Diseases of the hypothalamus
Diseases of the hypothalamus
The hypothalamus is a part of the diencephalon and the range of its effects is various. Not only that, along with the pituitary gland or the hypophysis, it controls the proper function of the whole endocrine system, but its other functions include control of the food and fluid intake, also affects body temperature, pulse, blood pressure, is a part of the circuit involved in the control of emotions, etc. Hypothalamic diseases cause deviations in the hormone production, which causes changes in the target organs.
Hormones of the hypothalamus
Hormones play an important role in the diseases of the hypothalamus. Hormones produced by the hypothalamus are divided into liberins and statins. These chemical messengers function in the appropriate places in the pituitary gland and affect the secretion of hormones, which in turn have an effect on other organs of the body. Among liberins whose role is to increase levels of pituitary hormones belong thyreoliberin (via pituitary hormones affects the thyroid gland), corticoliberin (via pituitary gland affects the adrenal glands), gonadotropin (affects the sex organs) and somatoliberin (increases the secretion of growth hormone). Statins have the opposite effect. Hypothalamus also produces vasopressin (ADH causing water accumulation in the kidneys) and oxytocin (which is important for women during childbirth and lactation).
Causes of diseases of the hypothalamus
All diseases of the hypothalamus are therefore linked to the impairment of its functions, most often the production and secretion of hormones, which results in a change in the functioning of target organs and tissues. In the case of hormonal disorders we typically distinguish hypofunction (reduced hormonal amount) and hyperfunction (increased). The most common causes of hypothalamic diseases include tumors (both directly in it and in its vicinity), infections (e.g. meningitis), trauma, stroke, etc. Even if some of these processes take place in the hypothalamus none of its functions may be affected, but they can lead to the suppression of the surrounding brain structures and their function impairment.
Tumors quite often cause childhood diseases such as pubertas praecox (precocious puberty), which belongs among the hyperfunctional syndromes of hypothalamic diseases. For this disease is characteristic the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics before 8 years of age in girls and before 9 years in boys. This hypothalamic disease is caused by increased release of gonadotropin-releasing factor. For proper treatment it is necessary to distinguish between central precocious puberty form and from a peripheral form, which leads to increased production of sex hormones in the sex organs.
Among hypofunctional syndromes belong diabetes insipidus. It occurs in the case of partial or complete lack of antidiuretic hormone (or vasopressin), which leads to a reduction of re-absorption of water in the renal tubules. An individual with this hypothalamic disease may urinate 20 to 30 l per day (normal amount of urine is about 1.5 liters per day). This causes increased thirst, but for sufficient fluid intake hospitalization is usually required. In the treatment of this hypofunctional hypothalamic disease vasopressin is replaced by the synthetic hormone - desmopressin.
Treatment of diseases of the hypothalamus
Diagnosis of hypothalamic diseases is based on individual symptoms, it is necessary to perform blood tests focused primarily on the levels of hormones. From imaging methods most often is used brain CT and magnetic resonance. It is necessary to examine the target organs to determine a potential other than hypothalamic origin. It is ideal to eliminate the origin of the disease, in tumors usually by surgery. In most cases, it is necessary to use medications, as stated in diabetes insipidu. Generally speaking, endocrinological diseases of the hypothalamus (related to hormone production) are relatively well treatable, a bigger problem occurs in diseases affecting some of the other functions of this organ.