Background In untreated acromegaly patients, decreased cognitive functioning is reported to be associated with the degree of growth hormone (GH) and IGF-1 excess. Whether previous GH excess or current medical treatment for acromegaly specifically affects cognition remains unclear. The aim of this study was to compare cognitive functioning of patients who are treated for acromegaly with patients with non-functioning pituitary adenomas (NFA). In addition, we assessed the influence of prolonged medical treatment after initial transsphenoidal surgery on cognition.
Design In this cross-sectional study, 74 patients participated, who were treated for acromegaly (n = 50; median [interquartile range] age: 53  years) or NFA (n = 24; age: 63  years). The NFA patients were selected for a high likelihood of normal GH secretion based on an IGF-1 z-score within the normal range (> -2) and zero or one axis substituted. Of the acromegaly patients, 28 had achieved remission, while 22 were biochemically controlled with long-acting somatostatin analogues and/or pegvisomant. Memory and executive functioning were assessed by the 15 Words Test and the Ruff Figural Fluency Test, and reported as z-scores.
Results The total patient group scored significantly poorer than the reference population on memory and executive functioning (P <0.001). However, cognitive test performance was not significantly different between acromegaly patients with a persistent disease, acromegaly patients in remission and NFA patients.
Conclusion The total patient group scored worse compared with reference populations. We found no association between previous GH excess and cognition. In addition, current medical treatment for GH excess in acromegaly was not related to memory and executive functioning.