Patients with prolactinomas exhibit distinct personality patterns: comparison of 84 prolactinoma patients with 58 patients with non-functioning pituitary adenomas and 168 age- and gender-matched controls
Anastasia Athanasoulia, Marcus Ising, Hildegard Pfister, Guenter Stalla & Caroline Sievers
Objective: To examine whether prolactinoma patients have an altered personality profile.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study 84 prolactinoma patients were enrolled. As reference groups, we compared 58 patients with non-functioning pituitary adenomas and secondly 168 age and gender matched healthy control subjects. Personality traits were measured with the standardized Eysenck (EPQ) and Cloninger personality (TPQ) questionnaires.
Results: Compared with healthy controls, patients with prolactinomas described themselves as distinctly more neurotic (EPQ-N; P<0.05) reporting also increased fatigability and asthenia (TPQ-HA4; P<0.001). These personality patterns, however, were not specific for prolactinomas but could be similarly observed in patients with non-functioning pituitary adenomas compared with controls.
In one personality trait, prolactinoma patients were different from both control groups: they were less extraverted than healthy controls and NFPA patients (EPQ-E; P<0.05, adjusted for age, sex, BMI).
Conclusion/discussion: To our knowledge, this is the first study examining personality traits in patients with prolactinomas systematically. So far it can only be speculated why the trait extraversion in prolactinoma patients in comparison to NFPA patients is reduced. An altered dopaminergic tone associated with reward activity might play a role which should be further investigated in prospective studies.