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Pituitary dysfunction due to sports-related traumatic brain injury

  • Aysa HaciogluEmail author
  • Fahrettin Kelestimur
  • Fatih Tanriverdi



After traumatic brain injury was accepted as an important etiologic factor of pituitary dysfunction (PD), awareness of risk of developing PD following sports-related traumatic brain injury (SR-TBI) has also increased. However there are not many studies investigating PD following SR-TBIs yet. We aimed to summarize the data reported so far and to discuss screening algorithms and treatment strategies.


Recent data on pituitary dysfunction after SR-TBIs is reviewed on basis of diagnosis, clinical perspectives, therapy, screening and possible prevention strategies.


Pituitary dysfunction is reported to occur in a range of 15–46.6% following SR-TBIs depending on the study design. Growth hormone is the most commonly reported pituitary hormone deficiency in athletes. Pituitary hormone deficiencies may occur during acute phase after head trauma, may improve with time or new deficiencies may develop during follow-up. Central adrenal insufficiency is the only and most critical impairment that requires urgent detection and replacement during acute phase. Decision on replacement of growth hormone and gonadal deficiencies should be individualized. Moreover these two hormones are abused by many athletes and a therapeutic use exemption from the league’s drug policy may be required.


Even mild and forgotten SR-TBIs may cause PD that may have distressing consequences in some cases if remain undiagnosed. More studies are needed to elucidate epidemiology and pathophysiology of PD after SR-TBIs. Also studies to establish screening algorithms for PD as well as strategies for prevention of SR-TBIs are urgently required.


Sports-related traumatic brain injury Pituitary dysfunction Growth hormone deficiency Central hypogonadism 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Endocrinology and MetabolismErciyes University Medical SchoolKayseriTurkey
  2. 2.Yeditepe University Medical FacultyIstanbulTurkey
  3. 3.Memorial Kayseri Hospital, Endocrinology ClinicKayseriTurkey

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