Published Pages bvad051
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1210/jendso/bvad051
URL link to publisher's version