Pituitary adenomas that produce adrenocorticotropic hormone and α-subunit: Clinicopathological, immunohistochemical, ultrastructural, and immunoelectron microscopic studies in nine cases

K. K. Berg, B. W. Scheithauer, I. Felix, K. Kovacs, E. Horvath, G. G. Klee, E. R. Laws, I. Ciric, K. D. Post

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Eight surgical and one autopsy specimen of pituitary adenomas (six cases of Cushing's disease, two of Nelson's syndrome, and one of hypopituitarism) were studied by histochemical, immunohistocytological, and ultrastructural methods. Eight tumors showed the characteristic histochemical profile of corticotroph adenoma-amphophilic to basophilic, and periodic acid-Schiff-positive to some extent. In all tumors, immunohistochemical studies revealed adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and α-subunit in the cytoplasm of some adenoma cells. By electron microscopy, seven tumors were found to be monomorphous; six were typical corticotroph adenomas and one was a subtype II silent corticotroph adenoma. One unique lesion was bimorphous-i.e., composed of corticotrophs as well as cells resembling glycoprotein cells. Immunoelectron microscopy by the double-labeling immunogold technique, performed on one corticotroph adenoma, demonstrated the presence of ACTH and α-subunit not only within the same adenoma cells but also within the same secretory granules. The cytogenesis of ACTH α-subunit tumors, a rare form of plurihormonal adenoma, remains to be elucidated. The duration of disease associated with these tumors exceeded the duration in patients with ordinary corticotroph adenomas. Given the low frequency with which increases in serum α-subunit are detectable in patients with such tumors-13% in this series-hormone production is not recognized at preoperative evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-403
Number of pages7
JournalNeurosurgery
Volume26
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990

Keywords

  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone,α-Subunit
  • Cushing's disease
  • Immunoelectron microscopy
  • Nelson's syndrome
  • Pituitary adenoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery

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