Clinicopathologic correlations of silent corticotroph adenomas of the pituitary: report of four cases and literature review

Sahli, Rahel; Christ, Emanuel R; Seiler, Rolf; Kappeler, Andreas; Vajtai, Istvan (2006). Clinicopathologic correlations of silent corticotroph adenomas of the pituitary: report of four cases and literature review. Pathology, research and practice, 202(6), pp. 457-64. München: Elsevier 10.1016/j.prp.2006.01.007

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Silent corticotroph adenomas (SCA) are rare pituitary tumors with histologic hallmarks of corticotroph differentiation, including ACTH immunoreactivity, but lacking clinical evidence of Cushing's syndrome. We report on four female patients, aged 19-66 years, each presenting with a nonfunctional macroadenoma. Leading symptoms were headache in two cases and visual field deficits in one. One patient was incidentally diagnosed while undergoing cranial MRI for an unrelated condition. Three patients had marked obesity; none of them presented constitutional signs of Cushing's syndrome. Serum cortisol levels were moderately elevated in the two patients systematically tested in this respect. Marginal to moderate hyperprolactinemia was present in two cases. Two patients also were shown to be deficient in either gonadotroph or thyrotroph axis, while a third had a combined insufficiency of both gonadotroph and thyrotroph axis. MRI scans revealed intratumoral hemorrhage and/or cystic change in three cases, as well as tumor-related occlusive hydrocephalus in one. The latter patient was biopsied only, while the remaining underwent gross total resection. Histologically, all four lesions were diagnosed as SCA subtype I displaying intense immunoreactivity for ACTH. In three tumors, scattered cells coexpressed PRL as well. In addition, Crooke's hyaline change was noted in a significant number of tumor cells and in residual non-neoplastic corticotrophs in one case each. With MIB-1 labeling indices of 1-3%, none of the tumors qualified as atypical adenoma. We conclude that SCAs are more likely to be discovered as expansile tumors, whose advanced local space-occupying character at surgery rather than an inherently aggressive growth potential may negatively influence the clinical outcome. Subtle morphologic evidence of corticotroph suppression in residual pituitary adjacent to tumor lends further support to literature data indicating minimal or intermittent functional activity in this tumor type.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Endocrinology (DFKE) > Clinic of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurosurgery
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Pathology

UniBE Contributor:

Sahli, Rahel Gerda, Christ, Emanuel, Seiler, Rolf, Kappeler, Andreas, Vajtai, Istvan










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Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:45

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:14

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URI: (FactScience: 1076)

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