OBJECTIVES: To determine the frequency of macroprolactinemia in a cohort of hyperprolactinemic women, describing 1) the association of macroprolactinemia with clinical variables and morphological changes in the pituitary gland and 2) clinical status and prolactin levels after 10 years of follow-up.
DESIGN: Blood samples were obtained from 32 patients for hormonal assessment. Treatment with cabergoline or bromocriptine was interrupted 3 months before the determination of serum prolactin and macroprolactin. Macroprolactin was measured using the polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation method. Computed tomography was performed in all patients.
RESULTS: The frequency of macroprolactinemia was 28.1%. In 19 patients prolactin remained elevated (persistent hyperprolactinemia). In 13, prolactin returned to normal (former hyperprolactinemia). Nine patients with PEG recovery between 40 and 50%, and the only two macroprolactinemic patients with previous hyperprolactinemia were excluded from the analysis of clinical outcomes. Only one of seven macroprolactinemic patients had an abnormal pituitary image (empty sella). None had galactorrhea.
MAIN FINDINGS: Classic symptoms of hyperprolactinemia and abnormal imaging findings are not common in patients in whom macroprolactin is the predominant form of PRL.
CONCLUSIONS: Women with hyperprolactinemia, especially if asymptomatic, should be routinely screened for macroprolactinemia. Macroprolactinemia remains stable in the long term.