Molecular Biology for the Endocrinologist:New Insights into Aetiology and Prognosis
Novel Insights into the Aetiology and Pathogenesis of HypopituitarismDattani M.T.
Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Institute of Child Health, London, UK
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Recent advances in our knowledge of pituitary development, acquired mainly from animal models, have enhanced our understanding of the aetiology of isolated growth hormone deficiency (IGHD) and combined pituitary hormone deficiency (CPHD), as well as several syndromic forms of growth hormone deficiency (GHD). A number of developmental genes known to be important for organ commitment and cell differentiation and proliferation (HESX1, LHX3, LHX4, PROP1 and PIT1) have been implicated in CPHD with or without other syndromic features. Phenotypes associated with these genetic mutations and their inheritance may be highly variable. Functional analyses of these mutations reveal valuable insights into the function of the proteins and hence into the effect of these mutations on phenotype. Novel insights have been gained into the mechanisms whereby these genes are associated with particular phenotypes as a result of murine transgenesis, e.g. type II autosomal dominant GHD. Mutations within known genes account for a small proportion of cases of IGHD and CPHD, suggesting the role of other as yet unidentified genetic and environmental factors. Hence, genetic testing will in the future have a greater role to play in understanding the mechanisms leading to particular hypopituitary phenotypes and also in predicting the evolution of these disorders. There is, however, no substitute for careful delineation of the phenotype prior to undertaking genetic studies.
© 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel
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