Pituitary dysfunction following mild traumatic brain injury in female athletes

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Objective: Pituitary dysfunction following mild traumatic brain injury can have serious physical and psychological consequences, making correct diagnosis and treatment essential. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to study the prevalence of pituitary dysfunction following mild traumatic brain injury in an all-female population following detailed endocrinological work-up after screening for pituitary dysfunction in female athletes. Design: This is a retrospective cohort study. Methods: Hormone screening blood tests, including serum blood values for thyroid-stimulating hormone, free thyroxin, insulin-like growth factor 1, prolactin, cortisol, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, estrogen and progesterone, were taken in 133 female athletes. Results were repeatedly outside the reference value in 88 women necessitating further endocrinological evaluation. Two of those were lost to follow-up, and further endocrinological evaluation was performed in 86 participants. Results: Six women (4.6%, n = 131) were diagnosed with hypopituitarism, four (3.1%) with central hypothyroidism and two with growth hormone deficiency (1.5%). Ten women (7.6%) had hyperprolactinemia, and four (3.1%) of them had prolactinoma. Medical treatment was initiated in 13 (9.9%) women. Significant prognostic factors were not found. Conclusions: As 12.2% of female athletes with a history of mild traumatic brain injury had pituitary dysfunction (hypopituitarism 4.6%, hyperprolactinemia 7.6%), we conclude that pituitary dysfunction is an important consideration in post-concussion care. Hyperprolactinemia in the absence of prolactinoma may represent pituitary or hypothalamic injury following mild traumatic brain injury. Significance statement Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) has become a growing public health concern as 50 million people worldwide sustain a traumatic brain injury annually, with mTBI being the most common (70–90%). As studies on mTBI have focused on mostly male populations this study aims to explore pituitary dysfunction (PD) in female athletes following mTBI. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first all-female study on PD following mTBI. The study found that 12.2% of the participating women had PD after mTBI. Six (4.6%) had hypopituitarism and ten (7.6%) had hyperprolactinemia. These findings suggest that PD following mTBI is an important consideration that endocrinologists and other medical staff working with athletes need to be aware of.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere230363
JournalEndocrine Connections
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

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Other keywords

  • female athletes
  • hyperprolactinemia
  • hypopituitarism (HP)
  • mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI)
  • sport-related concussion (SRC)
  • traumatic brain injury (TBI)


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