High-dose glucocorticoids are associated with improved recovery of deficits in primary autoimmune hypophysitis (PAH), but optimal dosing, route, and duration are unclear.
We reviewed literature for first-line glucocorticoid treatment in PAH until December 2021 and performed an individual patient data meta-analysis to analyze clinical, hormonal, and radiological outcomes with respect to route, dose, and duration (<6.5 vs 6.5–12 vs >12 weeks) of glucocorticoid treatment according to disease severity.
A total of 153 PAH patients from 83 publications were included. The median age at presentation was 41 (32.5–48) years with a female preponderance (70.3%). Visual field recovery was significantly better with i.v. (91.7%) as compared to oral (54.5%) route and high dose (100%) and very high dose (90.9%) as compared to medium dose (20%) of glucocorticoids. Corticotroph axis recovery was greater in i.v. (54.8% vs 28.1% oral, P = 0.033) route and increasing glucocorticoid dose group (0% vs 38.1% vs 57.1%), attaining statistical significance (P = 0.012) with very high-dose. A longer duration of treatment (>6.5 weeks) was associated with better corticotroph and thyrotroph recovery. The need for rescue therapy was lower with i.v. route (38% vs 17.5%, P = 0.012) and with increasing glucocorticoid doses (53.3% vs 34.3% vs 17.3%, P = 0.016). In severe disease, visual field and corticotroph axis recovery were significantly higher with i.v. route and very high-dose steroids. The adverse effects of glucocorticoids were independent of dose and duration of treatment.
Very high-dose glucocorticoids by i.v. route and cumulative longer duration (>6.5 weeks) lead to better outcomes and could be considered as first-line treatment of severe PAH cases.