Treatment of prolactin-secreting macroadenomas with the once-weekly dopamine agonist cabergoline

Beverly M K Biller, Mark E. Molitch, Mary Lee Vance, Kristin Baker Cannistraro, Kenneth R. Davis, Jarid A. Simons, John R. Schoenfelder, Anne Klibanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


Dopamine agonist administration is the primary therapy for macroprolactinomas, but bromocriptine is the only agent approved in the United States. Its use is limited by a high incidence of side effects, a short duration of action, and a lack of effectiveness in some patients. Cabergoline is a long-acting dopamine agonist specific for the D2 receptor that is more effective and better tolerated than bromocriptine in women with microadenomas or idiopathic hyperprolactinemia. However, experience with cabergoline in the treatment of patients with macroadenomas is limited. We report the first study of chronic administration of cabergoline conducted exclusively in patients with macroprolactinomas. Fifteen patients (8 women, 7 men) ages 18-76 yr were studied in an open-label 48-week dose escalation trial of cabergoline administered once per week. Eleven patients had received prior therapy with other dopamine agonists. Mean prolactin (PRL) levels decreased by 93.6%, and normal levels were attained in 73% of patients at doses of 0.5-3.0 mg per week. Three of five patients who had failed to normalize PRL on prior dopamine agonists achieved normal levels. Gonadal function was restored in all hypogonadal men and in 75% of premenopausal women with amenorrhea. Tumor size decreased in 11 of the 15 patients. Side effects were minimal. Of the 5 patients who had experienced side effects on prior dopamine agonists, 4 had none on cabergoline, and the fifth had milder symptoms. During two further years of follow up, the improvement in PRL levels, gonadal function, and tumor size has persisted during cabergoline administration, and three patients have experienced a further decline in PRL and/or tumor size. This study demonstrates the effectiveness and minimal side effects of once-weekly cabergoline for treatment of macroprolactinomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2338-2343
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Endocrinology
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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