Oxytocin in survivors of childhood-onset craniopharyngioma
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Quality of survival of childhood-onset craniopharyngioma patients is frequently impaired by hypothalamic involvement or surgical lesions sequelae such as obesity and neuropsychological deficits. Oxytocin, a peptide hormone produced in the hypothalamus and secreted by posterior pituitary gland, plays a major role in regulation of behavior and body composition. In a cross-sectional study, oxytocin saliva concentrations were analyzed in 34 long-term craniopharyngioma survivors with and without hypothalamic involvement or treatment-related damage, recruited in the German Childhood Craniopharyngioma Registry, and in 73 healthy controls, attending the Craniopharyngioma Support Group Meeting 2014. Oxytocin was measured in saliva of craniopharyngioma patients and controls before and after standardized breakfast and associations with gender, body mass index, hypothalamic involvement, diabetes insipidus, and irradiation were analyzed. Patients with preoperative hypothalamic involvement showed similar oxytocin levels compared to patients without hypothalamic involvement and controls. However, patients with surgical hypothalamic lesions grade 1 (anterior hypothalamic area) presented with lower levels (p = 0.017) of oxytocin under fasting condition compared to patients with surgical lesion of posterior hypothalamic areas (grade 2) and patients without hypothalamic lesions (grade 0). Craniopharyngioma patients’ changes in oxytocin levels before and after breakfast correlated (p = 0.02) with their body mass index. Craniopharyngioma patients continue to secrete oxytocin, especially when anterior hypothalamic areas are not involved or damaged, but oxytocin shows less variation due to nutrition. Oxytocin supplementation should be explored as a therapeutic option in craniopharyngioma patients with hypothalamic obesity and/or behavioral pathologies due to lesions of specific anterior hypothalamic areas. Clinical trial number: KRANIOPHARYNGEOM 2000/2007(NCT00258453; NCT01272622).
KeywordsCraniopharyngioma Hypothalamus Obesity Oxytocin Behavior
We thank all patients who participated in this study. We are grateful for the help of Margarita Neff-Heinrich, Göttingen, Germany, in proofreading and editing the manuscript. H. L. Müller is supported by the German Childhood Cancer Foundation, Bonn, Germany.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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